Thank you all, for making time in your busy and (sometimes) maddening lives to indulge me once again this year. Many of you out there (even the silent ones who show up only in the stats!) have become like friends over the last few years, and what better way to celebrate with all of you than by having a virtual tea party! This annual Party happens around India’s Independence Day, and this year, aptly, it is also about our Rights and the Responsibilities that come with them.
There can be no Tea Party without cake and we had plenty of those in all shapes and sizes and flavours! There were spicy puff pastries, savoury and sweet scones, hot chillies and bhel, cooling ice cream cakes, all accompanied by pots and pots of hot teas, and cold coffee!
1. Miri brought us cakes. First, a gorgeous and exclusive chocolate cake! As if that wasn’t enough, we decided to have a real tea party at her place with another gorgeous citrus spicy cake (with filter coffee and khari biscuits). I am no longer surprised at how much else I have in common with the food-bloggers I have met in real life!
2. Sayantani brought coffee flavoured buttermilk cake.
3. There were Savoury Scones from Sangeeta.
4. Another cake, this time a coconut pound cake from notyet100.
5. Sra made a frozen dessert with a crispy biscuit base and chocolate sauce decoration.
6. Jayshree brought spicy chilli rellenos.
7. Soma’s summery fruit cake added to the selection of cakes at the tea table.
8. Radhika enjoyed a cup of tea with yummy egg puffs and chiwda with her husband.
9. Madhuli had a festive tea party at her place with pretty china, a gorgeously laid table loaded with goodies!
10. Sandeepa, shared her bright raspberry cup cakes with invigorating cups of tea! She drank quite a few cups and all by herself!
11. Desi Soccer Mom kept us guessing about what she was going to serve with tea!
12. This was followed by Aparna’s moist mango cardamom crumb cake.
13. Nupur’s cold-brewed cold coffee was perfect to wash everything down with.
14. The Cooker got all nostalgic while reminiscing about morning tea at her Aaji’s while having her party of one.
15. Not your usual cup of tea from Dassana – lemongrass-galangal tea.
16. Don’t miss these gorgeous cups of tea from Shilpa, each one more inviting than the next, with a backdrop that makes you sigh!
17. Manisha’s outstanding Prune Plum Cobbler with Swirled Biscuit topping was definitely worth waiting for! Though the cups of tea she shared would have surely sufficed! That rant touched quite the chord for a lot of us!
18. Lemon and Chillies gives us our own little cakes/muffins that are chocolaty and moist.
19. I tried my hands on fruity prune scones for the first time and was very happy with the results (note to self: use butter next time). On another occasion I made cucumber-tomato-cheese sandwiches which are best served with a pot of tea!
20. Bringing up the tail is Anjali with delicious Tiramisu!
I was planning to do just the usual round up but a friend suggested it was also time to let the cat out. On the ‘flawed’ recipe. Don’t worry, you will live if you have tried or tasted the recipe in question. In fact, do try it if you haven’t already. The flaw ‘corrects’ itself the next day as the flavours mellow and blend.
There are reasons I am harping some more after discussing it here already. A lie, put in poetry, still sounds as hollow as a lie stated plainly. I have not the scantiest of doubts over the claim I made because it is a recipe that is entirely mine – not one inspired by my mother’s cooking, or anyone else’s (as always, credit was given where due – to the friend who shared her spice-roasting trick). Those of you who have been following this blog know that credits are routine here in the story that precedes the recipe, whether it was my house help who wouldn’t have been any wiser (recipe credited with her name, and the posts shown to her – though she cannot read!) or an aunt who shared a friend’s spice mix (in my very first post!). Those of you who feel there is room for the benefit of doubt to be declared in favour of the plagiarist, I suggest perusing the comments for more on the subject.
Over and above everything that has been explained in the comments, the recipe has a flaw. Yes, a simple flaw that any professional cookbook writer, even the anonymous kind who write for booklets that accompany cooking equipment, such as the Hawkins Pressure Cooker cookbook (claimed as the recipe source), will never make. But, which home-cooks such as you or I might, when attempting to recreate recipes from cuisines essentially ‘exotic’ in our kitchens even when we feel a familiarity from years of association through friends and neighbours. A point in case is my ‘flawed’ tempering for avial which was promptly noticed by a reader. Mustard seeds are rarely used to temper avial; I did it instinctively but it is against the norm.
As I developed my chhole recipe I was oblivious to the knowledge that black cardamom is best suited to recipes that call for a long braising. But Musical knew better; she is the real Punjabi after all. The light came on…the penny dropped – why it was that Punjabi garam masala, which relies heavily on this spice, is never roasted! Or why my mom, who loves this spice as much as she loves her tejpatta, always adds both to the pan of chhole being cooked, and not to the masala! Black cardamom is used a lot in Kashmiri cooking too, but usually receives a long simmer in a broth, or is briefly added to hot oil before being drowned in water!
If you are not very careful, a spice that has already been smoked, may burn and even turn bitter on further roasting. Yes, remember Manisha and a couple of other readers commenting about a bitterness that disappears the following day? Well, it is recommended that recipes that use this spice sit for a day to allow the smokiness to mellow! No, I am not changing the recipe. That flaw is there like a protective watermark, don’t you think? Besides, I like it the way it is; and my family is very fond of my chhole. A lot of you count it among your family favourites now! It is not the top post on this blog for nothing. Or the one with the most comments.
So, there it is – the flaw – all ‘exposed’. This flaw is reproduced in all its glory in the blatantly copied recipe. The copied recipe mentions exact quantities of ingredients (except for red chillies and coriander powder), the exact method for preparation, step for step – including observations and tips, and of course, the flaw. There are other copied recipes on that blog (from other bloggers), with a word changed here or there, but the body intact in every other way including capitalization of arbitrary words as per the original recipe (yes, quite the copy-paste exercise there)! She knows about copyright; her pages are protected by Copyscape, for God’s sake!
Whatever. Case closed. Just don’t sing about it. Or spew poetry.
To all who want to write responsibly, read these guidelines. It is not that hard to get it right.