Traditional Cucumber Cake / Nesel Adde / Genda- dha Adde
Cool and juicy cucumbers are in season now, since summer is fast approaching.There is nothing to quench your thirst on a warm day then eating cool cucumbers.One can have them in pickles, salads & or with yogurt, they turn delicious.I wanted to try, yet another recipe ,filled with nostalgic memories for me,as summer treats from my Grand moms during summer holidays when we visited them as kids.Something about the love, that my Grand moms gave us grandkids, no one can replace, just eternal ….and so is the food they cooked to entwine our taste buds with memories.
Both my Grand moms lived in villages, in ancestral homes surrounded by trees & farms, where every waking memory is of the aroma that wafted from the old traditional kitchen , filled with pots & pans & vegetables grown in the farm around the house, yes in a way everything that we ate was ORGANIC, so to speak and that packed with a lot of love, is a great combination that helps spread cheer to this day…..no, no, it has nothing to do with genes, all to do with a strong sense of belonging to each other & nurturing that feeling.
This is called” Nesel adde or Genda dha Adde” in the local language because, it was seasoned with onions & was made with traditional make believe ovens in those days which was more like a contraption with burning coal packed on either end, yes we have no reason to complain about making them now, since by a click of a switch the oven gets heated these days, yet they took the pains to make the most delicious of memories for us going through all that trouble,a ladle brandishing Julia Child in their own rights smile emoticon.This traditional cucumber cake is baked in a large vessel & steam cooked with large amounts of burning coal kept on top & burnt firewood with embers at the bottom, just to give the cake a baked brown smoked taste, yes I strongly believe inventions are born of necessity & if they had not done that those
days , who knows we might have had breakfast at McDonalds everyday .Unlike the regular cake that has baking powder & baking flour, this does not have any of that, its made with everyday items found in the Indian pantry- rice, jaggery, coconut, cashew nuts, onions, ghee & fresh pick from the fields around, yes the main ingredient cucumber.Read on & enjoy a traditional breakfast when the mood calls for it, this can also be savored as an evening snack, will be a great hit among children…..the reason, why I want to preserve these traditional recipes, since our kids should know the essence of cooking with love.
Cucumbers- 2 ( finely grated, the traditional one believes in peeling the skin, I kept it on while grating, just to give it an original touch)
Cashew nuts- a handful
Raisins a few
Onion- 1 ( big)
Ghee- 1/2 cup
Rice- 2 cups ( regular rice used to make dosa/pancakes)
Jaggery- 1/2 cup or more( according to taste)
Methi/fenugreek seeds- a pinch( to soak with rice)
Coconut shredded- 1/2 cup( freshly grated)
salt- to taste
1.Soak rice along with methi seeds for 3 hours & then wash it & grind to a coarse paste, along with jaggery, cucumbers & coconut.Set aside
2.Heat the ghee in a wok, add the finely sliced onions when warm. Sauté it till it turns brown.Now add the cashew nuts & raisins to the mix.
3.Then add the ground mix of rice, jaggery , coconut & cucumbers to it.Add salt to taste.Stir it a while, till it mixes completely with the onions in the ghee.( In olden days they used to leave the thick bottomed large vessel in which this was made covered with a lid & allowed it to steam , placing burning coal on top & bottom to give that brownish crusted smoked flavor), I switched to a more easier route on baking the same mix in an oven.
4.Preheat the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees & then place this mix in a baking pan & allow it cook for an hour.
5.Remove it from oven when you see the brown crust & check it with a toothpick/fork to see if its well cooked & the toothpick is not sticky.
6.Remove it from oven, let it sit to cool.
7.Cut into desired shapes & serve as an evening snack or for breakfast.
Enjoy your cucumbers in yet another way,yes, an old but not yet forgotten way, you will be thankful you did!
1. Keep the the blended batter coarse & not too fine, while grinding the rice mix
2. Jaggery is less sweeter than sugar & is considered more tasty & healthy & certainly enriches this dish.