food as a gift

“And the fruits will outdo what the flowers have promised.”
Francois de Malherbe
I sent my daughter & her friend off to my neighbours house to get a bagful of these tart little oranges; also referred to as ‘narangis‘ here. My neighbours’ tree was laden with them & she was more than happy to see them put to good use. I sent her a jar too, & distributed all but one, as I have a long list of bitter marmalade lovers waiting for their anual share! Most people here grow these plants for ornamental value. I got this British-style recipe from a friend of my mothers’. British-style marmalade is a sweet preserve with a bitter tang made from fruit, sugar, water, and (in some commercial brands) a gelling agent. American-style marmalade is sweet, not bitter.


The name “bitter orange” refers to a citrus tree (Citrus aurantium) and its fruit. Many varieties of bitter oranges are used for their essential oil, which is used in perfume and as a flavoring. They are also used in herbal medicine. Other names include sour orange, bigarade orange and Seville orange. Seville orange (or bigarade) is a widely-known, extremely tart orange now grown throughout the Mediterranean region. It has a thick, dimpled skin and is prized for making marmalade, being higher in pectin than the sweet orange. The unripe fruit called “narthangai” is commonly used in Southern Indian food, especially in Tamil cuisine.

Fresh off the tree from my neighbours’ house…


Every year when winter comes, I look at the fruit laden tree & talk myself into making marmalade again. It’s tough work & I end up like a clone of Edward Scissorhands because I snip the peels with kitchen scissors, & it takes forever. DH is witness to my swearing I shall never make marmalade again; & is also witness to my backtracking die-hard ways year after year. The taste of the marmalade is unbelieveable. It is typically bittersweet & to die for; many many leagues ahead of some store bought jars. Hot buttered toasts with a dash of marmalade is pure nirvana. Both the kids love a spoonful when they return home from school!!


Tangerines – 1 kg
Sugar – 1 kg
Water – 250ml

  • Sterilize 4-5 jam jars. Place a metal spoon in each jar (this ensures that the glass jar will not crack when the hot jam is poured in).
  • Halve the tangerines & deseed them. Tie the seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth & reserve them.
  • Now quarter the tangerines & then snip finely into strips with kitchen scissors.

  • Put the strips with the pouch of seeds in a heavy bottom pan on full heat. Boil for 2-3 minutes till the peel is tender, stirring constantly.

  • Add water & boil for 2-3 minutes. Now add sugar, stirring constantly.
  • Continue to boil on full heat for a further 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens & the strips becomes translucent.
  • Drop a few drops on a cold plate (like a metal steel plate to check if the jam is setting).
  • Put off the flame, discard the muslin pouch with the seeds & cool the pan slightly in a bath of cold water for 10minutes.
  • Now pour the marmalade into the jars. Refridgerate.

Citrus preserves are generally called ‘Marmalades’. The satisfaction of making your own jar of marmalade is worth all the effort that goes in.

In jars & waiting for despatch!

Gotta get this to Andreas‘ for her ‘Grow Your Own’ event quick. She hosts an event that celebrates the bounty of the garden.

“Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness. ”

Alexis F. Hope
Chocolate Sponge Cake with a Ganache Icing
And now finally, the recipe, as I had promised, for the Chocolate Cake I made for my household helps’ son . Sorry this is late, but life is busy, busy, busy!! The kids are home for the holidays; they are ALWAYS hungry; the daughter’s birthday is around the corner… & everything is happening all at once!!

Chocolate is special, it’s addictive & it’s a universal favourite.

