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Nut bread flashback

Sunday, Jun 28, 2020 14:30 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Jun 28, 2020 09:01 [IST]

Nut bread flashback

S. BALAKRISHNAN
Can anut bread narrate its flashback memories? Well, as a kid if you had enjoyed the Western fairytale ‘The Gingerbread man”, you are bound to enjoy this Oriental nut bread’s story also, as narrated by me. All thishappened because of the ‘We Inside, Corona Outside’, ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ effect of Lockdown 5.0 due to NCovid-19. Blame the Corona!
Under house arrest for long and with lots of time on hand, I was dusting my book collection, most of which is untouched and unread, just to show off my intellectual caliber. For your information, most of them are borrowed and never returned! Then I chanced upon a cookery guide book of my bachelorhood days. Out of curiosity I flapped through the wornout pages, when my mouth started watering as my eyes caught sight of the recipe for nut bread. Now for theflashbackof the first nut bread.
    On my 2nd anniversary of bachelorhood days in Gangtok (Sikkim) in June 1985, I decided to buy a pressure cooker to indulge in self-cooking, now that I also had cooking gas connection (Indane).  South Indian food items were not available in the few hotels and what they offered as dosa/vada was unimaginable, indigestible and also unaffordable with a meager salary. A beggar would have earned more, I suppose. So I had to offer myself as a guinea pig to my own cooking experiments. The 5-Litre Hawkins Universal pressure cooker cost Rs.395. This is still in daily use even after 35 years! But for the change of gasket only once, it has been faithfully whistling without any trouble.
    During a rainy week end in Gangtok, I decided to experiment with a novel item – nut bread – to satisfy my sweet tooth. There was neither a good bakery in Gangtok in those days. Step by step, I sincerely followed the recipe as given in the cookery-cum-instruction booklet that came along with the pressure cooker.  The result was a fluffy brown cake with a nice aroma. Wow! I patted myself and started eating it. It was so tempting that by the next day I had completely eaten it, though I wanted to keep a portion of it for my friend Hariharan (SBI).He was expected to return from Kerala the next day but I had swallowed the ¼ kg cake all by myself. I do not know if he was happy or sad to have missed it, but he philosophically joked that it only proved the saying ‘You can’t eat your cake and have it too’. Exhausted from the journey, he asked if there was at least bread to eat. I royally joked back ‘If no bread, eat cake’.
    Now, let us cut back to the Corona time. As I was flipping through the pages of the cookery book, I noticed the tick mark on this recipe which meant I had tried this out at least once. So I wondered why not surprise my family members with a soft & sweet nut bread? Hoping that it would turn out successfully for the second time, I gingerly prepared it and, yes, it was a hit with my family members. Otherwise they would have called me a nut. This was also to satisfy my craving for cakes, as my wife does not allow bakery items for fear of Corona. When the bakeries reopened after a very long lockdown, pulled by the aroma I did buy a few cakes and lovingly presented them to my wife. But she offered them to the crows instead, fearing virus infection. Hope I have my share of blessings from the crows, the ‘vahan’ (mount) of Lord Saneeshwar who curses you with 7 ½ years of hardship during your life time, when life itself is a curse already.  She did not allow me even to have a lick of the icing on the cake.
    Here is that simple recipe for a tasty nut bread- Ingredients: 1 cup walnut (shelled)/badam, 1 ¼ cup sugar, 2 ½ cups maida flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 2 eggs, pinch of salt, 1 cup milk.  Preparation: Beat eggs and sugar till light. Add to it milk, flour, baking soda powder, and salt to make batter. Pour this into a flat-bottomed broad utensil that has been liberally coated with butter or ghee and place it in cooker without covering this. Pour 3 cups water into cooker body, close cooker and cook in maximum heat for 30 minutes without the vent weight. Open cooker, pour a cup of water into cooker body, close lid with vent weight. Bring to full cooking pressure, reduce to medium heat and keep so for 5 minutes. Open when pressure cooker has cooled down and WOW!  A spongy nut bread is all yours to please your Madam! Of course, most of the nut pieces would stay at the bottom of the cake, so you can add some raisins also.
Have some fun during Stay Home!But if the nut bread turns out to be rubbery, Stay at a Safe Distance! Oh, yes, you can offer it to the crows anyway.  If you succeed the credit goes to me and if you fail the blame squarely rests on you. With the experience gained I am planning to bake nut bread for the third time because the Lockdown does not seem to end that soon. Hope it will be a successful hat trick.
krishnanbala2004@yahoo.co.in / 9840917608 Whatsapp

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi