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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

There are books you read, enjoy and forget, and there are books, whose stories stay with you long after you have read them. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda falls in the latter category. The novel takes you through the lives of two women one in India and the other in America each of them linked by a girl child.

The story is such that it lingers in your mind long after you have read it. It made me realize for the umpteenth time that I am so lucky to be have been raised by parents who have always thought of my well being. This is a story I would recommend all my lady friends to read;well researched, well written, heart touching, absorbing and a compelling read.

Synopsis:

Somer's life is everything she imagined it would be--she's newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco--until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.

The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter's life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.

Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha's journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.

Compulsively readable and deeply touching, "Secret Daughter" is a story of the unforeseen ways in which our choices and families affect our lives, and the indelible power of love in all its many forms.”

This novel was an emotional roller coaster ride. It got me hooked right from the beginning. The author has studied the problem of female infanticide in India deeply and thoroughly and that is evident from the way the problem is portrayed throughout the novel. Kavita’s first child is a girl. Before Kavita could comprehend what was happening, her daughter is brutally separated from her by her husband, Jasu. So, the second time Kavita gives birth to a girl child, she gives her away to an orphanage to save her daughter’s life. It is the fierce desire of a mother to save and protect her child that compels Kavita to take such a drastic step. In many rural poor families in India a girl child is still considered a burden, an extra mouth to feed which gives no returns- rather one who has to be sent away to another house one day with a handsome dowry.

On one hand, Kavita bears the separation from her daughter; there is Somer in America who is anguished and suffering as she cannot have a baby of her own. Both women are different in every aspect, but are linked by destiny because of Asha. The author has sketched the characters of both of them very intricately. The beauty of the novel is as you read the novel; you could feel their emotional turbulence, their sorrow and their joy. The novel is not all negative, amidst all details of female infanticide, dowry problems, poverty and illiteracy; you could see a ray of hope. India is a land of contradiction and that is beautifully described through the eyes of Asha when she makes her first India visit. From opulent marriages, bright colours, gorgeous dresses, family bonding, Indian festivals to life in Dharvi, the largest urban in South Asia, Asha’s visit to India takes her through all and with her, the readers witnesses the startling contradictions in the Indian society. But that is not what the story is about. These things are in the backdrop while the main plot of the story is about Kavita, Somer and Asha.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the Asha that binds both of their destinies, "Secret Daughter" poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families--one Indian, one American--and the child that indelibly connects them.

Highly recommended!

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Egg less Red Velvet Cake

Past few days in India has been hectic. I had been hoping to be able to blog from here, but was caught up with so many different things that, in the end blogging took a back seat. Today, I decided to give my blog a visit and found there are a few drafts which could be posted with a little effort. Of course, I do not want you guys to forget me while I am away from this space.

While I know I am posting two decadent sweets one after another, I really cant help it. The cake I am sharing today is the one I baked for my DH's birthday last month. I was hoping I would be able to post it sooner, but couldn't. I decided to post it on my birthday which was a couple of days back but, couldn't.really manage to do even that. So, today to break my long absence from blogging, I want to virtually treat you all with this Red Velvet Cake!


Birthdays are special. So, I like to bake something special. This Egg less Red Velvet Cake is also a result of such efforts. The cake was not as red as I would have like and I later felt I could another table spoon of the red colour. But, after it was iced and cut, the red looked reasonably good in contrast with the white icing. I actually forget to take a picture of a slice, so pardon me for that.

This article on wiki gives a synopsis of the history of this special cake. Since this cake is egg less I have deviated a lot from the way that cake is traditionally make. But for an egg less cake, the results were pretty good. Lets see how I made it.


Ingredients:

11/2 cup + 2tbsp plain flour +1tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1tin condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp red colour (add another tbsp for a brighter red colour)
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp apple cider vinegar

Process:

1. Preheat the oven at 160 C. Line a 9" round tin. Please note that baking time may vary if you choose a smaller or larger tin. So, adjust accordingly.

2. Shift the flour, baking powder and baking soda twice. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl whip the condensed milk and butter till the mixture is creamy. Add the red food colour and whisk again.

4. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in 2-3 parts. Keep stirring while adding flour mixture. Add butter milk, vinegar and whisk for another 2 minutes. The batter will have a pouring consistency. Don't over do it

5. Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes at 160 C. Then lower the temperature to 150 C and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

6. The cake is done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes before turning the cake out of the tin.Cool completely before icing the cake.

Mascarpone Cream Icing:

280 gm mascarpone cream
225 gm whipping cream
3/4 cup icing sugar

Pour all the ingredients in a large bowl and whip it till it is creamy and has a soft peak consistency. Chill it in the fridge for half an hour.

Assembling the cake:

Slice the cake in 3 layers. In a cake plate place the top most layer and spread the prepared icing in an even layer. Top it with the second and third layer in the same way and cover the whole cake with rest of the icing. Get creative with decorating the cake. I used piped border, glace cherries and chocolate hearts. You can do it the way you fancy!



I will definitely try to blog more often. I have read a few books and I will post the reviews soon. Stay tuned.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Egg less Chocolate Fudge Brownies



If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you must know I have a weakness for Brownies. I have already posted a couple of brownie recipes here: Chocolate Brownies, Nutella Brownies, One Bowl Egg less Brownies. My all time favorite of all these recipes is the first one. However, it is a cake like brownie. I was looking for a nice fudge brownie recipe and looks like I have got a great recipe. I can vouch for this one, it is a simple recipe, no fancy ingredients and the results are awesome. If you love brownies you have to try this. 

Also check the notes below the recipe to get the best results.


Recipe source: Adapted from 100 best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holcheck.







Egg less Chocolate Fudge Brownies

1 cup AP Flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter minus 2 tbsp, soft or melted at room temperature.
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup +2 tbsp yogurt
About 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped chocolate or choco chips, I used milk chocolate.
1tsp vanilla extract

Process
1. Preheat the oven at 175 C and line a 9x9inch brownie pan with parchment paper. Brush it with a little butter.
2. Shift flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt together.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk butter, yogurt and vanilla together till well blended.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches and stir. Add water in batches till you get a condensed milk like consistency. Stir in the chopped chocolates.
5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared tin and bake it for 35 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle of the brownie will come out clean.
6. Let it cool down at least for 2 hours before slicing. You will get neat slices then.
7. Enjoy it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

Notes: 
- I have made this brownie a couple of times. First time I sliced it in just half an hour of cooling. The brownies didn't come out in neat slices. So, I make a point to bake it a day ahead for best results. Ideally, bake it in the evening, let it rest the whole night and have it next day.
- Do not skip adding chopped chocolates or choco chips, the melted chocolate adds another layer of taste and the gooey chocolate taste is awesome.

I am writing this post from India. I wanted to post this brownie recipe earlier but due to time constraint and last minutes tiny tasks, I wasn't able to. While I am in India, I might not be able to update this space as much as I like. Still, I will try to update this space whenever I can. Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

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