Biscuitwala Bhaiya at Marine Drive, Mumbai

One of the luxuries of living in India is that people are so enterprising you can count that every service imaginable exists and can be quite specialised. For example, would you ever believe that someone would come to your house on a Sunday to sell  only 5 specialised Indian bakeries’ biscuits? I would never have imagined so.

The first time I met the biscuitwala ‘bhaiya’, it was a very  lazy Sunday morning. S and I were contemplating what we should do for brunch. The doorbell rang and I was told the biscuit man was here if I wanted to pick something up. I was very intrigued. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted something but I wanted to check out this concept as I had never heard of it before.

As I stepped outside I saw a very pleasant looking man who greeted me with a smile and a namaste. He had, by his side, opened up a large aluminium trunk or ‘peti’ which was lined with plastic and filled with biscuits.

I immediately recognised some of the standard Indian-Irani bakery biscuits! He had khari biscuits, butter biscuits and jeera biscuits. Khari biscuits are savory and are a little bit like puff pastry  or filo pastry.  They have many thin layers which are well buttered to create a crisp, light biscuit that gives you a slight snap when you bite into it and crumbles a little.  They taste excellent with tea or dipped in tea. Almost like a Mumbai classic.

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Butter biscuits are small round biscuits flavored with jeera or cumin. They are rich and buttery and are slightly salty.  These go very well with typical Indian tea which is sugared. Jeera biscuits, also called as ‘poor man’s biscuits’, are flavoured again with cumin or jeera and have very little butter. Hence the name, poor man’s biscuit. They are very crispy and leave crumbs add you bite into it.

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The other three varieties that I couldn’t recognize were badam maska biscuit, sugar topped khari and rusk toast. Badam maska biscuit, literally meaning almond and butter biscuits are shaped into small fingers.  They are slightly sweet with a hint of cardamom and lots of butter! No surprise that they are my favorite!! I love them dipped into a hot cup of masala chai! Sugar khari is simply khari biscuit topped with sugar grains.

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Rusk toast is a very hard biscuit which had a lot of fibre. It is slightly sweetish and to be honest I do not enjoy them much.

I asked the bhaiya if he made them himself. He said he gets them fresh from a bakery and goes around selling then on Sundays.  I believed him when he said the biscuits were fresh because they were warm when he handed them over to me. He is originally from Gorakhpur and has apparently been around for years. He normally rings the bell on every floor to see if anyone wants anything.  I would assume he visits a few other buildings in the area as well. He is such a sweet and polite man. I asked him a lot of questions because I was so intrigued by him and his concept, but he answered them all patiently and seemed happy to do so.

I find the whole concept so wonderful and interesting. It is a testimony that we, in India, have so many luxuries.

If you have someone who comes to your doorstep and sells such unusual goods, do let me know! Would love to hear more.

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But for now I’m going to. Spend my Sunday enjoying a hot cup of tea and delicious fresh biscuits!

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The absolute best cupcakes EVER!!!

Aren’t cupcakes the best invention ever? They’re perfect when you want a little something sweet, they’re so cute to look at, you can dress them up in a million ways and best of all, you can order different flavors and don’t have to share. You won’t look like a glutton if you don’t share and if you do share, you will most certainly look like an angel! 😉

Baking cupcakes is so much fun! You can decorate them with all the cute sprinkles, frost them with bright colors and my favorite is that I can use these super cute liners! I made my little brother get me 500 different cupcake liners (all with something pink, obviously!) for me! Now before you go around feeling bad for him, 500 cupcake liners are barely 3 inches tall! Surprising something so cute and awesome can be in such a small package. I guess that proves the saying, ‘Big things come in small packages’ true, or does it? Hhhhmmm……

My boyfriend absolutely loves cupcakes and I always send some when I can for him. After experimenting with a few cupcake recipes, I have settled on this particular one. It is the easiest, the moistest and the most delicious cupcake recipe. My search for the perfect cupcake recipe stops right here. I was a little skeptical because it was a vegan recipe but then I had all the ingredients at home and I did have a half bottle of vinegar which I wanted to finish. Vinegar in a cupcake recipe?? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But trust me, you wouldn’t even know these have vinegar. It seemed like the perfect reason to try this recipe and I am so glad I did. These are the best cupcakes ever! I don’t think my cupcakes with eggs and milk and butter taste this good! So since they’re healthier, I feel a little better about eating them! 🙂

The Best Cupcake Recipe Ever

Based on a recipe by kmdipaolo

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (I always  prefer to use whole wheat flour)

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup oil

1 cup water (you can add milk, I prefer to use water)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon vinegar

Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl just until moist and well blended. Avoid over mixing
  • Pour the batter into cupcake lines or grease a muffin tray.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes.
  • Once cooled, you can frost it with your favorite frosting. But these, without any frosting, are perfect with coffee or on their own!

Notes:

  • This recipe makes rich dark chocolate cupcakes. If you prefer to make them without chocolate, omit the 1/3 cup of cocoa and replace with 1/3 cup of flour to make a plain vanilla batter.
  • I make tutti fruiti cupcakes by mixing about 1/2 cup of tutti fruiti pieces in the vanilla batter.
  • To make chocolate chocolate chip muffins, add 1/2 cup (or more!) chocolate chips in the chocolate batter.
  • There are endless mix ins you can add! Feel free to experiment and let me know what combinations turned out best for you!
  • The original author of the post suggests that you can make a layer cake by doubling the recipe and putting it in 2 round pans. Increase the baking time to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
It’s so easy to make these and so quick! Maybe thats what I love the most about this recipe. Put everything in one bowl, mix it a little and in less than half an hour, you have these hot to eat! Wait, isn’t that a bit dangerous though? Something so good, so quick?? I wonder…..

Anyway, I have no doubt that this recipe will be a hit with you. Just remember not to over mix the batter! A big thank you to my friend Amri for sending me these über cute, animal cupcake liners! I have totally fallen in love with them! Look at those super awesome cupcakes! How can you resist them when they look like that?? 🙂

Happy baking everyone!