India is the one dreamed of by everyone, a dream to go back in time and draw wisdom from what you have seen, felt, experienced to be reborn into a better person. Or so they say. I’ve never been there. I don’t know if I will ever go. I have hesitations. Nevertheless, I must admit that India enchants with the majesty of the snow-capped mountain peaks, with the variety of colors, the mystique of music and dance, with the daily lessons that change the soul and personality, with the ethereal charm of the Taj Mahal and the power of thousands fortresses. Its beauty lies in the skillful stone carvings, reminiscent of fine lace, in the smell of spices and flowers on the stalls and streets, in the incredible love stories, stunning contrasts, energy, in the millennial history, full of vicissitudes and most of all in the opportunity to find the pleasure of the little things that actually turn out to be the most important and necessary thing in rediscovering the meaning of life.
There are many things in common between Bulgaria and India: attachment to traditions, ancient history, temperament, hospitality, the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the people, tolerance, broad soul and heart, love of nature, rich mythological and literary treasure, common language family, love to music and dance, the pursuit of beauty, respect for other cultures, the ability to change, the deep connection to the earth, and perhaps our historical roots. 🙂
India is the second most populous country in the world. The population of Uttar Pradesh alone is more than 200 million. 😮 These are more people than those living in Japan, Mexico or Russia. Although the world abolished the practice of arranged marriages as early as the 18th century, such marriages continue to be practiced in India to this day. The idea of marriage is not complicated: instead of people choosing their partners, everyone else does it – parents, distant relatives, friends of relatives, etc. For the locals, marriage is more than a reunion of two people. It is about the unification of two families. Particular attention is paid to ensuring that a person does not marry outside his caste, community, religion, social status, etc. In case a family member contradicts the rules and regulations, he can be rejected or worse – killed, so as not to undermine the honor of the family or community. The girl’s family said goodbye to him with a bunch of gifts, mainly in the form of gold jewelry. These jewelry represent the woman’s dowry. Over time, the practice changed – families began to pay dowry in money, property and even the groom’s education, as a sign of gratitude for taking responsibility for their daughter. Under the pressure of dowry looming over many families, people often think that women are a burden. Among other things, a woman can be a threat to family honor if she is not beautiful enough to marry, or if she is raped.
Many Indians believe in ghosts or perform strange rituals. Their horoscope is quite complex and takes into account several aspects – from the day, probably to the nanosecond of human birth. Some women are said to have a Mangal dosh – and that would endanger their husbands’ lives. To “cure” her, the Indians believe that she should marry a tree. Another way to torture such a woman is to marry her to an animal.
One of the most horrifying rituals in India is the throwing of the baby, performed mainly by Muslims and some Hindus. To be blessed with children, people participate in this tradition, during which a child (two years old or even younger) is thrown from a tower about 15 meters high. Below, at the foot of the tower, crowds of people are waiting for him, holding out their hands to catch him.
The cannibals in Tanzania and New Zealand will seem straightforward compared to the agoras in India. They are part of a sect that not only practices cannibalism, but has turned it into its own culture and way of life. The religious sect consists of men who live in a cemetery near the city of Varanasi and use parts of dead bodies as vessels. The Agora people eat only the flesh of dead people and believe that in this way they build a connection with the afterlife. They are ascetics who wear almost no clothes and believe that they exist between life and death.
Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul as well. If there is a world cuisine that fits perfectly in this thought of Dorothy Day, then it is Indian. The food, created with hands, but also with a big soul, has a taste that satisfies our needs and charges us with energy. It gives us wings. India is called the country of spices and rightfully so. There is no other country in the world that produces as many different types of spices as India. It produces over 70% of the spices worldwide. 😮 Each region in India uses its own ingredients, spices and culinary techniques to create a unique taste of the dishes. One of the curious things about Indian cuisine is that most dishes are not complicated to prepare. You don’t need amazing culinary skills to make an Indian dinner. It is enough to make sure that you have a lot of fresh products and a variety of spices.
There are six different flavors in Indian culinary traditions: sweet (madhura), salty (lavana), bitter (tikta), sour (amala), acerb (kasya) and spicy (katu). Typical Indian dishes usually have a balance of all 6 flavors, with a maximum of 1-2 flavors absent and the rest included in the dish. Some of the most used products are potatoes, tomatoes and hot red peppers, which were imported to India by the Portuguese. The Portuguese also import refined white sugar, before the Indians used fruit or honey to sweeten their dishes. One of the most beloved desserts in South India is Payasam pudding. He must be present in the menu of important events and ceremonies such as weddings. According to South Indian tradition, the wedding is not over until Payasam is served.
