Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vegan Avocado Chocolate Frosted Cake

So we're blessing my first post of 2019 with some sweet success. This cake came out a winner despite my reservations. I honestly thought it would be a 5/10 thing, my cakes can be real disappointers sometimes. Not this time. This cake was epic.

I had a classic avocado problem. I had gone all hipster and bought like 5 avocados at one time convincing myself that each lovely avocado would ripen at a different time. Nope. One fine day they were all soft and were screaming to be used (or else tossed, them avocados can be real shits once they are ripe)

So I ran to YouTube. 

I was inspired by the scran line's recipe for choco avocado cupcakes .  Yup, avocados. You're thinking- that's weird and disgusting, but no it's not. It's an amazing superpower, you'll thank me later.

 It's dreamy, you just blend 3 ripe large avocados in the food processor with icing sugar and cocoa powder and refrigerate for an hour. Dreamy creamy plant-based frosting! 

Ok let's make this cake!

What You'll Need

 Avocado Frosting

3 large ripe avocados
1/4th cup pure cocoa powder
3/4th-1 cup icing sugar (depending on your personal preference for sweetness) 
Splash of vanilla

Chocolate Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4th cup vegetable oil
1 cup coconut milk
3/4th cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
80 grams of melted vegan dark chocolate (I used about half a bar of Amul dark chocolate )
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

* I am a total loser for mixing metrics, but roll with me. We're globalized now.

How To Make

You'll want to make the avocado frosting first. In a food processor blend peeled ripe avocados, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder together.

All your ingredients and WHIRRRRRR
After you blend you'll get a nice goopy mix that looks like this:

You'll want to pop that into the refrigerator for at least ONE HOUR. This is a critical step as it thickens the frosting to perfection. So put your frosting mix in the fridge now. good.

Now let's move on to the cake.

Go ahead and met your dark chocolate gently in a bowl with a splash of water on a stove or in the microwave for about a 60-90 seconds.

In a large bowl add your oil, vanilla, sugar, salt, coconut milk, and vinegar/lemon juice and whisk together well.  Now add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and mix. Finally gently stir in your melted dark chocolate.

cake batter ready to bake

Pour into a lined cake tin. Pre-heat oven to 160c and pop in the oven for about 30 minutes (depending on your oven please check with toothpick).

Let that baby cool for 45 minutes. Then go ahead and frost that cake with your chocolate avocado from the fridge. I used a piping bag to swirl it on top. You can simply layer with a knife or get fancier if you have the tools, either way- tastes amazing. Garnish with chopped pistachios (or nuts of choice). Present to people you want to impress with a gentle smirk.

Hope your 2019 is being super bright and treating you with opportunities to be kinder. Till next time <3 nbsp="" p="">

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year Vegan Dinner: Stuffed Butternut Squash, Apple Salad, and Coconut Cake Layered with Custard

This year we're keeping it simple. It's the boy, the mother, the dogs, and me over a simple vegan new year eve dinner with a glass of champagne. I usually a non-drinker except in times of celebration or excuse to drink the sparkling wine.

I wanted to strip the quantity this time. instead of making too many dishes (which I did for Christmas and the Holiday party), I wanted to tone it down and make something holiday-ish but simple. We have stuffed butternut squash (stuffed with seasoned rice and mushrooms), an apple lettuce salad, and a coconut cake layered with simple vanilla custard. It's all vegan, it's all bright.

I was DELIGHTED to see Butternut squash available at my local supermarket today. I really haven't seen it around before, and the last I've cooked with it has been in the U.S.A. Looks like a slow demand for this western winter squash is rising.

It was the perfect opportunity to make something I've wanted to try for a bit. The rich creamy butternut squash pairs well with a stuffing of herbed rice with mushrooms. You can make this recipe your own by fiddling with your own (and available) seasonings. 

Here's how to make it

What You Need: Stuffed Butternut Squash

One large Butternut squash
Olive Oil
Thyme (dried or fresh)
italian seasoning
2 tablespoons chili flakes (less if you don't want a bite)
1 cup raw rice
Vegetable stock or powder (1 cup or two tablespoons)
1 large carrot
1/2 large onion
2 cups mushroom
6 pods garlic minced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon cashew butter
4 tablespoons chopped almonds

How To Make

With a large sharp knife gently cut the butternut squash lengthwise. It should look like the picture above.

