The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East by Chetna Makan

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  • Pear and cardamom upside-down cake

    • raybun on May 03, 2017

      We loved this. The pears and the almond sponge really absorb the cardamom infused caramel.

    • anya_sf on October 23, 2020

      I made 3/4 recipe in an 8" regular cake pan, which worked fine although I had to trim the pears a bit so they'd fit; baking time was about 50 minutes. The orange and almond in the cake went really well with the pears. Next time I'd consider adding cardamom to the cake as well as the caramel.

  • Mango, cardamom and coconut cake

    • anya_sf on May 06, 2019

      I used Nigella's substitute for self-raising flour, but noticed that there's no salt in the batter, so I added 1/2 tsp salt as well, per her American self-rising flour substitute. The mixing method for the cake batter is very simple (basically, dump everything in the bowl and mix) and I wasn't sure it would work well, but went with it. The cakes rose quite high in the oven, but the centers sank a lot during cooling, although they were definitely baked through. I'm not sure if this is due to too much leavening, the mixing method, a combination of those, or something else. The crumb was rather dense and coarse. The combination of coconut and cardamom was heavenly, and wonderful with the mango. Next time I'd use a more traditional mixing method and adjust the leavening in hopes of a slightly lighter texture, and I'd add more fresh mango.

    • FritB on November 03, 2019

      Came out beautiful. I agree that it is strange to dump everything in one go. I creamed the butter first.

  • Almond and coffee cake

    • caitmcg on July 03, 2019

      This is an excellent cake, with both almond and coffee flavors really coming through. My cake was nice and moist, and sliced neatly. I used AP flour and added an extra teaspoon of baking powder, along with some salt and a dash of vanilla.

    • anya_sf on May 04, 2019

      This cake was easy to make. I used Nigella's substitute for self-raising flour, but noticed that there's no salt in the batter, so I did add 1/2 tsp salt as well, per her American self-rising flour substitute. The coffee and almond flavors were prominent, although some people wondered if there were spices, which I think was just the coffee. The cocoa icing was a nice complement. The texture was slightly dry and crumbly due to the almonds. It isn't a large cake, and it disappeared very quickly from the break room at work.

  • Carrot and banana spiced cake

    • nadiam1000 on July 07, 2019

      This was my first bake from this book and unfortunately for me, it was not great. I found it to be dry and not very flavorful which was disappointing considering carrot cake is usually quite moist. The frosting was nice but would not repeat.

  • Showstopper Victoria sponge

    • anya_sf on May 02, 2020

      I made 1/2 recipe baked in 2 6" pans, making 4 layers (2 filled with jam, 1 with curd). Baking time was 22 minutes. The assembled cake held up without a dowel, albeit somewhat lopsided. I made the full amount of jam (seemed tricky to scale down) so there was a lot of extra. The jam was quite runny, but worked okay here to drizzle over the cream. It was also extremely sweet - too much to enjoy on its own, but balanced by the tart lemon curd (I used store-bought). The texture of the cake was rather coarse, which wasn't surprising given the simple mixing instructions. Overall, we quite enjoyed the combination of jam, curd, and cream, which sets this apart from the usual Victoria sponge. The cake was also quick and easy to make (esp. using jarred curd). I preferred it the second day after the fillings melded with the cake more.

  • Mango mousse cake

    • anya_sf on May 21, 2019

      I made 1/2 recipe in a 6" pan. The smaller cake was done in about 25 minutes, at which point the center was just set, although the edges were noticeably brown. The cake turned out a bit dry, but was balanced by the creamy mousse. I used Manila (aka champagne) mangoes and made my own puree. When assembling the cake, it was helpful to have a pan with 3" sides. Overall, my family enjoyed this cake. It was nice and light and not overly sweet.

  • Pistachio, cardamom and white chocolate cake

    • koolMoD on May 13, 2019

      In the US version of the book it's missing powdered sugar as an ingredient in the icing (150g)

    • MmeFleiss on May 31, 2018

      The actual cake is kind of tasteless and blah. It was much improved by the frosting.

  • Masala chai cake

    • Vanessa on March 29, 2020

      Recipe calls for self-rising flour and baking powder. I used regular flour. It also called for a 10" pan, and I used a 9". The cake was fabulous, and very flavorful.

