Teens are strange animals. Ani has stayed away from bananas for the last couple of years, but his favourite muffin is still the Banana Nut. So, while I coax and cajole him to pay more attention to his studies, I also bribe him with his favourite eats and snacks.
This morning we had them muffins for breakfast. This is unusual, since sugar at breakfast is very rare, perhaps all over the country. Doodh-jalebi (hot milk and jalebis) being one such breakfast, popular in parts of UP, that comes to mind.
On the other hand, sugar is big at breakfast-time (and other times) in the West. All the donuts, muffins, and cookies, not to mention the ‘sugar bombs’ that Calvin (of the Calvin and Hobbes fame) starts off his day with. Americans consume a mind-boggling 170lbs per capita! Impresssive for a people who were introduced to sugar only in the 15th C! Sugar cane, the only source of Indian sugar, was growing here as far back as 325 BC. Today India is the second largest producer of sugar, after Brazil, but thankfully, despite the long tradition, our per capita consumption is amongst the lowest at 14kg (30lbs approx.). In my own house it is half of that! Part of that may be because I am from Kashmir which does not have much of a tradition of things sweet (compared to just about any other state of the country!).
Of course, white sugar is not the only form of sugar consumed in the country. More than a third of the sugar cane produce is diverted towards the making of gur (jaggery) and other less refined sugars which are an integral part of many regional cuisines. The Bengalis also use the sap from the date palm to derive the delicious, subtly flavoured, patali gur (palm sugar).
How did I get to rambling on sugar…? Well, anytime that I use a western (especially American) recipe, I reduce the amount of sugar by 20-25%. I still get my end product to be of the correct sweetness which leads me to think that Indian sugar, perhaps, is sweeter (and my MIL always felt she needed to add more sugar for the same result when cooking at my BIL’s place in Miami). Could it be because we use cane sugar while most American sugar is derived from sugar beets?
I did the same with this generic recipe from Great American Home Baking recipe sheets that appear in mail boxes across the US (if you have subscribed to a cooking magaine). Reduced the sugar by 25%, and as always, used half atta and half maida, instead of the all purpose flour!
Banana Nut Muffins
1/2 C butter, softened
3/4th C granulated sugar (if using non-Indian sugar – increase by 1/3rd)
2 medium eggs
2 large over-ripe bananas, mashed
1C refined flour
1C whole wheat flour (atta)
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 C buttermilk (I used 1/2 C dahi mixed with 1/2 C water)
1/2 C chopped almonds
(pecans or walnuts are a better choice but I am hoarding mine for something else – later)
1 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400 F (gasmark 7). Prepare muffin pan – I used paper cups. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Add the mashed bananas and mix. Sift together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Fold in the flour mix and the buttermilk alternately. Mix only till the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Spoons into prepared pan, filling up to 2/3rds full. Bake for 18 min. Serve warm. Makes 12 regular sized muffins.
The muffins turned out soft and moist. None the worse for the part-substitution with whole wheat flour! Aniruddh couldn’t even tell! Break bits off the moist muffins – got milk? Bliss.