Am posting this for JFI – January, a blog event which I committed to, & very nearly missed. It’s hosted this time by Deepz at Letz Cook, who has picked every body’s favourite ingredient…CHOCOLATE!! Great choice Deepz


Eggs – 3 (150gms)
Powdered Sugar – 75 gms
Flour – 50gms

Cornflour – 1 tbs (makes the cake texture lighter)
Cocoa – 2 tbsps
Baking powder – 1tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Vanilla Essence/Extract – 1 tsp
Cream – 400ml (whipping/35% fat)
Dark chocolate – 100gms (for the ganache)
Icing Sugar – 3-4 Tbsp
Cocoa – 1 tbsp
Chocolate flakes etc for decoration

For the sponge
  • Preheat oven to 180deg C.Grease and line a 6″ring tin
  • Sift the flour + baking powder + salt + cornflour + cocoa 3 times.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar well with beater till very thick ribbon falls and holds in place for at least 5 seconds (beat for approx 10mins)
  • Add vanilla essence and beat for 1 min.
  • Gently fold in the sifted flour; mix lightly so that air doesn’t escape.
  • If the batter is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of milk.
  • Turn gently into tin and bake for 30-35mins till done.
  • Once done, remove from tin after 5 mins and leave on rack to cool completely.
  • Cut horizontally into 3 layers.
  • Filling:
  • Whip 200ml whipping cream with 3 tbs powdered sugar until thick and holds peaks.
  • Whip in the cocoa powder .
  • Place the bottom most layer of the sponge on your serving platter, spread 1/2 of the whipped cream over it.
  • Place the middle layer over this, and repeat with the rest of the cream.
  • Topping:
  • While the cake is baking, put 200ml cream with the dark chocolate on simmer & continue to stir till the chocolate has melted. Take off heat & allow to cool completely. This will thicken as it cools.
  • Spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
  • Decorate the edges with chocolate flakes. Sprinkle 100’2 & 1000’s over the top. Drizzle with melted chocolate.
  • Chill well before serving.
  • Note: If the ganache is too thin, add a little more chocolate and heat on low till melted; and then cool. And, if the ganache is too thick, add a little more cream & repeat procedure.
Sprinkle the chocolate flakes just after putting the ganache on i.e. before it sets, otherwise it won’t hold the flakes. The same for any other decorations.
“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”
Charles Schulz
“Let’s dance and sing and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.”
Sir George Alexander Macfarren


Festive food for Christmas!

In a span of 2 days I baked over a 100 cupcakes & iced them as well. The first 80 were vanilla cupcakes, the ones for the playschool Christmas party. These last batch I had to do a little different for my own experimentation & therapeutic pleasure! The flavours of chocolate & orange complement each other beautifully. I love the way the Christmassy ones turned out with the red, white & green; & also the pink ‘n’ purple ‘very girly ones’. For the chocolate stars & flowers, I drizzled the stars, flowers, zigzags etc onto butter paper, & peeled them off gently once they were set. These can be made in advance and stored in an airtight box in a cool place. Fix them onto the top of the cupcake with a little melted chocolate. Makes the cupcakes look so good & ‘dressed up’.


Flour – 2 cups
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Butter – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 1 1/4 cup

Eggs – 2
Vanilla Essence / extract – 1 tsp
Milk – 1 cup

Baking Chocolate – 50gms / melted with 1 tsp of cream
Zest of 1 orange

  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line or grease the muffin pans.
  • Sift flour + baking powder + salt 3 times. Keep aside.
  • Cream butter + sugar well.
  • Add vanilla + eggs and beat well.
  • On low speed, beat in flour mix + milk alternatively in 3 lots.
  • Mix in the melted chocolate.
  • Fill muffin cases to 3/4th depth, and bake for 20-25 minutes till done.
  • Remove from muffin pan immediately & cool on racks.
  • For the icing, drizzle melted chocolate over the tops, sprinkle immediately with slivered pistachios, Christmas sprinkles, silver dragees etc.
  • Makes approximately 18 muffins.
    Note: For the 2nd lot , if you make 6 muffins in a 12 pan tin, fill a little water in each of the empty cases to ensure even baking.

Served with slices of freshly baked moist & delicious chocolate cake which has whole-wheat flour too!

With the same batch I iced a few differently to gift to a friend of my daughters’ where all the girls had gone to spend the day. They disappeared before I could even say something…

This post is for Bindiya at ‘In Love With Food’ who is hosting a delicious chocolate event ”MY FAV THINGS” … & celebrating her wedding anniversary today! All the best Bindiya…hope your day was great!!

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