Now scoop out the seeds from each round socket. You can discard them or save them to roast for later. 

On an oven, pan add olive oil to the raw butternut squash and rub all over. Now sprinkle seasonings of choice, salt, and pepper. Pop this into a pre-heated oven at 200c for 30-45 min. You'll have to check to see if the squash is tender and 'scoopable'. 

While those are in the oven start to prepare your stuffing. Heat oil in a skillet, add thyme (or any other seasoning like rosemary), garlic, onions, diced carrots and fry well. Throw in your chopped mushrooms. Now add a pinch of sugar to balance it out. Add chili flakes, Italian seasonings, any other mixed seasonings you'd like and fry for a couple more minutes. Add the vegetable stock or powder.

Now if you've used vegetable stock powder like me, add 2.5 cups of water to it. If you've used liquid stock, then add one cup of that and 1.5 cups of plain water. Let it start to bubble. Add nutritional yeast and cashew butter to this and stir. Now add one cup of raw rice and let the fire go on simmer. Check the rice every 5 minutes and stir gently. It should all be cooked in 15-20 minutes. If it's drying up too fast and the rice is not cooked add small amounts of water. 

Check on your squash. If it's cooked well in the oven remove. Give it five minutes to cool so you don't burn your hands. Now gently scoop the soft squash out while leaving an inch of the squash on the peel. Mix the cooked squash to your cooked rice filling. It should look like the picture above!

Now go ahead and fill your squash cases with the filling. Add chopped nuts on top and pop in the oven at 180 for 10 min right before you want to serve!

This is a meal by itself. I'd add a salad to compliment it. You'll see that I've made an apple lettuce salad here with avocado. Simple balsamic olive oil dressing with salt and pepper as dressing.

The cake was simple. While I am not posting recipes for the salad and cake, I'll try to give you the idea. You'll need to make two simple vegan vanilla cakes ( a thin 3-inch layer each time you bake)with coconut essence and freshly grated coconut. 

Separately you'll use custard powder (the cornstarch versions are vegan by default) and boil soya milk as a substitute for milk. Follow package instructions. Now you jsut need to add a thick layer of cooled custard to the cake, add more coconut and sandwich the other cake with it. Tah-Dah!

Well 2018, you've been swell. But are we ever excited for 2019! I have big plans this year and lots of lessons to learn. More kindness to you this year. 

Keep it Real!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Vegan Christmas Kulkuls- A Tribute to my Manglorean Catholic Roots

I turned 35 this year. An age where you've figured yourself out and can finally fit in your past symbiotically with your present. And that's why tradition, or rather recreating new traditions based on the ones I grew up on are so important to me. I was raised in a rather secular household, a catholic Mangalorean mother (albeit raised in Calcutta) and a Hindu father. We were brought up with both influences, celebrating Diwali and Christmas with same-same enthusiasm. I was born in the U.S and lived there till I was 10. Then I was raised in Bangalore from ages 10 to 18. 
The one Mangalore Catholic tradition that stood the test of time in my childhood (growing up both in the U.S and Bangalore)was making Kulkuls at Christmas time with my mother Rosemary Mukherjee. Then we grew up and the tradition stopped. 

Today, I am making them again after 20 years.

The recipe is perfect for the whole family (especially the kids) to get involved with because of the fork you need to shape the dough with. In fact, that's all I was allowed to do as a kid, only roll them and never go near the stove for deep frying. Today, Manjula who has worked in our house for almost 6 years now told me she'd teach me how to do the perfect deep fry, making sure the kulkuls were dark and crisp outside and the dough inside cooked just enough. I usually cook and bake in isolation, but having Manjula doing it with me today created the atmosphere of memory- kulkuls are always made together.

I've organized the recipe of course. The traditional version has butter and in some versions even eggs. So here is my 'kinder' version of Kulkuls :) It's a fairly easy recipe. 

