Dec 15, 2013

Vegan Jewish Apple Cake

Home Bakers Challenge presented a very interesting recipe of apple cake and it was to be Jewish. At the outset, the recipe did not present anything "different" to classify it as Jewish and I was intrigued. After going through a lot of forums, I gleaned that one of the rules of Kashrut (Jewish Dietary law) upon which Kosher foods are based, is that Meat and Dairy should not be mixed at a meal. This might explain why this cake is called so because it uses oil instead of butter and does not use any milk in it.

In my drive to make it Egg free, I have substituted the eggs simply with Ener-G replacer.
I have also substituted half the fat with applesauce making this a very healthy recipe. The cake keeps well in the refridgerator, in an air tight container, for atleast a week from personal experience.
I was overstocked with apples left over from a fruit salad made for a pot-luck, languishing in the fridge till this challenge came along to rescue them!

Vegan Jewish Apple Cake

Servings: 1 9-inch cake
Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time:


3-4 Medium sized Apples (I used Jonathan but granny smith or honey crisp should work very well too)
3 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Ener-G replacer + 8 tbs Warm Water (replaces 4 eggs)
1 1/2 cup Sugar (I used 1 cup since the apples were sweet)
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder (If double acting baking powder use half the quantity)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1/4 tsp Cup Orange Juice (Tropicana works fine)
2 tsp Vanilla Essence

2 tsp Cinnamon
3 tbsp Confectioner's (Fine) Sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment
  3. Combine 2 tsp cinnamon and 3 tbsp of fine Sugar and keep aside
  4. Peel, core and cut the apples into 1-inch pieces. I made the pieces smaller because my family wouldnt enjoy biting into soft big pieces of apple. 
  5. If cutting the apple before hand, drizzle 2 tsp of Lemon juice on coat the pieces with it. This will prevent browning.
  6. Prepare the egg replacer as per instructions on the product. If using Ener-G then pour the powder in the warm water and stir till well combined. It should become creamy after mixing. Keep aside

  7. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a container.
  8. Mix together the oil, applesauce. orange juice, egg replacer mix and vanilla essence.
  9. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix till just combined. 
  10. Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top with 1/2 the apple pieces and sprinkle half the cinnamon-sugar mixture on it.
  11. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan and top with the remaining apple pieces and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on it.
  12. Bake at 350 F for 60-80 minutes.

Hitikida Avare Sambhar (De-skinned Hyacinth beans Curry)

T will be proud to know that I figured out the botanical name of the delectable Avarekaalu  - It is called the Dolichos Lablab!
While Bengaluru orignally got its name from the boiled beans served to a Hoysala king who had lost his way hunting, Benda-kaalu-ooru (boiled beans place) has gone on to become the Silicon Valley of India thereby sending a sizeable amount of its populace to distant lands where this vegetable is never grown. But, thanks to a lot of enterprise in the food sector catering to the Desi populace in said distant lands, frozen varieties of the beans are easily available in most of the Indian grocery stores. We can now find this tasty bean in the frozen foods section under the name Surti Lilva Papdi. It does come with a setback of extremely small sized beans which makes it tough to de-skin. I simply use the beans whole and skip the step of de-skinning it because it would leave behind not much of the beans. Nevertheless we plough on with vigour to create a dish which has been the hallmark of my mother-in-law's cooking repertoire. She is the queen of the kootu which I am going to describe here while (pardon me) salivating for a taste of it.

Hitikida Avare simply means beans whose skin has been removed. It does require soaking of the beans overnight to make the skin soft enough to be removed. So plan in advance.

Hitikida Avare Sambhar

Servings: 6 cups of Sambhar or Curry
Prep Time: 12 hrs including the shelling, overnight soak and de-skinning   Cook Time: 30-40 mins


6 cups of Avarekayi (Beans with shells) or enough to get 2 cups of shelled beans
1 medium sized Tomato

To Grind

2 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Channa dal
1/2 tsp Urad dal
1 tsp Cumin seeds
4 Red Chillies (adjust to taste)
2 tbsp Coconut
1/2 Onion
4 Garlic pods
1 inch Cinnamon stick
2-3 Cloves
1 Star Anise (masala hoovu)



  1. Shell the beans from the avarekayi pods (skip the step if using frozen shelled beans)
  2. Soak the beans overnight or for 6 hours in water, with water reaching above the level of the beans
  3. To remove skin - Hold the soaked bean between thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure on it till the innards pop out of the skin. Discard the skin and save the de-skinned beans. 
  4. Tip : Aim the bean down towards a container so that the de-skinned beans pop right into it. 
  5. This step can be a family activity since it is a time consuming process. Kids will have a lot of fun with the beans flying all around them after popping out of the skin!
  6. I will post pictures of it, the next time I am around in India when this is in progress. 

