A dish Mum taught me to cook: Neelam Vasudevan’s Cocoa Cake

Most mums have a special recipe, something that is a trademark of their talent. This Mother’s Day we share the secrets and stories behind some of these masterpieces. Here, a recipe from Mum’s little helper, NEELAM VASUDEVAN

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My mum Sheila was a great cook and would pour so much love into her cooking that our kitchen was always open 24/7, and our house always seemed full with the dining table constantly occupied by different faces. My earliest memory of really cooking with my mother takes me back to 1978, when we first moved to Mumbai. Mum used to attend baking classes at the YMCA in Colaba, and who was the happiest person to go along? Me!
I would sit patiently, listening to the instructions carefully, watching the method and longing to taste the goodies even before they came out of the oven. Upon returning home, Mum and I would bake each recipe once again.

Whether Indian or international cuisine, Mum would try out new recipes regularly. I was only too eager to fill her recipe books and in the process I learned too. Her pizzas and cakes were legendary, and she had the best aide helping her out…  me! I remember Mum trying out Cocoa Cake after we went to a friend’s birthday party and sampled one which was yum! So we had to come back home and make it with our own changes, of course! How can you use vinegar in cake? But we tried it out and it was over before you could ask, “Want some more?”

Most mums have a special recipe, something that is a trademark of their talent. This Mother’s Day we share the secrets and stories behind some of these masterpieces. Here, a recipe form Mum’s little helper, NEELAM VASUDEVAN


Over the years I really enjoyed helping Mum in the kitchen and developed the skills I needed to venture out on my own. Today I love doing what my Mum did – making and serving something new. Thanks Mum, for what I am today. This Mother’s Day I want to tell you that I love you and am thankful for all that you have done for me. Even though you smile at me from the heavens above, I know my time spent with you always inspired me to make mouth-watering delights for my family and friends.

Most mums have a special recipe, something that is a trademark of their talent. This Mother’s Day we share the secrets and stories behind some of these masterpieces. Here, a recipe form Mum’s little helper, NEELAM VASUDEVAN

Cocoa Cake is a special recipe from my mother’s kitchen. Enjoy!


Cocoa Cake
1¾ cups flour
¾  cup cocoa (use ½ cup if it is very strong)
1 level tsp of soda bicarb
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vinegar
1 capful vanilla essence

For the chocolate icing:
1¼ cup icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp butter at room temperature
1 tbsp boiling water

In a bowl, sieve together flour, cocoa and soda about 3 or 4 times. and keep aside. In a smaller bowl, mix 1 cup milk with 1/3 cup vinegar – stir it around until the mix curdles. Beat the eggs along with the vanilla essence in a separate bowl and set aside.
Now take a large mixing bowl and cream together butter and sugar with a spatula, stirring constantly until the mix becomes creamy in texture. Add in the beaten eggs gradually, stirring till well mixed. Add the flour slowly, continue stirring. Next, add the curdled milk, and gently fold into the mix. Take care not to over beat the mix. Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes or till the cake is done. Poke a knife or skewer into the cake to check if it is fully baked; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Serve with your favourite ice cream or chocolate sauce, or ice with chocolate icing when completely cool.
To make the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Add in butter and boiling water, and stir till smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over the top of the cake and serve.

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