The warm waft of baked goodies

Last Updated 17 August 2015, 18:21 IST
Marrying into a Malayali Christian family in Bengaluru — for a girl from a traditional Kannadiga background from Davangere — can be a very unique experience. This is so for many reasons — starting with the cuisines, which are different in terms of both cooking practices and tastes.

My love for baking was born after watching my mother-in-law, Dr Valsa George, in the kitchen. Although a doctor by profession, she happens to be a very passionate cook with a penchant for baking. Her specialities are dishes that are healthy and easy to make. Even though I was a vegetarian before marriage, I have turned into an ‘eggetarian’, thanks to the delicious cakes and buns that she bakes.

My mother-in-law discovered baking as a hobby, which later became a passion during the time she spent in Central Africa. There she met Irene, a Dutch UN volunteer, who had travelled far and wide and had a collection of recipes gathered from all over the world. When my mother-in-law returned to India, Irene gifted her the recipe book, which is now amongst her most prized belongings.

The book, which has undergone several rounds of hard binding, has pages that look like ancient scrolls. It contains over a 100 recipes, from chocolate chip cookies and a variety of pies to banana breads and an array of macaroons and éclairs. The book also has time-tested, simple yet effective secrets for a beginner and an expert baker.

I very fondly remember the first time I tried my hand at baking. My husband and I had recently moved to the US from Bengaluru and within a month, we hosted our first weekend get together at home. I had the whole menu planned out, except for one tiny yet very important detail — the dessert.

With only a day left to go for the actual event, I had no idea what to do so I immediately got in touch with my mother-in-law, who, within a matter of minutes, texted me the recipe of my favourite dish in her baking repertoire — an Australian delicacy called ‘Lamington’.

The joy of smelling the tantalising aroma of a cake being baked combined with the excitement of opening the oven door for a first time baker has to be among the best feelings in the world. Quite simply put, the ‘Lamington’ was a smashing hit — the first and every other time I made it for both our friends and family. I recently discovered that this famous dessert had a little history associated with it. Apparently, way back in 1901, Frenchman Armand Galland, the official cook of Lord Lamington, a governor of Queensland in Australia, had a crisis similar to mine — unexpected guests and food to prepare at short notice. But when the guests tasted the dish, they were left begging for more, which again was quite similar to my experience. I do not encourage keeping good recipes a secret and so here goes it. I hope your attempts are met with overwhelming praise.

The author can be
reached at naomibasil0285@gmail.com
(Published 17 August 2015, 18:04 IST)

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