My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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7 July 2015

If eM can bake, you can bake too! (plus all the recipes I love) PART ONE

Baking is an exact science.

I mean, I read somewhere that cooking is an art and baking is science, and I guess that makes sense, because while I'm not one of life's feeders, I get excited only briefly by fresh ingredients and rarely use them all, leaving several vegetables to shrivel at the bottom of my veggie drawer, there's something about baking that appeals to me.

I loved my chemistry set when I was young. Is that still a popular present? It should be. My chemistry set was magic, I could make pink paper blue and make things fizz up and create invisible ink. Baking is a bit like that--it's all "add baking powder to make this rise" and "brown sugar makes your cookies crunchy while powdered white sugar makes it dense and cake-like." Your ingredients react with each other a lot, in the same way a science experiment does. There's only one pot or pan into which you pour everything and let the oven make its magic. It's amazing.

My mum had bought me a Bajaj OTG, a pretty small one, but still functional, back when I still lived in Bandra. I used it, but not a lot. I wasn't great at lining stuff up so they cooked perfectly, and the oven was always somewhat tempramental, so I wound up with stuff undercooked in the middle or too burnt around the edges. I didn't pursue it a lot.

It was only about two years ago, when I first moved into this house, the one I live in now, that I blew the dust off it and decided to get started in earnest. I had a chocolate chip cookie craving, and I had a free afternoon, so I ran down to the shop, got all my ingredients and made a batch. I kept one eye on the oven so that my cookies wouldn't overcook, and when they turned out WELL, not just ok, I put three or four in some aluminium foil and carried it to a party I was going to later, as a little host present. To my surprise and delight, I wasn't the only one who thought they were good (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, tastiness is on the tongue of the baker), and my cookies were a great success. "Do more!" people said, and I did, I whipped up cookie after cookie: Sriracha and peanut butter acquired legendary status and at home, the Good Thing and I grew addicted to oatmeal and apple.

I had no measuring cups (still don't), so the ingredients are somewhat eyeballed.

Also, this is all The Old Oven, which means you can do this with slightly faulty equipment. I was going to put my new cool oven and all the stuff I've made in THAT, but this was turning out to be a monster post, so that's for next time

Sriracha and Peanut Butter Cookies (Adapted with Indian ingredients)
I should really try these again

  • Two sticks of Amul Butter
  • 1½ cups Crunchy Peanut Butter (or Sunbutter if allergic to peanuts) (I used Fun & Food's version, they have two: crunchy and smooth.)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
  • ¼ c Sriracha (available at INA market)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2¾ to 3 cups All-Purpose Flour (finished dough should be soft, but not sticky)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • Granulated sugar for dipping dough balls into.
  1. Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars.
  2. Slowly add in sriracha, eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  3. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Gently mix flour into peanut butter mixture until well combined. Place batter into refrigerator for 1 hour to chill.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll dough into approx 1" sized balls or use a Medium sized cookie scoop/Size 40 - 1½tbs portion. Dip the top of dough ball into granulated sugar and place onto cookie sheet.
  7. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 8-10 minutes or just until the cookies begin to brown. Do NOT over-bake!
  8. Cool on wire racks and enjoy!
    Oatmeal and Apple Cookies with Cinammon
    Breakfast of SUGAR HIGH champions

From Betty Crocker
3 sticks butter or margarine, softened
cup granulated sugar
cup packed brown sugar
teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4
cups maida
teaspoon baking soda (I just pretty much always use baking powder, it's easier to find)
1 1/2
teaspoons ground cinnamon
teaspoon salt
cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats (I like Baggry's for this)
medium apple, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup shredded) (Um, no need to shred, just chop fine)

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.  (PRO TIP: for cookies, I use foil over the cookie sheet, which has the advantage of keeping the bottom both crisp AND soft, instead of overdone. No need to grease it, just peel cookies off.) 
  • In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in vanilla and eggs, scraping sides occasionally, until blended.
  • In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually beat flour mixture into sugar mixture. Stir in oats and apple. Onto cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.
  • Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  • I didn't make cakes much. I mean, I tried, but they never turned out all that well.  I made a carrot cake which was nice-ish, but still tasted too wet (I shoulda squeezed the juice out before baking it) and a banana cake which I took to several pot lucks and always came home to an empty box. (Also what we used to stimulate Bruno's appetite when he got sick.) 
  • Also I made cinammon rolls which need to RISE with YEAST, so you feel like a super baker, but then you freeze a whole bunch and just bake whenever you need them with coffee, which = LIFE OF LUXURY. It takes so little to feel posh. 
  • Bruno's Lifesaving Banana Cake
  • Can't find the original recipe, but here's something very similar. It's SUPER low fat, except the sugar, so eat guilt free!
    1 cup (240 ml) mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup (120 ml) low-fat plain yogurt or any dahi you have in the house
    1/4 cup (60 ml) canola, vegetable, or corn oil (I used Sunflower with no change in results. You could also use olive oil if you want that extra flavour)
    3/4cup (165 grams) light brownsugar
    1 large egg or 2 large (60 grams) egg whites (screw the egg whites, just use the whole egg, unless you have cats who will eat the yolk for you.)
    1 teaspoon purevanillaextract
    1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup (65 grams) whole wheat flour
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Spray an 8 x 4 inch (20 x 10 cm) loaf pan with a nonstick vegetable cooking spray.
    In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the baking soda and yogurt. Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the batter.
    Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg or egg whites, and vanilla.
    In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt.
    Then combine the banana mixture with the oil mixture and then add to the flour mixture. Stir just until all the ingredients are moistened. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 45 -55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
    Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
    Makes one loaf (about 12 slices). You can also make this in a cake pan for larger parties and cut it up smaller. I've done both.

  • Super Cinammon Rolls That You Can Totally Stick In The Freezer and Pull Out Later To Look Like Martha Stewart
  • From Paula Deen
  • 1/4 -ounce package yeast (You can buy powdered yeast in India now. It's super cheap and lasts a long time.)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
    1/2 cup scalded milk (Please. Regular milk will also do.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
    3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
    3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans, optional (Eh. I couldn't be bothered.)
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a 
  • large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 
  • cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in 
  • remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on
  •  lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in 
  • well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size,
  •  usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured 
  • surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all
  •  over dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered
  •  dough. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired.
  •  Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge 
  • together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

    Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  •  Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let 
  • rise 
  • until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 
  • minutes or until nicely browned.




  1. Can i bake in my m8crowave using the convection? Doesnt seem to come out fluffy. Cakes i mean. Have you tried one bowl cakes which dont warrant separate mixing of wet and dry ingredients?

  2. Hey Anon, I've only ever had an OTG and a microwave (not in one unit, but separate) but if you want to bake properly, the microwave ones usually don't do. In the follow up to this post, I'm going to talk about one-bowl cakes, but most of these you can just put in one bowl and combine and fluff up, except for the fresh fruit, which you should add separately. Make sure your flour and baking powder is well mixed though, otherwise it gets lumpy.

  3. This is in response to the comment by anon. When you put your oven in convection mode, it becomes similar to an OTG. you will need to preheat as required by the recipe, use the stand to create a middle rack and place your baking pan on top of it. Bake for the same amount of time, use the toothpick test to check for doneness, put it back for a couple of minutes till done. just my two bits

  4. I don't think baking soda and baking powder are the same thing, are they?

  5. No Sachinky . they are not but both are rising/leaving agent. Usually what I do is when you have chocolate , yogurt etc in your recipe you add baking soda. For regular white cakes you add baking powder.


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