Serves 6 to 8
A characteristic sweet of southern India is carrot halvah, a rich, sweet reduction of carrots and spices that is almost fudgelike in consistency. This cake falls somewhere between this traditional treat and the popular American carrot cake. It has a dense texture and the unexpected flavor of cardamom, yet doesn’t require the tedious cooking and stirring of a halvah.
Special Indian dishes are often decorated with silver foil—a microscopically thin sheet of edible, flavorless real silver, available in Indian groceries. We have cut edible foil into decorative shapes—a tedious business that must be done in a completely draftless room—but more manageable solid toppings are customary.
Serve this nontraditional ending to your Indian meal with coffee that has been brewed with a few cardamom seeds.
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
• 1 cup unbleached white flour plus extra for dusting
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup softened clarified butter (ghee)
• 1 1/2 cups grated carrots, firmly packed
• 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
• 2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds
• 2 tablespoons raisins
• Edible silver foil (optional)
Rub a round cake pan that is 9 inches in diameter and 11/2 inches in height with the vegetable oil and then dust it very lightly with flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift 1 cup flour with the baking soda and salt.
Beat the eggs well in a large bowl. Add the cardamom, sugar, and clarified butter. Keep beating until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Add the sifted flour mixture to the ingredients in the large bowl and fold it in gently with a spatula. Add the carrots, pistachios, almonds, and raisins. Fold them in gently as well.
Turn the cake batter into the oiled and floured cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden red. Decorate top with edible silver foil.
— Madhur Jaffrey, originator of these recipes, was born in Delhi, India. At age 20, after graduating from Delhi University, she went to England to study drama. There, homesick for India and disappointed in the school’s bleak fare, she finally began learning Indian cooking from recipes that her mother sent from India. Since she arrived in New York in the early 1960s, she has been enlightening Americans on Indian cooking and culture through lectures, a television series, and several books.
Recipes copyright 1981 by Madhur Jaffrey. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
For more recipes from The Taste of India, click here.