Ginger Date Cake

As today is my eldest sister’s birthday, I felt like sharing one of her recipes today. I decided to bring one of the cakes she enjoys making to the Fiesta Friday together with some lovely music. The recipe is given below after the music fest.

DSC01177The featured musician today is Hariharan. He trained in both Carnatic and Hindustani music though he is foremost a prominent ghazal singer and has released lots of ghazal albums. While Hariharan started his playback singing in the late 70s in Hindi movies, he was introduced to the south Indian movie world only in the early 90s by A.R.Rahman. Since then, he has been awarded both state and national awards for some of his songs. Hariharan was awarded the Padma Shri award by the Indian government in 2004.

I first chose to share a ghazal piece from the launch of the album Hazir 2, Hariharan’s second one with tabla maestro, Zakir Hussain.

The second clip is from a concert where Hariharan sings with Chitra one of their songs from the movie Love birds, the soundtrack of which was composed by A.R.Rahman.

While selecting the last clip to share here, I was trying to decide between two songs. One used to be very popular on Sri Lankan television in the late 90s, Krishna Nee from the self-titled Colonial Cousins album of the music duo – Hariharan and Leslie Lewis. The other was a Bathiya and Santhush single with Hariharan. Finally, I decided to share the one with the Sri Lankan musicians.

Hope you enjoy the music as well as the cake!

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Ginger Date Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 250g self-raising flour (optional: can reduce the amount of flour and add roasted semolina ensuring that the total is 250g)
  • 250g margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 250g dates
  • 100g ginger preserve
  • Vanilla essence

Method:

  1. De-seed the dates and chop them up roughly before letting them soak in a bowl of hot tea.
  2. Chop up the ginger preserve separately and keep aside.
  3. Whisk together the margarine and sugar.
  4. Add the egg yolks and the vanilla essence and continue beating the mixture.
  5. Then add some of the flour, chopped dates and ginger preserve, egg white and mix well before repeating the process till all the ingredients have been mixed well.
  6. Bake at 180⁰C for around 25 minutes.

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Date and Walnut Cookies

Today, I would like to share my mother’s recipe for date and walnut cookies. She often substitutes cashew nuts for the walnuts when we run out of walnuts.

I also wanted to mention a start-up that came to my attention recently and thought it might be of interest to those planning travels around Asia. Withlocals.com is a venture, currently covering 7 countries including Sri Lanka, initiated by a group of self-labelled ‘digital geeks with a combined passion for travelling, food and people.’ The interesting part of their services is ‘Eat with locals,’ where local hosts register to offer home-cooked meals. I might take up the offer of Martin (a staff at Withlocals.com) to try one of the eating experiences listed, next time a non-Sri Lankan friend visits me, provided the host is willing to share one of the recipes on this blog.

In the meantime, do enjoy these delicious date and nut cookies! 🙂
Date and Walnut cookies

Date and Walnut Cookies

  • Servings: 40
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Dates – ¼ cup, chopped
  • Walnut or cashew nut – ¼ cup, chopped
  • Roasted gram/ Pottu kadalai flour –  ¼ cup
  • All-purpose flour -1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Oats – ¼ cup
  • Sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon powder – pinch
  • Rose water – 1 tsp
  • Margarine – ¼ cup

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients. Add a little water if the mixture is too dry.
  2. Place the cookie dough on a lightly greased tray tablespoon at a time leaving an inch of space between them.
  3. Bake for about 20 mins at 170⁰C/338⁰F.
  4. Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan

Vegan Christmas Cake

Last week, my mother decided to bake her special vegan christmas cake. While I was initially planning to share this recipe on the 25th, I am sharing it ahead at my mother’s request. It is a delightful cake and I am sure you will enjoy it, if you do try it.

