baking in India

So much chocolate. So little time!

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Wine Macerated Strawberries is really as good as it sounds and looks, and tastes even better. The cheesecake is a chocolate lovers delight – deep, dark, rich, sensuous, indulgent, sinful. With so many superlatives, I might well throw another in. It’s dead S I M P L E too! Make it ASAP and you’ll know just what I mean.It’s a recipe I’ve minimally adapted from Ruchira @ Cookaroo. She’s quite the best ‘chef’ I know. Her recipes are always quick, simple and foolproof. I’ve made this Dark Chocolate Cheesecake before and it was SO GOOD that I couldn’t wait to make it again.The recipe now lives in my head. I go about tweaking it here and there depending on what I have on hand. It’s a keeper!  Minimal fuss, maximum taste! I throw it together in my Thermomix and it takes under 20 minutes to come together. I used digestive biscuits the last time. Didn’t have digestives on hand this time, so I threw in Hobnobs instead. Just as good! I do a lot of chocolate desserts, simple ones mostly. Simple recipes like these leave you a lot of time to think about what more you can do. I could have just gone naked {ahem} with the cheesecake, but a luscious rich chocolate ganache takes this beautiful Dark Chocolate Cheesecake to a delicious new level. How could I skip it. The cake was for a birthday, so now something had to be celebratory, I mean a little more celebratory. Also, so much time on hand makes me fidgety. I just have to do something more!

I thought maybe salter butter caramel and had visions of gooey goodness dripping off the edges. Yet when I opened the fridge, I saw a box of juicy fresh strawberries and I knew I had to have them on some way. Maybe do strawberries in balsamic vinegar? No, no, strawberries in red wine screamed the bottle of Shiraz at me.You might remember these Lamb Chops with Red Wine I made recently, best I’ve ever made. Rosemary, garlic, and a limited edition Shiraz came together ever so beautifully to create this dish with so much character and loads of depth. There was some wine left over, so red wine macerated strawberries it was going to be.Anything on my kitchen counter becomes an ingredient in my recipes. Loads of fresh oranges and star anise sitting pretty on the counter could only mean one thing. They would help flavour my macerated strawberries. In went the zest of an orange and a few star anise. They created delightful undertones as you can well imagine.The result was a flavoursome, beautifully coloured red wine topping which tastes as good as it looks. Here you go, the recipe is a must try. For me, it’s the only chocolate cheesecake recipe I’ll ever need! Thank you Ruchira ♥!

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Red wine macerated strawberries
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Dark, divine, sinful, creamy, chocolaty and above all, as simple as can be, this Dark Chocolate Cheesecake will leave you wanting for more. Recipe minimally adapted from Ruchira @ thegreatcookaroo.com. You won’t need another recipe ever! Can be made 2-3 days ahead of time.
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 12 hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 12 hours
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Red wine macerated strawberries
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Dark, divine, sinful, creamy, chocolaty and above all, as simple as can be, this Dark Chocolate Cheesecake will leave you wanting for more. Recipe minimally adapted from Ruchira @ thegreatcookaroo.com. You won’t need another recipe ever! Can be made 2-3 days ahead of time.
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 12 hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 12 hours
Red wine macerated strawberries
Servings: people
Biscuit base
  1. Whiz the biscuits, brown sugar and cocoa in food processor until you get a fine meal. Add butter, whiz again to mix. Press into 8″ loose bottom tin. Chill in the freezer while you get the filling ready, and the oven preheats.
Dark Chocolate Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Place all ingredients of the filling in bowl of food processor, and blend well to mix, 1-2 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Pour into crust, and bake for an hour. Leave to cool in the oven, then cover and chill for 4-6 hours, better overnight.
Red Wine Macerated Strawberries
  1. in a non reactive bowl, put in the strawberries, star anise, orange zest and brown sugar. Stir to mix, then pour in the wine. Stand covered in the fridge overnight.
  2. Discard the star anise, and strain the strawberries. Reserve in a bowl. Place wine in a small saucepan with a quarter cup orange juice, and simmer until thick and syrupy. taste and adjust sweetness if required. Cool slightly, then pour over the strawberries.
  3. Ladle the strawberries over the ganache. If the syrup is thin, reduce it further until nice and thick. Cool and pour over strawberries.
  1. Place chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Whisk​ with a balloon whisk​ until smooth. Cool about 30 minutes, then whisk​ again​. Chill until a little f​irm. Whisk once again till glossy and smooth, and holds peaks. Spread over​ chilled cheesecake.
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“The belly rules the mind.”
Spanish Proverb

