Have you watched the Jungle Book movie yet? I heard some mixed reviews, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. It brought back childhood memories of intently waiting every Sunday morning for The Jungle Book animated series on national television and singing “Jungle jungle baat chali hai…” (that was the title song written by Gulzar for the Hindi version of the TV show) along with thousands of other kids watching the same TV show in their homes. It was a time before Cartoon Network, with only a limited number of cartoons on Indian TV. Mowgli and his friends always made those Sunday mornings special.
This nostalgia might have subconsciously triggered the urge to make a chikoo based dessert. Chikoo, or sapodilla is a very common fruit in India and many other tropical countries. When perfectly ripe, this brown fruit is deliciously sweet and soft. Although the fresh version is hard to come by in my part of the world, the Indian grocery stores carry a frozen version of it. I wouldn’t want to eat the defrosted mushy fruit as it, but it works great in milkshakes, smoothies and ice cream… and apparently cake! I mashed up the defrosted chikoo slices and used it in cake batter as I would use mashed bananas or pureed berries. If using fresh fruit, make sure to pick ripe ones, peel and remove seeds, then mash or puree the fruit. The cardamom in this recipe gives it more of an Indian flavor, and if you didn’t know what chikoo tastes like you might think this is just a cardamom spice cake. It still tastes good though :). The texture turned out more muffin like, and that’s the route I’ll probably go with the next time I make it. I generally try to stay away from adding unnecessary sugar, but the cardamom glaze on this cake really helps the flavor, so I would highly recommend using it - maybe add an extra hour of workout to your week to balance it out! ;-)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¾ cup dark brown sugar
⅔ cup vegetable/canola/light olive oil
4-5 chickoo fruits peeled, deseeded and pureed or mashed with a fork (about ⅓-½ cup) - add a little water if required
½ tsp cardamom powder
A small pinch of salt
⅓ cup chopped walnuts/cashews (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare an 8” round baking pan by greasing the base and sides or lining with parchment paper.
Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom powder in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and oil until combined. Add sugar, chikoo puree and whisk to break down any lumps in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until everything is combined. This batter will be thick.
Pour the batter into prepared baking pan and smoothen out the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool down for 10-15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Let it cool further on a wire rack.
Once the cake is out of the oven, make the glaze by mixing just enough milk/water with powdered sugar to make a runny paste. Add a pinch or two of cardamom powder and mix well. Drizzle the glaze over warm cake, slice and serve with a hot cup of tea or coffee!
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