When unusual taste and cultural mixtures current themselves, I can’t resist. That’s why I’ve made this intriguing date tamarind loaf cake recipe from Nik Sharma’s debut cookbook, Season, twice prior to now couple of weeks. A Bombay native, Sharma got here to America in in his early twenties about fifteen years in the past and found a penchant for meals, images, and writing. His persistence and skills yielded Season, which was launched to large acclaim.
Sharma has a knack for combining seemingly disparate concepts so I questioned how a recipe like his date tamarind loaf cake would work. I included his guide in an article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle concerning the current wave of fascinating immigrant-focused cookbooks.
I’m biased as a result of tamarind date chutney is one among my all-time favourite Indian condiments. About ten years in the past, once I wanted a recipe for the Asian Dumplings cookbook (samosas want their correct buddies), I started making my very own. When made out of scratch, tamarind date chutney is tangy, scorching, and pungent. It’s additionally thick and virtually lickable off a spoon. It’s nothing just like the watery inky bland stuff at Indian buffets.
As a result of the chutney appeals to me a lot, Sharma’s idea of placing its flavors in an olive oil-based cake captured my consideration. Coincidentally, I even had a fez-like chunk of jaggery (aka gur, an unrefined cane sugar that’s akin to Southeast Asian palm sugar, Mexican piloncillo and South American Panela) and a few tamarind pulp in my cabinet. I made the cake, taking time to shave the sugar into pillowy items with my meat cleaver. It was a good way to get out some aggression. Prepping the sugar occurred whereas the tamarind soaked and softened.
Date Tamarind Loaf Cake 1.zero
I weighed, counted and measured components to match the recipe, however the ensuing date tamarind loaf cake didn’t permit the date tamarind flavors to shine. I used to be anticipating my favourite chutney in a strong cake type. Maybe the additional virgin olive oil muted the tangy dance between the tamarind, date, and jaggery an excessive amount of? The oil’s massive taste appeared to dominate.
Sharma had floor ginger and black pepper within the batter, one other level of attraction to me, and I needed extra of their spicy warmth, too. After I attempted a slice of the cake, I drizzled the icing on prime, as instructed. It was a pleasant contact, however as Sharma signifies within the recipe introduction, you’ll be able to choose to eat it with out icing, perhaps with powdered sugar or his kefir creme fraiche. Plus, the walnut crown on prime is just too good-looking to cowl up.
When a recipe works out in line with the recipe however doesn’t work out in response to my full satisfaction, I make it once more. That’s a recipe that has promise and may train me one thing about how flavors and my palate work. As a recipe developer and cookbook writer, what I hope for is to get somebody to attempt a recipe after which inform and encourage them sufficient so they may confidently tweak it to their liking. I anticipate my recipes to turn out to be yours.
Date Tamarind Loaf Cake 2.zero
So I attempted the recipe once more, however modified issues a bit to amp up the flavors I favored. On the second attempt, I swapped impartial tasting canola for the extra-virgin olive oil. I didn’t have sufficient jaggery left so I used natural brown sugar, which has a stunning spherical sweetness. Sharma’s jaggery substitute is muscovado sugar nevertheless it’s fairly expensive stuff and never straightforward to seek out. I’ve swapped brown sugar for jaggery earlier than so I knew it might be advantageous on a 1:1 weight measurement substitute.
I elevated the quantity of tamarind and lowered the amount of dates; the Medjools I received for the primary spherical have been ginormous and I feel they could have been why the cake was denser than I appreciated. With this second trial, I famous the load quantity of pitted dates so I’d have a dependable measure going ahead.
The black pepper and floor ginger have been each boosted by 50 %, then I chopped a knob of recent ginger and added it to the blender with the sugar and liquid components for spicy smoothie of types. Tasting the batter earlier than baking, I took a daring transfer and added cumin, which is in my tamarind date chutney recipe. Why not? Sharma’s ethos is to boldly combine issues up a bit.
The cumin imparted a citrusy pungent edge to the tangy, spicy batter. It was my chutney cake imaginative and prescient in liquid type. Omit the cumin if it sounds too unusual for you.
Walnuts are good mind meals and provided that I’d decreased the quantity of dates, I made up the distinction with additional walnuts (bonus: crunchy texture!).
The end result? Wowza good. My tamarind date chutney in cake type fantasy got here true! No icing or additional decor wanted to make it soar. We’ve been chopping off slices to eat after dinner for dessert. Thanks Nik for the inspiration. Now it’s your flip to make the recipe your personal.
Tamarind Shopping for and Prepping Fundamentals
Regardless of the chatter about tamarind, tamarind is sadly not but out there at most mainstream supermarkets. There’s a product at Entire Meals bought in a mylar package deal (examine within the Asian part) labeled as tamarind paste however its taste is just not fabulous; that stated, for those who’re actually in a pinch, use it as an alternative to step 1. Tamarind focus in little plastic jars gained’t work properly right here.
Ideally, head to a Chinese language, Southeast Asian, South Asian or Center Japanese market. Search for slab-like packages like these; they’re often by the flour and spices at Chinese language and Viet markets.