Christmas cake veganVegan Christmas Cake

Vegan christmas cake slicesTime taken: 3 hours

Makes 20 slices

Christmas cakeIngredients:

  • Dates – 1 cup, chopped
  • Raisins – ½ cup
  • Cashewnuts – ¼ cup
  • Almonds – ¼ cup, chopped
  • Caramelized peanuts – ½ cup
  • Cherry – ¼ cup, chopped
  • Chow chow (choko) – ½ cup, chopped
  • Ginger preserve – 1 tbsp
  • Puhul dosi (pumpkin preserve) – ¼ cup, chopped
  • Lemon rind – 1 tsp
  • Orange peel preserve – 1 tbsp
  • Mixed peel – ½ cup
  • Coconut treacle – 4 tbsp
  • Caramel syrup – ¼ cup
  • Almond oil – 3 tbsp
  • Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
  • Mixed spice (Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves) – 2 tsp
  • Thick tea – 1 tbsp
  • Semolina – ½ cup
  • Flour – ½ cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Baking soda – 2/3 tsp
  • Rose essence – ¼ tsp

Method:

  1. Chop all the ingredients mentioned above (dates, raisins, cashewnuts, peanuts, almonds, chow chow, lemon rind, orange peel preserve, mixed peel, ginger preserve, cherries and puhul dosi/ pumpkin preserve) and mix together in a bowl.
  2. To the bowl, add the liquids stirring them in as you do so. Add the honey, caramel syrup and thick tea and let it soak for about ½ hour.
  3. Mix well before adding the vegetable oil and almond oil. Add the rose essence and cinnamon, cardamom and clove mixed spice to the bowl.
  4. Gradually stir in the semolina.
  5. Sift the flour with the baking powder and soda and add the flour mix to the bowl.
  6. Whisk the contents of the bowl together so that there are no flour lumps anywhere.
  7. Transfer the cake batter to the baking tray and bake at 120⁰C/248⁰F for 1 to 1 ½ hour till the cake is browned at the top and the cake is baked through.
  8. After the cake cools, cut the cake into pieces and wrap the pieces into Christmas wrappings.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Egg-less Date and Raisin Cake

Among the several delicious cakes that my mother bakes, a special treat is her egg-less date and raisin cake that she makes on special occasions.

Date and raisin cake

Date and Raisin Cake

Time taken: 1 ½ hours + 3 hours (for marinating the dried fruits)

Serves 8 – 10

Slice of date cake

Ingredients:

  • Dates – 1½ cup (when chopped) or 300 g (before chopping)
  • Raisins – ½ cup (100 g)
  • Wheat flour – 2 cups
  • Semolina – ½ cup
  • Low fat vegetable oil margarine (e.g. Flora) – 1 ½ cup (250 g)
  • Brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Condensed milk – 1 cup (vegans can use almond cream or cashew nut cream or coconut cream as a substitute)
  • Vanilla essence – 2 tsp
  • Mixed 3C spice powder (Cardamon, Cloves and Cinnamon) – 1 ½ tsp
  • Sri Lankan Tea – 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Baking soda – ¼ tsp + pinch (for marinating the dried fruits)

Method:

  1. De-seed the dates and chop them. Place the chopped dates in a bowl, together with the raisins.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of strong black tea, pinch of baking soda and the mixed 3C spice powder to the dates and raisins bowl. Cover and keep aside, for 2 – 3 hours, letting the dried fruits marinate in the tea and spice mix.
  3. Whisk together the margarine and sugar, adding the condensed milk or vegan substitute. If whisking by hand, add the ingredients slowly while continuing to whisk. If using a blender, blend the three together for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla essence to the blend and mix.
  5. Sift the flour, semolina together with the baking powder and soda.
  6. Stir in the sifted flour and semolina gradually into the bowl of blended margarine, sugar and milk and mix.
  7. Add the marinated dried fruits to the batter and fold.
  8. Transfer the cake batter into a baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 140⁰C/284⁰F for about 1 – 1 ¼ hours.
  9. Remove from oven and let it cool, before slicing and serving with some hot Sri Lankan tea or coffee.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.