What You Need

(makes 25-30 kulkuls)

1 cup flour (maida)
1/2 cup semolina (rava)
1/4th cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons salt
1/4th cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons soya/almond/plant-based mylk

How To Make

We'll roast the semolina (rava) on a dry pan on medium heat for a few minutes till it smells toasty. In a large bowl add flour, cooled down semolina and salt. Now add the coconut oil and start to mix with your hands, you'll get a crumbly dough. Now add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix again. Finally add the soya mylk and knead the dough well. It should be dry-ish and not wet, but you still want it to be pliable. 

Kulkul dough

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. 

Now gather around and everyone who wants to make kulkuls with you (the more the faster) grab a fork. Pluck 2- inch sections of the dough and press on the back of the fork. Now roll upwards. They might not be perfect, it's ok. Every table of kulkul makers will have a show-off and the failure- it's ok, all kulkuls are equal. 

Roll em up!

When all your kulkuls are shaped heat a large bottomed vessel with oil for deep frying. Let it heat up on med-high for 4-5 minutes. Take a speck of the dough and test the oil. If the dough rises up it's hot enough. Add the first batch of Kulkuls gently into the hot oil. 

Reduce flame to simmer and the kulkuls cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remember to flip them in the middle. Drain them of oil with your spoon and lay on a plate lined with tissue paper. 

While they are still hot sprinkle on some more powdered sugar. 

Your kulkuls are ready! Spread New Year/Christmas cheer by sharing. 

Here's to a bright, kind, and adventurous. I'll see you guys on the other side! Keep it real.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Talking Shop With Pavan Melukote, Founder of Nutrimake + Nutrimake Cake Experiment

Meet Pavan Melukote, a native South Bangalorean who still gets frazzled by the idea of the city expanding past inner ring road. 

Growing up, he was that nerdy kid who opened up electronic machines at home for fun. From his TV to the washing machine at home (bless his parents), Pavan claimed his tinkering taught him to fix just about anything.

As he started adulting, he became an engineer by qualification and a problem solver by profession. Pavan worked with National Instruments R&D for six and a half years before taking the plunge into the food industry. 

First, he tested waters in this new industry as the COO with Veganarke. It was a period of time that taught him a lot about the manufacturing area of the food business industry. That's when he decided he was going to start something up on his own. The product he had in mind was channeled with focused intent: to create a meal that was more nutritious than any other meal replacement product in the country and that took less than ten seconds to make.

Pray, why did he even think of something this specific?

Two years ago Pavan made a shake with protein powder, a banana, and ragi (finger millet). It was both delicious and filling. Then he read about Soylent in January  2018. 

"I was impressed by their campaign and their record, when I decided to part ways with Veganarke, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. So, thank you, Rob Reinhart," says Pavan. 

Since Pavan cooks a lot he understood the fundamentals of taste profiles. He went back in time to use the flavors he loved as a child to create Nutrimake. 

The rest is history. Now let's talk all about Nutrimake in this interview with Pavan!

     Is there such a thing as the 'right time'  to jump into running your own business?

Pavan Melukote: Often we romanticize the answers to questions like these and say, just follow your dreams. Unfortunately, it ain’t true. We all have our own commitments and bases to cover before we set out on adventures that are definitely more rewarding, but also come with a lot of risks.

I say the right time is when you have figured out how to cover your bases and are confident to begin your entrepreneurial journey. For me, it was about having enough experience and financial backup to fall back on in case I needed to, especially since my family is financially dependent on me.  Thanks to 6.5 years in IT, I had a good amount of savings accumulated to get me a launchpad.

Apart from having personal confidence in starting your venture, it is important to have an understanding of what you want to do; a vision for your company. This might change but doesn’t mean you should shoot in the dark.

"The right time to jump is when you've figured out how to cover your bases and are confident to begin  your entrepreneurial journey."

 What's the coolest thing you learned when you were experimenting with Nutrimake ingredients?

Pavan Melukote: You can make cakes with Nutrimake :D
Nutrimake is a versatile product, because of the many natural ingredients we use, people have the flexibility to use it in many applications – including cakes, laddoos, and energy bars. 

Some of the other examples of the cool things I learned is that Nutrimake stabilizes blood sugar in people suffering from hypoglycemic activity, that was so cool! It also makes recovery post-workout much better!

"I learned is that Nutrimake stabilizes blood sugar in people suffering from hypoglycemic activity, that was so cool!" 