Choose seedless tamarind so you’ve gotten higher yield. In Vietnamese, meaning looking for “Me Vat Khong Scorching” on the packaging. Retailer unopened in a cool, dry place. I’ve stored a package deal for a few years and due to the double packaging, it was simply advantageous. It was firmer than the brisker ones above, and darker too, however labored in my dishes.
For many cooking functions like this cake, don’t purchase the tamarind pods bought in bins labeled “Candy Tamarind”. These are mature pods which are nice to snack on however lack the tang of their youthful selves. Select bitter tamarind pods and shell them. I’d wager that you simply want about eight ounces of freshly shelled bitter tamarind pods for three to four ounces of the packaged pulp.
There are a number of methods to hydrate tamarind pulp however generally, you soak it in scorching water. As an alternative of soaking one massive chunk, I break the tamarind into smaller chunks. Issues go quicker that method. Tamarind soaks up extra water than you assume and I discovered that I needed to improve the water required from the recipe’s unique quantity; that’s already mirrored within the recipe under.
Each time you’re brief on the yield for tamarind liquid, add a splash of water or a number of the tamarind liquid that you simply’ve already obtained to the pulp, mess it round to mix, and push it by means of the strainer once more. You must eke out just a little extra. If you find yourself with an excessive amount of, boil it for a couple of minutes to scale back to the amount that’s wanted.
Date Tamarind Loaf Cake
Yield eight servings
I’ve tailored this recipe from its unique model in Nik Sharma’s Season in an effort to flexibly tweak it. These types of desserts are virtually bulletproof. If tasting uncooked batter is okay with you, attempt it earlier than earlier than baking to ensure flavors are to your liking. I like a impartial oil for this cake. Should you like olive oil, contemplate a light-weight olive oil as an alternative of extra-virgin. Or, attempt the extra-virgin! Palm sugar, piloncillo or panela might stand in for the sugar choices under; simply weigh with a scale.
- three 1/four to four ounces bitter tamarind pulp (use the utmost for a shiny tang)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons just-boiled water
- 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
- 2 to three teaspoons floor ginger (use most for zing)
- 1/2 to three/four teaspoon just lately floor black pepper (use most for oomph)
- 1/four to half teaspoon cumin (non-compulsory)
- 1 half teaspoons baking powder
- half teaspoon baking soda
- 1/four teaspoon positive sea salt
- 6 to eight ounces chopped, pitted Medjool dates (12 to 16 dates)
- 1/2 to 2/three cup chopped walnuts, plus 5 or 6 walnut halves
- 1 ounce coarsely chopped peeled ginger (about three tablespoons; optionally available)
- three/four cup (5.25 oz) packed jaggery, muscovado sugar, or natural brown sugar
- three/four cup impartial oil (similar to canola) or extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as wanted
- 2 giant eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (four.25 oz) confectioner’s sugar (for icing; elective)
- Break the tamarind into three or four chunks and add the recent water. Cowl tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and let soften and funky for 1 hour. Uncover, then therapeutic massage and squeeze out the pulp to launch from any solids, then press and rub the combination by way of a mesh strainer set over a measuring cup or bowl. Scrape the underside to get all of the thick liquid. It is best to internet a superb 1 cup (see the repair in the primary submit in the event you’re shy). Put aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an eight 1/2 by four 1/2-inch loaf pan with oil and line the underside with parchment paper.
- In a big bowl, whisk collectively the flour, ginger, pepper, cumin, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Measure out 2 tablespoons right into a bowl and add the dates and walnuts. Toss together with your hand to separate sticky date items and coat issues nicely. Put aside.
- In a blender, mix the chopped ginger and sugar. Mix to cut up the ginger finely. Add 1 cup of the tamarind liquid; reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons for the icing or one other use, reminiscent of making a fast tamarindo soda with easy syrup and bubbly water. Mix the combination on excessive to mix nicely. Add the oil and pulse on excessive velocity to mix properly and emulsify. Add the eggs, one by one, and pulse for three or four seconds to include nicely.
- Make a nicely within the middle of the flour combination, then pour within the tamarind and oil combination. Whisk or stir with a spatula till flour is not seen. For those who like, let the batter sit for a couple of minutes to develop taste, then style it and tweak if crucial with additional floor spices. When glad, stir within the dates and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the ready pan. Shimmy the pan to degree out the highest, then organize the walnuts down the middle. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway, till agency to the contact on the middle and a skewer comes out clear. Close to the top, if is just too brown and requiring an extended bake, cowl the highest loosely with foil, decrease the warmth to 325F and bake for about 15 minutes longer.
- Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, run a knife across the edge and unmold. Let cool utterly, good-looking aspect up, on the rack.
- For the icing, whisk collectively 1 teaspoon oil with 2 tablespoons tamarind. Sift within the confectioner’s sugar and whisk till utterly clean. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and let sit for 1 hour to set earlier than serving. Retailer the cake in an hermetic container at cool room temperature or refrigerate as much as 4 days. Slice and eat at room temperature.
Tailored from Nik Sharma’s Season (Chronicle Books, 2018)
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