    • inflytur on October 28, 2019

      The perfect balance of chai flavors. The flavor of tea shines through. Not overly sweet. I steeped the cream overnight with some of the chai spices before whipping. It was the perfect complement.

  • Black sesame and lime cake

    • inflytur on October 31, 2019

      A lovely pound cake. No one flavor is overwhelming, although I did not put the icing on it.

  • Date, walnut and nutmeg cake

    • anya_sf on July 17, 2019

      The cake was flavorful, but unfortunately dry, and I'm sure I didn't overbake it. I forgot to buy more cream, so had to improvise on the sauce, making about 1/3 the quantity and increasing the butter a bit (I had a little bit of cream). Chetna says the sauce is optional, but I'd say it's required to compensate for the dry cake. It was very tasty with ice cream, but is basically sticky toffee pudding and there are better recipes out there.

  • Chocolate and mango tart

    • Hannaha100 on November 17, 2016

      Second try at this worked well. Made dairy-free using sunflower spread for butter and soy cream. Pastry took about 5 mins less than specified. Filling needed slightly longer than specified to set. Try to puree (and sieve) mango and zest lemons in advance as this slowed me down. Ultimately it tasted good, filling is like a subtly flavoured mango custard and I enjoyed the mango/chocolate combination - a bit different. Sliced well but didn't travel well - a bit fragile!

  • Degi mirch chicken pie

    • anya_sf on May 24, 2019

      The filling was easy to make. I didn't have black cardamom, so I used extra green cardamom. I also couldn't find degi mirch, so I used half Kashmiri chili, half paprika. The recipe calls for 4 onions; I used 2 large ones. After simmering, the filling had a lot of thin liquid, which I didn't think would work well for the pie, so I stirred in some minute tapioca to thicken it. I also added some frozen peas. Chetna does not provide instruction on what shape to roll the dough and how to cut the rim; I rolled it into a very large circle. There was a lot of extra dough. For the rim, I cut away edge pieces and stuck them together. I assembled the pie ahead of time and chilled it, so it took about 50 minutes to bake. The flavor of the pie was delicious. The crust was very tender, with a lovely taste of its own from the fragrant fenugreek leaves.

  • Aubergine and onion tart

    • anya_sf on May 07, 2019

      I made my own sun-dried tomato paste by soaking dried tomatoes, draining, and pureeing with some olive oil. Once the eggplant and onions were cooked, the tart came together quickly. I added extra cheddar on top. Despite the massive amount of toppings, the tart baked up crisply enough that slices could actually be lifted, although a fork and knife are recommended. The tart tasted great on its own, but was also good with the suggested cucumber raita, which changed the flavor profile of the tart.

  • Peanut chocolate brownies

    • anya_sf on May 10, 2019

      I baked them in a 9"x9" pan and they were very thick. They took 38 minutes to bake to my usual brownie test of "toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached". Maybe if you used a 9"x13" pan they'd bake in 25 minutes, but no way in a smaller pan. The top crust was very crisp and shattered in places when the brownies were removed from the pan, so the brownies weren't very pretty. However, we thought they tasted really good, especially with vanilla ice cream.

  • Rhubarb, strawberry and orange pudding with star anise and cinnamon

    • anya_sf on May 02, 2019

      I made 1/2 recipe in a smaller mold, although not half the size, so the pudding ended up shorter and squatter. I used raw cane sugar in place of golden caster sugar. I didn't know if I should adjust the steaming time for the smaller pudding, and it's kind of awkward to check the pudding for doneness, so I steamed it for the full duration, but think it was a bit overdone (slightly dry sponge). The color of the fruit was muted, so it didn't look that great. Nevertheless, my family really liked it.

  • Peach and strawberry Swiss roll

    • anya_sf on August 26, 2019

      This cake was absolutely delicious! The cardamom-flavored sponge, whipped cream, peaches, and strawberries were wonderful together. However, the recipe had a few issues. For example, you are supposed to pulse the strawberries "just once" until finely chopped; for me, several pulses were needed, but at least I knew what the end state should be. The biggest issue I had was pan size. The recipe calls for a 9"x13" jelly roll pan, which I used, although the cake took an extra 6 minutes to bake through. There was no way I could roll a neat spiral with the small-but-thick sponge and so much fruit-laden whipped cream. The best I could do was a filled cylinder. Next time I'll make a larger roll, but there will definitely be a next time.

