A Cultural Rhapsody
I was 17 when I read Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. And it had a profound impact on me. I missed school and classes for two days, pretended sick and stayed at home to finish the book. It almost felt as if her difficulties would lengthen if I took longer to finish the book. I don’t know if I was empathizing more with Betty or her daughter Mahtob, or both, while simultaneously realizing that Dr. Moody, the father also had honorable intentions, considering his cultural upbringing.
Betty and Moody came from entirely contrast backgrounds, she knew freedom and yearned for it, for herself and her daughter. Moody saw patriarchal way of living in Iran where he grew up, and the way he treated his wife and daughter was the normal way of life in Iran. His mom, sisters, and other women in the family adhered to the beliefs and he wished his wife would too. She, an American, did not confirm and hence retaliated, which led to a vicious circle of fights. Later, Moody told his wife that she can leave, but as per Islamic law, the daughter’s custody would be with him. He was her father, and had equal right to raise her as he deems fit; but Betty wanted an American way of life for her daughter. Unfortunately the book is from Betty’s point of view, but I yearn to read what Moody felt when his daughter was taken away from him, in the middle of the night.
Honestly speaking, at that point of time I couldn’t imagine being separated from my mom, so I was glad that it ended it victory for the mom and daughter. But now, a decade later, I see the somewhat faulty, biased premise of the book. An aunt from my husband’s side, married an Irani guy who she met studying at Delhi University. They shifted to Iran after her wedding, and lived luxuriously for a couple of years in Iran, as he belonged to a royal family. They had two lovely daughters. Then because of the increasing turmoil in Iran due to the Gulf War, they left Iran and settled in the US. All of them. For 20 odd years they were happily married, and eventually due to some problems between the two of them, they got a divorce and she came back to India. But the point is, she always describes her life in Iran with a lot of fondness. True, their customs are different from ours, but you sort of accept that when you decide to marry a man from that culture!
That was also the time when I realised that I am not capable of handling such a huge cultural diversity. It takes a truckload of patience and courage to accept and assimilate into a different culture you are marrying into. And all the talk of women’s liberation does little to help when you want to adjust into the new family, a majority of the changes have to be absorbed by the woman. Even a strictly vegetarian Jain girl finds it strange is she gets married to a mutton-relishing Punjabi guy. And that is just the beginning. I knew different cultures are a mix of amazing and some very peculiar practices. But I am a sucker for traditions and love the little things that we did as a family , as a community. I knew, I would marry someone who has the same kind of social set-up and values.
So even though the poignancy of that book washed over me and had me in a trickle of tears, my takeaway from the book was way different from what Betty Mahmoody had put in front of us. Nevertheless, like every chisel blow shapes a statue, this book had a big role to play in the way I viewed the world, from thereon.
I have always loved the Choco Lava Cake which comes with the Dominos Pizza. A choco ‘lava’ cake is basically a slightly undercooked cake, with a chocolate chunk in the centre, which melts while the cake is being baked, but does not bake fully into a solid with the rest of the cake. I researched for several recipes, but the thought of eating a slightly underbaked cake with eggs was deterring.
So I researched and tried some more recipes to make an Eggless choco lava cake. Two of the recipes came close to having atleast some amount of molten chocolate, but texture wise one was a disaster. The other one was good, although I would have preferred a bubbling sizzling chocolate lava coming out of it. But in this case there was just a hint of molten chocolate inside.
Eventually, let me be honest, I realised that a oozing chocolate cake from the centre is not really possible, so I filled it with some melted chocolate , yeah totally cheat sheet.
But its a beautiful and super simple eggless chocolate cake, and I had to share the recipe!
Serving suggestion : Pour some melted chocolate in the centre and serve with vanilla ice-cream.
Eggless Chocolate Cake with inserted Lava
4 ramekin cakes
What you will need :
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup softened butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- 1/2 cup yoghurt
- Chocolate chunks, coated with flour
What to do :
- preheat oven to 220C.
- In a bowl, sift all purpose flour + cocoa powder + baking powder + baking soda.
- In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together till pale and creamy.
- Add in yoghurt and flour mixture, alternately, in 3 steps, ending with the flour mixture.
- Grease 4 metal ramekins with butter.
- Pour the prepared batter in a ziplock bag or a pastry bag without a tip and pipe it into the ramekins for a smooth swirl. Alternately, you can even spoon in the batter into the ramekins.
- Press a chocolate chunk in the centre and cover it up with some more batter. Do not let the chocolate chunk touch the base of the ramekin.
- Bake at 220C for 8-10 mins, till it is light and springy to touch. A skewer inserted in the centre will show some batter sticking to the centre, which is good. Stop baking and let it cool on wire racks.
- Before unmolding, run a knife along the edge of the ramekin and upturn in to a plate.
- Being an eggless cake it is perfectly safe to leave it slightly undercooked. The centre is still gooey and if you are lucky, some chocolate might come pouring out 🙂
- This cake is best enjoyed warm with cold icecream.