 I was talking to you about how Nutrimake can serve several purposes at the same time. Can you talk about 3 unique needs that could be met with this product?

Pavan Melukote: Convenient Meals – Often, in our busy urban lives, we tend to skip breakfast and other meals or eat incomplete and unhealthy quick meals, Nutrimake fills this gap perfectly. It has all the nutrients your body needs and takes less than 30 seconds to prepare.

Complete Nutrition – We are only beginning to pay heed to Nutritionists’ advice and understand all the elements our body needs to function effectively. Nutrimake is probably one of the very very few meals that guarantee complete nutrition – every element of nutrition your body needs is available in each serving at adequate quantities.

Designed for Everyone – Nutrimake, unlike many other specialty diet foods, is made for pretty much everyone on the planet irrespective of the age, gender, and other barriers. Our customer base is scattered across the spectrum with people as young as 15 years of age to as old as 85 years of age, it is heartwarming to see that it is adding value and nutrition to the lives of all these people.

 "Every element of nutrition your body needs is available in each serving at adequate quantities."

What's the longest trip you've taken on your two-wheeler delivering your own products? Do you hope to look back at these moments with some pleasure, knowing you can honestly say you gave every part of yourself to this product and its business?

Pavan Melukote: 127Kms on a single day! I did a route from JP Nagar- Koramangala - Varathur - Ramurthy Nagar - Indiranagar - Austin Town - Nagarabhavi - Hosakerehalli - Mylasandra- Kanakapura Road.

I absolutely look back at that, I still do deliveries by myself sometimes, and it is always pleasurable to talk to the customers face to face and get their feedback on the service. Apart from delivering a kickass product, offering great service is also something we pride ourselves with.

 As a vegan running a plant-based business, tell us why you think plant-based industries are the future.

Pavan Melukote: Two parts to this answer.

(i) As a vegan, I want plant-based industries to be the future, for ethical reasons. We abuse and murder innocent beings for no reason. This should stop.

(ii) Plant-Based industries will be the future, thanks to advances in science and technology. It is more efficient to make and sell plant-based products the costs involved are a lot less. It is only a matter of time before the world develops affordable cultured meat and dairy products. Capitalism will ensure that any product whose cost is less and the returns are more will succeed. When we offer affordable products that do not rob customers of their love of the taste of specific products, yet we reduce the cruelty and carbon footprints of such products, I don’t believe there’s any reason for the customers not to embrace this. We are waiting for the revolution to happen and it will.

 "I want plant-based industries to be the future, for ethical reasons. We abuse and murder innocent beings for no reason. It is only a matter of time before the world develops affordable cultured meat and dairy products"

 What flavor of Nutrimake do you honestly think Donald Trump would like? Why?

Pavan Melukote: I think President Trump would love all the flavors because anyone who says otherwise is only spreading fake news. So bad, so bad. They are the enemies of the people.


Now, this wraps up our interview part. But Messy Cooking Always Vegan went one step ahead and made a lovely Cinnamon Almond Teacake with Nutrimake as an experiment. The result? A truly wholesome cake that could actually be eaten for breakfast and will keep you fuller than any normal cake. You could make this cake way healthier too by omitting the oil and using applesauce and maybe just a bit of coconut cream. While the sugar and fat is what makes cake taste delcious, there isn't a reason not to pump up its nutritional value! 

Nutrimake Cinnamon Almond Teacake

What You Need

1 packet of Nutrimake Alcanut Flavour ( although Nutrimake Classic flavor should also work)
1.5 cup flour
1/2th cup vegetable oil
1 cup almond mylk 
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup jaggery powder (or sugar)
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder

How To Make 

In a large bowl combine almond mylk, jaggery powder, vanilla, salt, and chia seeds. Let the chia seeds sit in the bowl for 5 minutes. They kind of work like eggs do for baking. 
Now add the packet of Nutrimake, the flour, the baking powder and soda, and the cinnamon. Stir into a thick but moving batter. Add the nuts and give it a stir.

Pre-heat oven to 170c. Add batter to a greased cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.

Let cool. Cut up and serve at tea-time or eat while you're rushing out the door for work!

More questions about Nutrimake?
Get on to their website to order and follow them on FB.