Christmas Fruit Cake

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Merry Christmas

Christmas plays a special place in my heart. My mom was born on Christmas and so is my sister. And, 2 years ago my son was also born on Christmas eve – yes in our house we celebrate birthday of three generations on Christmas eve.
My earliest memories of Christmas was standing in line with my dad and sister at Nahoum and Sons in New Market for their awesome Christmas cakes. Winter in Kolkata is not a freezing, but pleasant. The city gets decked up in Christmas lights, and Park street is a sight to see.


You cannot talk about Christmas without mentioning the fruit filled cakes. The dark rich cake with fruity goodness is the best part of the season. Many start preparing for the cake almost 10 weeks before Christmas, soaking the dried fruit in rum in air tight jars and then bake the cake with those tutti frutties. The rum enhances the flavor of the cake, but with a toddler at your toe, it’s a no no to add any kind of alcohol in your food. So, I changed this Christmas fruit cake recipe from AllRecipes to suit my needs. If you don’t have an oven then you can bake the cake in pressure cooker.

Christmas Fruit Cake
Yields 2
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. ½ cup all-purpose flour, + 1 tablespoon
  2. 1 cup tutti frutti
  3. ¼ cup raisin
  4. ¼ cup pecans
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  9. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  10. ¼ teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ cup molasses
  12. ¼ cup brown sugar
  13. ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  14. 2 tablespoon milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F/160C
  2. Cream the butter and the brown sugar till its fluffy. Add the egg and beat for a little longer to incorporate
  3. In a separate bowl mix in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Now add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in two matches mixing in the molasses and milk in between. Pour in the vanilla essence and mix well
  4. In a bowl add the tutti frutti, pecans and raisins and mix in the tablespoon of flour. Add the dry fruits to the cake mix.
  5. Spread the mix in a 6” circular pan or two 6” loaf pans. Put in the oven and bake for 40-45mins or till a knife comes out clean when poked in the middle
  1. You can substitute tutti frutti with dried fruits like sultana, cranberries, dried pineapple, cherries or mango.
  2. If using rum, then soak the dried fruit in 1/4 cup of rum for atleast 24 hours or upto 10 weeks in an air tight container. Once the cake is baked, soak a cheesecloth with another 1/4 cup of rum and wrap it around the cake(s), then wrap it with a parchment paper and let it age in an air tight container
Cook like a Bong


Chocolate Brownie Cupcake with Vanilla Icecream and Chocolate sauce

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Have you ever had that feeling of having something right that very moment? At times I get these freaky cravings of having something sweet.

It was almost midnight when I had one such seizure a couple of day’s back, this time it was for something chocolate. Here in Bangalore stepping out of the house to search for some open shop/ restaurant after 11.30pm is like searching for the blue moon. But, I had to have something with chocolate. There were no chocolate bars at home, so I took upon the task to prepare some chocolate brownies. After an entire day of work, it’s really a little tiresome to bake chocolate brownies, but nevertheless I tried to bake the easiest chocolate brownie that comes to mind.

30mins of working in the kitchen and I had a batch of a dozen chocolate brownie ready. I had tried preparing chocolate cakes in microwave previously, but they didn’t come out so spongy. This time, I didn’t take the chance and baked it in the oven.

I was a bit anxious as the brownies were eggless, but I using two bananas really helped. The inside was soft and layered, and yes of course my little brownie cupcakes really quenched my thirst of chocolate that night.

Preparation time: 10mins
Baking time: 10min for a batch of 6 brownie cupcakes
Makes 12 brownie cupcakes


  • 1 cup all purpose flour/ maida
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup drinking chocolate
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 small bananas
  • 400ml milk
  • 100gms unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A handful of walnuts/ pecans


  • In a bowl mix the dry ingredients together the dry ingredients and keep aside
  • In another bigger size bowl mash the bananas finely, pour in half the milk, and butter; whisk till it froths
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the milk and fold in. Pour in more milk as and when required
  • The batter should be little thick, but not very dry. Add the walnuts/ pecan to the batter
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Pour the batter in equal proportions to the cupcake tray
  • Bake for about 10mins, or till a skewer inserted comes out clean
  • Let it cool for a couple of minutes before you gorge on those

Hot Tips – I used cupcake tray to bake the brownies, if you wish you can pour the patter in a baking tray and cut according to your wish once it’s done.

