Rainbow Cake

This is my sister’s Double Double Rainbow Cake. The cake is a delicious 1-2-3-4 Cake, made even more delicious with lime zest and juice. The butter cream icing is pastel coloured to brighten up a tea party or a glum monsoon afternoon. Read about the cake here.

I love the 1-2-3-4 cake, named after the simple arithmetic of its ingredients. It is so versatile: perfect un-iced for afternoon tea with a dollop of jam or iced, like in this cake, for a festive occasion. Another wonderfully simple cake.



For dinner tonight I’m making mouth wateringly tart burgers topped with onions, tomatoes and Moneterey Jack cheese, served with a side of crispy potato wedges with rosemary and chilly flakes. In the last five years Pali Hill, the neighborhood I live in, has become a major expat place. The newest additions to Pali Hill are Brazilian models. They’re here to find work in the film industry. Pali Market reflects our new residents. Shops selling all kinds of cheeses, wines, produce and meats are open for business. We usually opt for local things, but I’ve thrown caution to the wind for the experience of perfectly melting cheese.

My dad loves burgers. Though he’s spent most of his working life in Bombay, most of his jobs have taken him traveling around the world. He spent years commuting from Bombay to New York. During those years Dad discovered the joys of diner food. Especially delicious, juicy beef burgers. Those are what he misses the most.

For the Burgers
serves 4

1/2 Kilo Minced Beef
1/2 Onion Sliced
2 Cloves Garlic Chopped
3 or 4 Splashes Balsamic Vinegar
Splash of Vegetable Oil to Bind
Sea Salt
Sliced Monterey Jack Cheese

Sliced Onions
Condiments of All Sorts (especially a sharp mustard)
N.B- This is not a minimalist affair. I’m thinking sharp mustard + tabasco + balsamic adds the perfect cheek-aching tang to every bite.

1. Marinate the minced beef with sliced onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oil and balsamic vinegar. Use your hands to bring the minced meat together. But don’t overwork the mixture. Place in a bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1-6 hours. The balsamic gives the meat a nice kick. You could add chilly flakes for extra heat. (I’ll just add tabasco to my burger 🙂

2. Slice tomatoes and onion; rinse and dry lettuce; and prepare a tray of assorted condiments for serving.

3. I’m making these on the stove. Heat a griddle on high heat for 3 minutes. When hot, turn the flame down to medium. Form the patties by molding the beef into palm-sized disks. Melt slices of cheese onto the patty just before taking it off the griddle.

4. Cook for 3 minutes on each side for a rare burger; and 8 minutes on each side to have it well-done.

5. Serve with a side of rosemary and chilly potato wedges and (if you’re like me) a tray of assorted condiments–especially tabasco sauce for a dash of heat.

6. Thank your stars for your good fortune and for the existence of burgers.

Lime and Yogurt Cake

My sister, Uttara, uses yoghurt in her amazing Double-Decker Chocolate Cake at Bowtie Cakes. It makes her cake airy and light, an absolute dream to eat.

I love the idea of a yoghurt cake flavoured with lime and olive oil. This cake is simple, unpretentious and perfect on a rainy monsoon day with a novel and a cup of tea. I’ve made it today to bribe myself to get moving on a chapter I’m working on for my dissertation. Confectionary bribes work every time.

I’ve used Indian limes, which are tiny but deliciously tart. If you use Mexican limes instead, I’d use a Tbsp of zest. Also, this recipe adds an extra egg because Indian eggs are smaller than American ones. If you’re making this recipe in the US, I’d use 2 eggs instead of 3.

This recipe is adapted from House to Haus’s Clementine Yoghurt Cake.

2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda
Pinch Salt

3 Indian Eggs or 2 US Eggs
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Yoghurt
1 Cup Sugar
1 Indian Lime Zested
1 Tbsp. Lime Juice
Dash Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F. Grease a 9″ cake tin.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. Lightly combine the wet ingredients: Eggs, Olive Oil, Yoghurt, Sugar, Zest, Lime Juice and Vanilla Extract.

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, remembering not to overwork the batter.

5. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tooth-pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Cut into thick slices and serve with tea.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love the run-on-sentence that is the name of this divine cookie as much as I love the cookie itself. It’s monsoon season here and I have been dying for some good home-made Americana in my Bombay kitchen. I think the greatest American contribution to the world is pumpkin pie, a culinary wonder I discovered during my first Thanksgiving in the US. I have been in India and Tanzania for the last two years doing fieldwork for my Ph.D. and think longingly of chocolate chip cookies.

Have you read Julia Glass’s The Whole World Over? Greenie, the protagonist of the novel, is a pastry chef in New York City. I love that she bakes solidly, unpretentious desserts for Walter…

“Walter was the owner and gadabout host of a retro-American tavern that served high-cholesterol, high-on-the food chain meals with patriarchal hubris…Greenie wasn’t wild about the Eisenhower-era foods with which Walter indulged his customers–indulgence, she felt, was the province of dessert…most of the desserts [she made for Walter] were not her best or most original, but they were exemplars of their kind: portly, solid-citizen desserts, puddings of rice, bread and noodles–sweets that the Pilgrims and other humble immigrants who had scraped together their prototypes would have bartered in a Mayflower minute…”

What are these if not Solid-Citizen Desserts?

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe is adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, but is modified to suit a Bombay kitchen and clamy monsoon weather.


1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Castor Sugar
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar or Demarara Sugar (whisked once in a blender)
2 Eggs
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Oats
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Makes 30 bite-size cookies.

1. Preheat the Oven to 350 F or 177 C. Prepare cookie trays and set aside.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

3. Cream together peanut butter, butter, castor sugar, demarara sugar and vanilla extract. I use an electric hand mixer. Use whatever you have at hand. Add the eggs.

4. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time till combined.

5. With a wooden spoon mix in the oats. Then the chocolate chips.

6. Place in a dry glass bowl, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7. Remove from the fridge and spoon teaspoons-full onto the cookie tray leaving room for the cookies to expand.

8. Bake for 15 minutes, till the cookies are golden brown at the edges and the tops are beautifully wrinkled.

9. Devour immediately.


These are the very best kind of no-nonsense cookies. They make you thick of arm and warm of heart.