SBOW Khan MarketSodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market. It was just going to be a matter of time. When AD Singh opened the now almost iconic SodaBottleOpenerWala in Gurgaon it made waves across the NCR. Soon there were groans from folk across Delhi, pleading for a branch in their part of town. With many iconic Irani cafés, a quintessential experience of a near extinct culture and cuisine, downing shutters of late in Mumbai, one might have wondered why Delhi would even consider a rebirth here. Then again, this is AD Singh & Olive …he got it spot on! Again.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon You know I loved the first SBOW that opened closer to home in Gurgaon. I never stopped talking about it. Recently we heard whoops of joy from the Dilliwalahs. A Bawaji joint was opening in the heart of Delhi, and they were loving it! What better location for an iconic Delhi Parsi Cafe than the iconic Khan Market, vibrant and bustling. Tucked away in the heart of Khan market, Olive pays tribute to the dying legacy of the Irani café … bringing it to life in style!

SBOW KhanSBOW at Khan is located on the first and second floor off a long winding food lane, very old world charm. Quite unlike the Cybercity venue which is very retro, French cafe street feel on the outdoors, set amidst new architecture. The feel within is the same … chaotic, crowded, bustling, colourful, quirky, eccentric and real world Irani café. Up the steep stairs in Khan Market and you are once again ushered into a different world. Framed pictures in sepia and black and white from generations of Parsis unknown, actual antiques, quirky quaint mirrors, quotes so reflective of this small tight knit community. Barni glass jars, tiffin carriers, taxi meters, cuckoo clocks, tin boxes…paraphernalia galore, it’ a feast for the eyes!

SBOW Khan Market
Photo Courtesy Lavina Kharkwal

It was a cozy small get together at the launch … food enthusiasts from across the NCR, AD Singh in gentle attendance, drinks and food flowing non stop. Such a fun opening menu brought together by an ace team , drinks did the rounds with the heady Bawaji Nu Thullu and Raspberry Soda amongst the most popular, with the Shikanjiben following a close second. It was time to abandon the camera and nonsensical light headed banter took over!

SBOW KhanWith drinks can food be far behind? The menu sees several new additions and make overs from the first branch. My absolute favorites in starters were Mushroom on Khari, Breach Candy Awesome Okra, Tareli Macchi, Chicken Baida Roti. The egg lovers didn’t stop ranting about the Dukkar Galli John’s Famous Egg Sandwich, and couldn’t tear themselves away from it either. Everyone ate lots. LOTS!

Berry Pulao, Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, GurgaonSoon came main course. Main course? I was stuffed already but one look at the Berry Pulao, a lamb berry pulao at that had everyone grabbing forks again. It is the best offering from SBOW and one not to be missed. It’s a must try on their vast and intriguing menu. Add some Bhendi Bazaar Sheekh Paratha and Kolmi Fry and this gastronomic Parsi journey is even happier. Did I mention the sweetest and funniest young stand up comedian Danesh Irani? That too. He had the captivated audience roaring with laughter with ‘The Last Parsi’ written by Meherzad Patel.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon

SBOW Khan 5Dessert anyone? I groaned as I was ready to burst but can you keep the fingers away from the delicious to the last crumb 5 Star Brownie? Not possible at all. Also impossible to resist is the Toblerone Mousse which is smooth, silky, indulgent … divine. Glass scraping good stuff. Another very interesting dessert addition is the Bun Maska Jam. Pillowy soft white buns smothered with butter and jam send you right back into a nostalgic journey into the past. Yes they’ve got it spot on. Again! SBOW KhanSoda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon It’s a celebration of a cuisine that faced possible extinction and exposure to a community which is very small and largely unknown for it’s cuisine in North India. Ad Singh with his wonderfully talented team has given Delhi a memorable foodie destination, not once, but twice over! Kudos to the team behind this legacy … very talented and quite unassuming Mohit Balachandran from the food blog Chowder Singh who’s been active with Olive for several years, Head Chef Kulbeer, Cuisine authenticator and Parsi Chef Manager Anahita Dhody

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“I ♥ Avocados”

Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {gluten free} & the New Zealand Avocado Season Launch, New Delhi with Masterchef Kunal KapoorAvocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {Gluten Free}…a cake inspired by so much avocado goodness that we saw at the New Zealand Avocado Season Launch. Last week saw loads of avocado recipes churned out by the very talented and sweet Chef Kunal Kapoor at the New Zealand High Commission, New Delhi.

Celebrity Masterchef Kunal Kapur said “New Zealand Hass avocados are an amazing healthy and versatile wholefood that contain the good fats needed to maintain a healthy heart. They interestingly blend with everyday Indian meals and the soft buttery texture and nutty flavour goes really well with many traditional dishes such as Bhel Puri and Tawa Pulao. They also blend seamlessly with curries”.