The chocolate brownies tasted best next day, when I had it with some ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

These sinful choco brownies goes to “Only Baked” event by Harini and also to Kid’s Delight – Mini Bites hosted by Champa.

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Almond Yogurt Cupcakes with a Mango Surprise Centre

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Sohini, the new lady in the B(log)-town and the proud owner of the catering company Cassia Bark Ltd. in Cambridge, U.K. She is our guest blogger today. Sohini had prepared these wonderful cup-cakes for Father’s Day and we just thought of sharing this yummy recipe with you all.

Makes 12-14 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

  • Natural Yogurt – 150 ml
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 140g plain or self-rising flour
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Mango Jam – ½  teaspoon for each cupcake (you can replace it with any other jam of your choice)

For the Icing:

I used Betty Crocker readymade Vanilla Butter Cream Icing.


For the Cupcakes:

  • Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
  • In a jug, mix the yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract. Put the dry ingredients, plus a pinch of salt and mix well.
  • Add the yogurt mix and melted butter, and quickly fold in with a spatula or metal spoon – you don’t have to whisk just fold everything nicely together until mixed well. Spoon and fill 2/3 of the cases. Add ½ a teaspoon of Mango Jam in each one in the center and fill the rest of the case with the cake batter again.  Bake for 18-20 mins or until golden, risen and springy to the touch. Insert a skewer. The cakes are done if it comes out clean.
  • Cool for a few mins, and then lift the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Now scoop the icing into a piping bag and use your favorite nozzle to decorate. Or you can just spoon a little bit of icing on each cake and spread it out evenly with the spoon. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips. You can also decorate with some cupcake toppers.

Hot Tips – Sohini had used the readymade icing, you can also prepare your own, just follow these simple steps:


  • 140g butter, softened
  • 280g Icing Sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract


  • Beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand held electric whisk until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth.
  • Beat in the milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture. Stir in the food coloring until well combined. Add a few drops of the food color of your choice. I used Blue as I made these for Father’s Day.

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Tutti Frutti Cake for Tagore’s Birthday

Bengal is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of the great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore. He was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize, and also the author of 28 voluminous books, more than 2500 songs (that are recited by fishermen and intellectuals alike), a polymath, and he also penned National Anthem of 2 countries, India and Bangladesh. Rabindranath lives in the heart of every Bengali. Celebrations in Bengal have started from the weekend to commemorate this great man on his birthday, 25th Baisakh (25th day of the first month of the Bengali calendar). Jorasako Thakur bari, the birth place of Gurudev is decked up with flowers and there are programs organized throughout the day. Have a glimse of it in the video below.

Celebrating tagore 150th Birth Anniversary

We are also here to celebrate another joy; Cook Like a Bong Facebook Page has just crossed 4000 likes making it one of the largest Bengali community in Facebook. Thanks to all our readers for making our effort such a huge success. We would love to hear more feedbacks and comments from you.

Here’s to our celebration, a simple tea time cake.


·         2 ½ cups of self raising flour

·         2 cup castor sugar

·         3 eggs

·         2 teaspoon baking powder

·         ½ cup clarified butter/ vegetable oil

·         1 cup tutti fruitti, raisins

·         2 teaspoon vanilla essence


·         Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F or gas mark 4).

