August in Delhi means the entrance of two of my most dreaded things: monsoons and allergies. From a distance, Delhi rains are one of the most beautiful things. The dense smog above the city subsides and beautiful cumulus cloud formations appear speckled around canvas of light blue. The trees turn green again as the thick dust settled on each leaf gets washed and buffeted around. From a distance, seeing this is absolutely beautiful.
The rains also lead to one of the greatest civic disasters in the tristate area— cars breakdown, roads are waterlogged, accidents increase, and if this wasn’t enough, basic things like traffic lights stop working as well. The city roads are a mess. Just writing this gave me anxiety about how long it will take me to get back home. This week, on average I’ve spent 4 hours a day commuting to work. While its only an hour more than my regular commute, it felt longer. A year of driving on the roads have allowed me to perfect my route to and from work. I know where the bottleneck points are and how to get around them with the least stoppage; where the traffic cops hide to catch cars that are older than 15 years (mine just turned 15, so I usually slow down and drive next to a large SUV to be hidden from the eye line of cops). I also know detours from inside residential areas that cut through points where the main roads are being built. All this optimization has allowed me to curate a route that has minimal traffic jams and next to none stalls. But you can’t for factors beyond your control. I there is 3 feet of water on the roads, and the car in front of you has stalled because water entered their exhaust, there’s nothing you can but just sit and wait.
Archit vs. Traffic
Other than the traffic, the rains also bring them allergens and launch a change in season. With every monsoon, gust comes hive-inducing dust and pollen leading to itchy hands and eyes for weeks on end. Fresh food too goes through this phase where fruits and vegetables are either too ripe that should have been eaten yesterday or too unripe. Most unripe fruits are tart, something that comes from an overproduction of mild acids. Acids and my body do not get. Apart from the ones my body produces, any new acid results in an attack between the acid and my leucocytes with my tongue the battleground— left throbbing and in sores like scorched marks of victory and defeat respectively. The sad thing about all this is the fact that I am genuinely not a picky eater. So, what might have been a bliss for some who hate aubergine stews and early morning bananas, I was embargoed by some of my favorites foods. Well, embargo might be too strong of a word, I still eat most of these things. Yes, it hurts and I don't eat them often enough, but push comes to hunger, I won't even think twice to eat them.
Being a season of overripe fruits, I picked up some overdone bananas from a veggie seller that sells old produce for cheaper and began thinking of ways to use yogurt and fruit in a baked dessert. I wanted to take part in Epigamia’s tasty type YogArt challenge and create a kinda sorta healthy recipe. Basically, something that had the carbs of a regular dessert but had the healthy angle in mind.
A banana bread works because of the bananas. They are dense, sweet, and have a flavor profile that moves from apple to vanilla. The chocolate compliments the fruit well and brings the bread closer to a cake because, to be honest, I like my desserts too sweet and savories to be savory— none of this sweet and salty crap! A lot of banana bread recipes add a dairy component, though most have high fat such as sour or heavy cream. I added yogurt because it has the needed fat but at the same time, the lactic acid makes the dessert tart, similar to what yeast would do to a proofed pizza dough. Fruit-based breads are great to make and immensely forgiving. Give it a try and keep me posted how you let carbs won this weekend!
Glimpses from the week
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large very ripe bananas, divided
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
100 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
⅓ cup low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon crystalline sugar
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius. Lightly coat an 8½x4½" loaf pan with unsalted butter. Line bottom of the pan with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides.
Whisk all-purpose flour, oat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Mash 3 bananas with a potato masher or fork in a medium bowl until smooth. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl if needed. Reduce speed to medium-low, add yogurt, vanilla, and mashed bananas; beat until combined.
Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated (do not overmix or the cake will become tough). Fold in chocolate.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Slice remaining banana lengthwise into 2 equally thick planks and place on top of the cake, cut sides up. Sprinkle batter, trying to avoid bananas, with crystalline sugar.
Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (there may be some melted chocolate residue left on the tester, which is fine), 45-55 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely. Remove from the tip and serve.