 New Zealand Avocado Season Launch with Chef Kunal KapoorIt’s always interesting to see what the chef does with food, creating innovative recipes, often off the beaten path. He put  avocados right into the heart of Indian cuisine, the pairings quite unexpected and intriguing. I loved the idea of a New Zealand Avocado and Cheese Parantha, New Zealand Avocado Bhel Puri, New Zealand Avocado & Cucumber Soup, AVAVZA Avocado & Vanilla Srikhand and a New Zealand Avocado and Kiwi Lassi. Other recipes included New Zealand Avocado and Chicken Kebabs, New Zealand Avocado and Coconut Stew, New Zealand Avocado and Tuna Cheese Toast,New Zealand Avocado Tawa Pulao , New Zealand Avocado & Coconut chutney.Avocado

Health benefits of New Zealand Avocado

Beautiful skin The vitamins & antioxidants in Avocado can improve your skin from the inside
Energy & vitality The iron, niacin and vitamin B6 in Avocado support energy levels and help to unlock energy from your food
Healthy heart The good fats and omega acids in Avocado help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels
Nutrient booster Avocados help your body absorb more nutrients from other foods they are eaten with
Protection Vitamin C in Avocado contributes to  protection of cells from free radical damage
Healthy digestion Fibre in Avocado keeps your digestive system in shape

With Chef Kunal Kapoor & Chef Sabyasachi Gorai at the New Zealand High Commission for the Launch of the avocado season, Oct 2014It was an interesting and fun evening, with loads of good company too. Two of my favourite chefs I recently spoke about were there – Kunal and Saby, or formally Master Chef Kunal Kapoor and Chef Sabyasachi Gorai. Also present were a great bunch of foodies. The evening disappeared amidst non stop banter, laughter, fine avocado based bites, and choicest NZ wine.AvocadoWe came away with an avocado each. I swapped my normal green one for this ripe one because I fell in love with the pinkish red hue. It seemed a good fit for Pinktober too! I had an idea in my head after all the avocado talk! Back home, my ripe and ready to eat av headed for a gluten free chocolate cake; a cake where the New Zealand Avocado and Indian buckwheat flour aka kuttu ka aata met. Fab pairing!

Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {gluten free}The cake was yet another experiment. A delicious one. I was fairly confident it would work, but you really never know until you slice it, nibble at a few crumbs etc. It was divine. Fudgy fudgy fudgy. Sinfully chocolaty too; a fallen chocolate cake.

Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {gluten free} I substituted 50% of the fat {butter} with the mashed avocado to reduce the fat content and add some fibre, iron, niacin etc. The  Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {Gluten Free} tasted even better the next day. Maybe the flavours matured. It was fudgier, the chocolate taste was deeper, and it stayed as moist as moist could be. The crumb is delicate because the only flour in here is a gluten free buckwheat flour, or ‘kuttu ka aata‘ as locally called. Handle it with care!

Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {gluten free} Try this if you like. You can always use almond meal to keep it gluten free, or use whole wheat flour to keep it healthy and whole grain. It’s been a while since I’ve used plain all purpose flour, and I’m not in a hurry to do so! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I might skip the butter altogether next time.

Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {gluten free} Well now I’m going to keep my eyes open for more avocados as I have a few sweet and savoury ideas brewing in my head. Avocados are not commercially grown in India. They do grow down south in a few private gardens as I remember seeing the beautiful fruit hanging off trees when we went on a midnight walk while attending the IFBM in August! Until then, it’ll have to be New Zealand avocados for me!

[print_this]Recipe: Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {Gluten Free}
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Summary: Avocado Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {Gluten Free} is divine. Fudgy fudgy fudgy. Sinfully chocolaty too, this fallen chocolate cake tastes even better the next day. It is fudgier, the chocolate taste deeper, and it stays as moist as moist can be. The crumb is delicate because the only flour in here is a gluten free buckwheat flour.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 150g dark chocolate {52%}, melted
  • 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 150g ripe avocado flesh {from 1 md avocado, mashed with a fork}
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 50g buckwheat flour {kuttu ka aata}
  • 10g popped amaranth for topping {optional}


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line the bottom of a loaf tin.
  2. In a large bowl, whip together the melted chocolate, butter, avocado puree, vanilla extract and eggs until smooth and light.
  3. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat again for a minute to incorporate.
  4. Fold in the buckwheat flour and transfer batter to prepared tin. Sprinkle over with popped amaranth if desired.
  5. Bake for about an hour / until done using the tester.
  6. Leave to cool in the loaf tin. Loosen edges and gently turn out of tin.


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