Hindu bakes and eggless cakes

Here in the UK we have entered the final week of that TV phenomenon which is the Great British Bake Off. Whether you tune in for the banter of Mel and Sue,the delectablebakes or Mary’s stylish jackets, you are in good company with BBC News reporting an epic 9.3 million viewers tuning in to watch the opening episode. It’s safe to say that we belong to a country with a serious sweet tooth.

However, those of us with not only a fondness for the odd sugary treat but for the exotic cuisine of India, will know that we are not the only country out there capable of delivering a devastatingly delicious dessert or two. India takes its sweetsseriously too, boasting a wide range of delectable options ranging from the crisp decadence of sugar-soaked gulabjamun, to the warming, spiced rice pudding known as kheer – reportedly a favourite of the Hindu gods. You might also be familiar with the velvety Indian fudge, barfi, a staple sweet for any special occasion, or the crunchy whorls of deep-fried jalebi, consumed warm and coated in sugar crystals. In a nutshell, Indian desserts are hard to resist.
But for a country that plays host to the world’s largest Hindu population outside Nepal, a religious group whose most devout followers traditionally lead a vegetarian lifestyle, is it possible to use the ingredients necessary for a nice fat slice of good old-fashioned cake? After all, Hindus that adhere closely to tradition will consume a diet devoid of meat, fish and eggs. Obviously the first two ingredients on this list don’t present a problem when it comes to bakes, but eggs most certainly do.
Fortunately, dairy – another key ingredient of a tasty cake – is not prohibited from the Hindu diet. Despite the cruelties now associated with the dairy industry here in the UK, traditional Hindu beliefs view the cow as a revered beast, practically a member of the family. As a result, ghee, curds, milk and the various associated desserts and products have played an important role in the Hindu diet. Even Lord Krishna, the holy cowherd himself, was considered to be a dairy aficionado.
However, it is the eggs in baking that we rely on to achieve that fluffy texture. A cake created with egg tends towards a light, spongy consistency. Luckily, there are other ingredients that can be used instead for those who wish to avoid eggs but keep the cake a-coming. Mashed bananas make a good alternative, as does silken tofu and yoghurt. Interestingly, even vinegar with baking soda can provide that cloud-like texture. 
NDTV.com offers a selection of eggless cake recipes, many from acclaimed Indian chefs. Their top tips to ensure your eggless cake doesn’t fall flat include: take time to thoroughly beat the fat into the sugar in order to keep the mixture light and fluffy; fold in any dry ingredients carefully; use raising agents sparingly; and allow the cake to cool on a wire rack to avoid the dreaded collapse. 
Have we woken any sugar cravings? If so, why not book a table at one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants? The mouth-watering dessert menu is sure to keep you satisfied!
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About Parvesh Bravo

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