·         Sift the self raising flour and the baking powder together

·         Break the eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater, at medium speed at first and then at high speed for 3-4mins

·         Pour in the clarified butter and sugar together in a bowl and beat with an electric beater till it becomes light and fluffy

·         Mix the eggs and sugar mixture together and beat again for a couple of minutes

·         Add the flour gradually to the beaten mixture, and fold in

·         Sprinkle about two teaspoon of flour in the tutti frutti and coat them. Add these to the cake batter, keep aside about ¼ cup of tutti frutti

·         Grease a rectangular oven safe pan with butter or oil and pour in the cake mixture

·         Put in the left tutti frutti over the cake batter

·         Bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 mins or till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean

·         Keep aside for 30mins to cool on a wire rack

·         Serve with tea or coffee

Hot Tips – If you are using maida instead of self raising flour, then beat the cake batter just before putting in the tutti frutti at least for 4-5mins, else the cake will not become spongy

Meringue Filled Tartlets for Christmas

Just a couple of days back a friend from school wrote on her Facebook update “My epitaph should read – here lies the drummer boy who grew up to be a lady!” Perhaps half the school remembers M as the drummer boy from the Christmas Carol competitions held every year in school during December. Christmas brings back loads of old memories, especially those days in school. Brought up in a Missionary school (read Carmel Convent) , Christmas meant a lot – Christmas carols, decorating the school with fake snow (Kolkata temperature never gone below 8°C), preparing the model manger and of course getting a share of the Christmas cake on 25th morning.

Clicked by Kalyan - St. Patrick's Church, Bangalore

School’s over and so is the innocent madness. These days Christmas has become synonymous to a partying late night on Christmas eve and perhaps a visit to the church mostly to see the Winter Fashion of the year (chuckles…). But, this time just thought of doing something a little different – planning to have a gala dinner on the 25th night. What’s your plan for the day?

Decided on the dessert for the night – tartlets with meringue filling decorated with red cherries and sprigs of mint just to retain the colors of Christmas – white, red and green. I have used marzipan to make the crust along with maida, but you can omit the almond powder and use only all purpose flour.


For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond powder
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ghee/butter
  • Water as required

For the filling:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3-4 tablespoon castor sugar
  • Cherries to decorate


For the crust:

  • Add all the dry ingredients together and pour in the butter/ghee
  • Mix these ingredients to make a bread crumb like texture
  • Pour cold water and knead with your hand to make a not-very-moist dough
  • Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Roll out the dough and line 6 small flan tins. Press the dough into the corners and trim off the excess dough with a sharp knife. Alternatively you can use a single 8” flan tin
  • Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 10-12 min or till the crust turns golden brown
  • Take out and set to cool

For the filling:

  • Beat the egg whites till they form soft peaks
  • Add the castor sugar, vanilla essence and continue beating

Put Together:

  • Pour the filling over the tart crust and bake in a preheated oven at 150°C for 5-6 min on the upper rack till the peaks turn a little brown
  • Serve hot or cold decorated with cherries

Hot Tips – You can create your own filling. Use thick custard or soft cream and seasonal fruits like strawberries, pineapple, raspberries, etc to decorate your tart. Do let us know about your favourite tart fillings.

Further Reading – Irish cream and Strawberry Tartlet, Toblerone tart.

Cooking with Seeds – Poppy: Event Round-up Addendum

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In addition to the entries listed for the Cooking with Seeds – Poppy event, here’s some more.

Biscuits with dates from Jayasri of Samayal Arai

Aloo Posto (Potatoes in Poppy Seeds Paste) from Arundhati of  My Saffron Kitchen

White Vegetable Korma from Denny of  Oh Taste n See

And, last but not the least an entry from a non-blogger friend, Subit Datta. I am writing the recipe for Papaya with Poppy Seeds here.

1. Grate a small papaya.

2. Make two tablespoon poppy seeds into paste with 1/2 green chillies.

3. Heat  one and a half tablespoon vegetable oil in a non-stick pan.

4. Put in 1/2 teaspoon onion seeds (kalojeerey).

5. Add grated papaya. Add salt. Cover and cook.

6. Add poppy seed paste. Keep stirring till dry.

7. Garnish with green chillies.

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Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin – woo the opposite sex

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This post describes how to cook an exotic dish, Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin, in easy steps. A perfect recipe to woo the opposite sex. But before the recipe, I’ll talk about why an amateur cook like me even dared such an elaborate preparation. Skip ahead 3 paras if you’re just interested in the recipe.

Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin

Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin

Newbie trying Exotic dish, and succeeding

Having a domestic help, for almost everything that is non-core to your life, is an amazing experience. Wake up in the morning, and ask – Bhaiya, chai pilao. Aur haan, do ande ubaal do aur ek glass dudh bournvita. [Get me some tea please. And yes, boil two eggs and a glass of milk bournvita]. Ask him/her to prepare Rajma chawal for lunch and kadhi, roti and Gakar ka Halwa for dinner. Heavenly!

My all rounder domestic help left for home (for Holi) 3 weeks ago. Life has never been this dude-you-have-to-cook. So, started with. No, its not Maggi or Chana Daal or Fried Rice. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts. Its Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin. An expert level dish prepared by a nube. Not exactly inspiring. But surprise! It turned out well.

So, have no fear. If I could do it, I’m pretty sure anyone else can too. I’ve also tried Egg Maggi Noodles and Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs with reasonable success. Amateurs, you can try these too.

Recipe in 10 words

Bake ingredients, crust to form a golden crust at top.

Gratin Ingredients

Gratin Ingredients

About Gratin

Hint: Grate means to scrape.

Gratin is a food preparation technique where you put a layer (of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and butter) above an ingredient mixture (of vegetables e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, potato, tomato, carrot etc), bake it till a golden crust forms at the top. You can try a meat based ingredient mix too.

Read on for how to prepare a vegetable based Gratin in easy steps.

Ingredients of Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin

  • Vegetables – I used Cauliflower, Broccoli, Potato, Tomato, Carrot
  • Cooking Oil (sunflower, Mustard, Olive whatever suits you)
  • Cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan whatever)
  • Milk
  • Maida
  • Bread crumbs
  • Onion
  • Pepper (optional)

Preparation steps

  1. Prepare the ingredients
  2. Prepare cheese sauce
  3. Pour over the ingredients alternating layers of cheese sauce and bread crumbs
  4. Bake it
Preparation for Gratin

Preparation for Gratin

Prepare the Ingredients

  • Separate small florets of cauliflower and wash it
  • Ditto for Broccoli
  • Cauliflower takes longer time to boil than Broccoli. So, first boil the cauliflower florets in water, and add some salt.
  • After 5 minutes, add Broccoli florets. Let them boil for another 7/8 min
  • Drain water and keep aside
  • Cut the other vegetables – tomato, carrot etc (you may grate the carrots if you want)

Prepare cheese sauce

  • Cut the onions into small pieces (doesn’t really matter whether you have arcs or random small pieces)
  • In a bowl, add 2 spoons of Maida
  • Add small quantity of milk and stir. Keep adding milk (total 1 cup) and stirring meanwhile.
  • Grate the cheese
  • Heat some cooking oil in a pan. Add the cut onions
  • Pour the milk maida mixture and add grated cheese
  • Heat and stir the mixture. Stop when it thickens. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oven at high temperature (I did it at 200 degrees C for 10 min)
Buttered Tray

Buttered Tray

Before being Oven-ed

Before being Oven-ed
Preparing before baking

Preparing before baking

Pour over the ingredients alternating layers to cheese sauce and bread crumbs

  • Apply butter on the oven tray
  • Spread the ingredients (vegetables) uniformly over the buttered tray
  • Pour a layer of cheese sauce
  • Add a layer of bread crumbs
  • Repeat the above two steps
  • Grate some cheese atop the mix

Bake it Baby

  • Open the oven door and insert the tray (be careful, the oven is too hot!)
  • Bake it for 20 min at 200 degrees C
Gratin is ready

Gratin is ready

Tada. Your exotic Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin is ready. Devour it with ketchup and Oregano (as a friend says, Everything tastes good with Oregano).

I used it as a Birthday base instead of a Cake. 🙂

Acknowledgements: Sudeshna (help over phone) and google (laptop was open with several links open in the browser while I prepared this dish)

Further Reading: Cook to Bang

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