    • Astrid5555 on June 18, 2016

      This is a lovely flavor combination with peaches, strawberries and a subtle cardamom taste which comes together in no time at all. The most time-consuming part is actually blanching, peeling and slicing the peaches. Big hit with the kids.

  • Savoury potato couronne

    • Carol.Furness on October 15, 2017

      This is really tasty and looks impressive. I used a Kashmiri Chutney that we buy from local Food Markets

  • Spinach and spice loaf

    • anya_sf on May 13, 2019

      Instead of cooking fresh spinach, I used frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry. The instructions don't say when to add the spinach, so I stirred it in at the end. I didn't have garlic-and-herb-infused oil, so I added some dried oregano and thyme to the batter along with the chili flakes (I used urfa) and cumin. In place of self-raising flour, I used half all-purpose, half white whole wheat flour, plus 3 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp Kosher salt. In a 2 lb loaf pan, the loaf would be very flat. I opted for a 1.5 lb loaf pan so the loaf would be a little taller and it baked in 40 min. The flavor was milder than expected; next time I'd use spicier chili flakes and bump up the other spices as well, and maybe the salt too. The flavor improved after the bread cooled. The texture was moist and not too dense.

  • Onion and fennel bread

    • anya_sf on February 10, 2020

      The dough came together nicely, but shaping instructions seemed impossible. The filling calls for 6(!) onions without specifying a size; I assumed small and used 2 jumbo onions which I thought would be the equivalent. There was a lot of filling, which took extra time to cook and never really got brown, just soft. I was able to roll the filling in the dough initially, but the two halves were too thick and short to successfully twist together and form into a crown. I stretched them out to bring them together as best as I could, but the result was less than attractive. The bread rose and baked okay, but deflated and softened on the bottom upon cooling due to the large amount of filling. The flavors were very nice though. If I attempted this again, I'd use much less onion and shape the bread differently.

  • Chicken naan

    • anya_sf on May 28, 2019

      I substituted white whole wheat flour for chapatti flour. Both dough and filling were relatively quick and easy to make, but assembling these took some time, as you must roll out 20 pieces of dough. Using 2 Tbsp filling per naan (which is all that would realistically fit), nearly half the filling was left over. Chetna says to cook these on a "grill", but doesn't seem to mean an outdoor grill or grill pan, since the photo doesn't show grill marks. I used an electric griddle so I could cook 5 naan at once. That worked okay, but I had to turn up the temperature to get sufficient browning. A cast iron skillet would probably work great if you don't mind cooking them individually. The filling was mildly seasoned, so they were great with spicy chutney, or you could boost the spices in the filling. Unlike naan I've had before, these were sturdy enough to hold toppings. My family enjoyed them.

  • Cauliflower-stuffed naan

    • inflytur on May 31, 2018

      The cauliflower filling is delicious but next time I will use a naan recipe that includes yeast. The dough was really chewy, but not in a pleasant way.

  • Cucumber raita

    • anya_sf on May 07, 2019

      Quick and easy to make, with a nice, refreshing flavor. This raita went well with the aubergine and onion tart, but would be a great accompaniment to many dishes, or a nice dip.

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Reviews about this book

  • Eat Your Books by Jenny Hartin

    A world of spice and delicious bakes from one of the stars of the Great British Bake-off.

    Full review
  • Maison Cupcake

    The former Bake Off contestant works the styles and flavours of her Indian homeland into an accessible book of baking recipes...saffron, tamarind and fenugreek also star.

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 1784721298
  • ISBN 13 9781784721299
  • Published Apr 21 2016
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 240
  • Language English
  • Countries United Kingdom
  • Publisher Mitchell Beazley

Publishers Text


Chetna Makan is known for her unique recipes, which introduce colorful spices, aromatic herbs and other Indian ingredients into traditional Western baked favorites.

Whether it's a sponge cake with a cardamom and coffee filling; puff pastry bites filled with fenugreek paneer; a swirly bread rolled with citrusy coriander, mint and green mango chutney; or a steamed strawberry pudding flavoured with cinnamon, Chetna's Indian influences will transform your baking from the familiar to the exotic, from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Discover rare but precious traditional bakes from India, as well as new spice-infused recipes. Delve into the history of Indian herbs and spices and learn how to match foods and flavors.


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