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system, there are 3 categories of food: Saatvic (fresh vegetables and juices), Raajsic (Raajsic / Rajastic) (fatty and spicy food) and Taamsik (Taamsic) (meat and drinks). Satvic are foods that are natural and minimally processed like fresh vegetables and are believed to have a positive, soothing and cleansing effect on the body and mind. Rajastic are foods that are spicy, fatty, salty, bitter, that awaken ambition, competitive spirit and ego. Tamasic foods are those that are highly processed, toxic, difficult to digest and can have a negative effect on the body and mind.
India is home to one of the hottest red peppers – bhut jolokia or also called ghost pepper. It is estimated that it is about 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. In 2007, this variety received a certificate for the most hot spicy taste from the Guinness Book of World Records.
About 20 to 40% of Indians are vegetarians. Although not all Hindus are vegetarians and not all Indians are Hindus, vegetarianism is an important part of the traditional beliefs and attitudes of the people.
I can bet that if you are asked about Indian dishes most of you will say curry. And although curry is a mixture of spices, this name is also used for a sauce, which can be with or without meat and is present on the table as an additional dish (as is the bread for us). Curry is the name of a mixture of aromatic spices in a combination of 5, 7, 13 or more in number. The ratios between the spices and their quantities depend mainly on the dish that is prepared with the aromatic mixture. The most common curry powder includes turmeric, ginger, black pepper, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, as well as fenugreek, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, paprika and others. The truth is that there is no standard recipe for a combination of ingredients in the preparation of curry. There are many variations – hot curry, sweet curry, Malay, Thai, Madras, Indian, Ceylon and others. The curry has a deep yellow color and a completely unique aroma that you can’t go wrong. It gives the dishes a mainly spicy taste, but at the same time it is a faithful helper for human health, bringing a number of benefits. In fact, curry is universal and can be added to all dishes. So I guess you won’t be surprised that the Indian cake contains curry. 🙂 Here are the necessary products for it:
for the cake base:
200 grams of flour
1 tablespoon curry
7 grams of baking powder
220 grams of sugar
100 grams of coconut shavings
180 ml of coconut milk
60 ml of oil
for egg whites foam:
100 ml of water
375 grams of sugar
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon curry
for pineapple compote:
600 grams of pineapple (1 fruit is enough)
100 grams of sugar
1 star anise (I missed it)
1 cinnamon stick
50 grams of unsalted peanuts (I missed them)
15 grams of coconut shavings
1 teaspoon curry
Steps of preparation:
In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients for the base of the cake. Beat the egg with the coconut milk and oil. Then mix the dry and wet ingredients. Grease a baking tray with a diameter of 24 cm and cover the bottom with baking paper.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes. When the base is ready, leave it to cool completely on the rack.
Prepare pineapple compote by peeling the fruit and cut it into cubes. In a saucepan put half the sugar to melt on the stove. Then add the remaining sugar. I did not understand why it is made in parts, but I decided to follow the recipe.
Once the mixture turns caramel, add the anise and cinnamon. I missed the anise because this spice is not respected at home. Finally, add the pineapple cubes. Stir for about 3 minutes and then allow the compote to cool.
For the egg whites foam, boil sugar syrup with 2/3 of the sugar and water. The temperature of the syrup should reach 121 degrees. In a perfectly dry bowl, beat the egg whites (which are at room temperature) with the curry at foam until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar syrup in a thin stream without stopping to beat. Be careful not to pour the syrup directly on the mixer stirrers so that it does not remain on them. Beat until the mixture is shiny.
Place the base of the cake in a serving dish. Smear the walls and the cake on top with the egg whites foam. Using a spoon or a knife, make a dent in the middle of the cream. Using a gas burner, burn the foam to the extent you like. This time I was frugal in scorching.
Pour pineapple compote into the shaped bowl. Sprinkle with ground peanuts, coconut shavings and curry. Garnish with mint for freshness.
If there is a cake that tastefully says the name of the country I make it for, then this is it. If you try it, you know it’s India. Its taste screams “India.” I had reservations about how curry fits into dessert, but let me tell you it fits perfectly. 🙂 This cake is one of the pleasant surprises during my cake tour. Or approaching it without expectations, the taste turned out to be great precisely because of the lack of expectations. I recommend you try it. On the scale of difficulty it is about 5 (mostly because of the protein foam, otherwise it would be 3), but on the scale of taste it is 10. 😉 I don’t know if I will go to India. I may not be at such a stage in my life that I want it, but I know that people who have been there are captivated, startled, shocked, fascinated by all the strong emotions that this unusual place obviously evokes in foreigners. At least it’s certainly not boring. 😀
Next destination – Indonesia.