Monday, 22 April 2019

Chai Malai Cake and Brick Lane Cookbook

I made this delicious Chai Malai Cake on one of those when I wished I could go back to bed and start all over.  

Its started off whilst making this cake.  Whilst bashing my cardamom I broke the mortar! How does that even happen (it was a cheap one), then I could not find my proper granite pestle and mortar gifted to me by my mother years ago.  No doubt stuck at the back of a kitchen cupboard!

Then I crack eggs for the whites, except a yolk falls in. I manage to scoop it out before it spreads. 

Sugar goes all over the floor.  I brush it up, don't want an army of ants in the kitchen (not that its ever happened to me in my new home).

The hand whisk throws up the self-raising flour into my face like dust...

Like I said, it was one of those days that I wished I could to go back to bed and start over again, but I persevered and this was the delicious and pretty result.
I don't eat much in the way of South Asian sweets and desserts, but the one that I do really like and indulge in when the opportunity arises is Ras Malai.   So I was completely sold when I saw Dina Begum's Chai Malai Cake.  It's a light masala spiced cake with a rasmalai inspired frosting with cardamom and rose.  I have something to admit though. I am not that partial to cardamom and regular readers will note its lack of absence in recipes on my blog.  The reason I have avoided this green pod with highly flavoured and scented seeds is rooted in my childhood.  My mother always made spiced chai at home, and when we had guests she would go mad and include extra cardamom.  Cardamom was also thrown in most recipes, sweet rice and even savoury rice.  I found cardamom overpowering for my palette and have avoided it with a vengeance in my adulthood.  I had momentarily considered omitting it from the Chai Malai Cake recipe, but upon gathering the ingredients, I decided to put my childhood prejudices aside and stick to the recipe.  I am glad I did.  The cardamom was delicate and nothing like the chai tea my mother used to make.    

The Chai Malai Cake was a triumph enhanced with rose petals. It was everything Dina promised it would be...Yum! 
The recipe, if you haven't guessed it comes from Dina Begum's Brick Lane Cookbook: Food From Everywhere. The cookbook also includes contributions from street food traders and restaurants including The Boiler House, Beigel Shop and Kahala a not for profit community café. The cookbook is a snapshot of the ethnically diverse cuisine found in  the East End of London. If you want to make the Chai Malai Cake you can also find the here

By the way, I have been to Brick Lane - see here - but it was mostly about the graffiti art. However, I look forward to going back again and checking out some of the culinary contributors to the cookbook.


  1. your cake is so beautiful...I love chai...
    ~have a lovely day!

  2. I would love to try your cake and to go to Brick Lane. I am a little shy of cardamom - I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that if you get the amount right it is great. Thanks for that reminder. And thanks for such a pretty photo of the cake. Sounds like you needed a nice slab of cake with a relaxing cup of tea after your baking experience. Hope you found your good mortar and pestle!

    1. I would have been happy to share it with you , it was wonderfully balanced in spices. April has been a low month for me, so the cake has cheered me up.

  3. It looks delicious but. I can't imagine the flavour. I need to go somewhere with a more diverse ethnicity, maybe a trip to Oxford is called for quite soon


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