Boil beans

  1. Boil the shelled, de-skinned beans in water along with some salt till soft to the touch. Do not over cook it else it will all get mashed. 
  2. Keep the beans and the water aside.

Grind the Masala

  1. Dry roast the coriander seeds, channa dal, urad dal and jeera in a heavy bottomed vessel and keep aside.
  2. Dry roast the coconut till lightly browned and dry. Keep aside
  3. To the same vessel, add a tsp of Oil (there will be some oil left over from the coconut) and shallow fry the onion, garlic, red chillies, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. 
  4. Once all the spices are cooled, grind them all together with 4 tbsp of boiled beans.

Bringing the Sambhar to life

  1. Add the ground masala to the boiled beans and water and cook on medium heat for around 5  minutes till combined
  2. Add the chopped tomato and allow the sambhar to boil for another 10 minutes. Add water to get the required consistency of sambhar. Do not make it too thick or too watery.
  3. Adjust the salt
  4. Temper with Mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida in a tsp of Oil
  5. Serve hot with Rice or Ragi Mudde
  6. Personaly I like it with chapathi, dose also. 

Ragi Mudde (Finger Millet Balls)

Ragi (Finger Millet) is that wonder grain to which peans ought to be written. It is the richest source of calcium and helps builds bone strength in our bodies and therefore essential for growing children and also in older adults. It is a wonderful source of anti-oxidants and has a good amount of dietary fiber which ensures that we feel fuller for a longer time thus reducing the chances of snacking in between meals or over-eating. The slow digestion aids in controlling blood sugar levels and therefore can be a staple in a diabetic's diet. It has a very small percentage of fat but even then its unsaturated fats.
Ragi is one of the best sources of protein providing many of the essential amino acids which should be reason enough to be incorporated into all vegetarian diets. It is one of the main sources of Methionine which helps reduce cholesterol, reduce fat inside the livers and help protect kidneys.
When sprouted, Ragi develops Vitamin C which helps in absorption of the Iron content in the grain.
Ragi can be prepared in many number of ways,as a ball, sweet or salty porridge, flatbreads, sweets especially with jaggery, each very tasty!
In this post I will talk about making the easiest preparation with Ragi called the Mudde. It is a staple in Karnataka especially among the rural folk. But I think it is about time that the urbanscape adopted this wonder grain into their diets and reap the benefits.

Ragi Mudde (Finger Millet Balls)

Servings: 4 balls
Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 10 mins


1 1/2 cups Ragi Flour
3 1/2 cups Water
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Oil (optional)


  • Heat water in a vessel and along with salt, oil and 4 tbsp of Ragi flour.
  • When the water starts to boil (notice bubbles appearing through the flour) stir in the remaining flour.
  • Use a  1-inch thick wooden dowel or the back of a big wooden spoon (which wont break under pressure) to combine the flour well into the water.
  • Allow it to cook for 5 mins and remove from stove. By now the raw smell of ragi must be replaced by a cooked smell.
  • Let it cool for 2-3 mins (this step is optional but my hand cant take the heat)
  • Take a large blob of the mix and place on a slightly greased flat plate. (1/2 tsp of Oil)
  • Now wet your hands with water and shake off the excess.
  • Working quickly knead the dough a couple of times and then start to roll it into a ball. 
  • You might have to dip your hand in water to prevent the dough from sticking to your hand. Optionally work with greased hands.
  • Roll the ball in your hands till the surface is smooth.
  • Repeat with the rest of the flour. 
  • Serve hot with a side dish like Gojju, Sambhar or Hidakbele Saaru which have a watery consistency and not too thick.
  • To eat, pinch off a piece of the mudde from the ball, soak it in the side dish and pop it in your mouth. Ideally the mudde should be swallowed without chewing. although I must admit I havent mastered that yet.
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