Monday, August 13, 2012

Baking Egg-free and jibes

A couple of years ago, (it could be slightly more than that too) I suddenly developed an interest in baking. Not that it was new-found. My mom had made a house-shaped cake for my first birthday, in an age where there were no electric whisks and all that. Everything had to be done by hand - artisanal - as it has come to be known today.

There was a small hitch though. Baking egg-free. Because of my belief systems and also because I wasn't a fan of the eggy flavour. I couldn't tolerate this taste since when I was a 2-3 year old, reportedly. I wouldn't touch ice-cream that had egg-based custard. I would say "it smells weird" in Marathi. A language, as I would have said earlier, which was the first I ever learned. And sadly forgot after we left Mumbai - The place I referred to as 'Ghar' for years. 

Now when I said I make cakes, the first question would be - How? Eggs? And I would say egg-free. I would probably face a good stream of jibes about how sad it is, yadayadayada. 

Only thing is I have seen so many people fawning over, lets say, non-Indians who have become Buddhists or follow the Yin-Yang method of eating and say wow, you don't eat eggs? meat? Spicy food? That's just AMAZING!

However, being a vegetarian all my life, if I said, I am a strict vegetarian, but eat dairy products (and please don't leave a comment saying that milk is non-vegetarian. This is just the way I am) the next thing would be why don't you try some meat or the other. I was once asked to 'try' Deer meat in Canada. Now for the life of me, I cannot imagine how people would have the heart kill such a peace loving, beautiful animal and eat it. Not that hens and goats or cows go on a rampage and wage war. But well that is my opinion. Saapdunga, nalla irukkum. Pazhagikkonga, I would be told. I'd rather starve than eat meat. Something that Ilayaraja sir also said when we went to the concert to Italy. I was surprised to know Raja sir was a very strict vegetarian. And incidentally, we were the only two, if I remember right, that survived on flavored yoghurt and apples for more than a week. And I live to tell the tale, more than 8 years on, no? I remember Raja sir chiding a gentleman, a vegetarian, who said he was soo hungry that he'd eat a hamburger, "You might as well cease to live". The remark hit home.

Anyway, coming back, two years ago it was difficult to find an oven in Chennai. Now there are at least some options! On that note Miele India, if you can read this, there is no point in selling an oven for 2.5 Lakhs if it cant even hold a basic 10" round pan. Please get real.

Now, a lot of people have taken to baking. I don't know how this fad started. I used to be taunted by so many on Twitter when I posted a pic or two about egg-free cakes. And I once made an egg-free macaron. Yes the French Macaron, and not macaroons. Tastes amazing. Got it right after 6 failed attempts. And realized the 6 times were a failure mainly because of my oven. I soo wish more of these oven brands come down. The hobby bakers list is growing like mad.

Nevertheless, I learned Vegan baking was big in the US. So is egg-free, nut-free baking, mainly because of food-allergies. I am not vegan, but adapted recipes to egg-free only. 

And now there is a huge community of bakers and even more people asking for egg-free recipes. And now, I am smiling to myself. And I don't mind taking some credit for the change because of all the egg-free cake tooting I did on Twitter the past couple of years.

It could be something as simple as hobby-baking. But one more lesson learnt. If you choose to not bend over backwards and stick to your beliefs, things will change. For your benefit. Especially when it is not hurting anyone, really.

As for being made fun of about being a vegetarian, that will never cease, definitely not in Tamilnadu :)


Anonymous said...

I've been a big fan of MTR bakery products and whenever I happened to travel to Bangalore, I pack sacks of their eggless products(They do only eggfree). It's really delicious.

Prabu jp said...

Hi chinmayee i am your big fan you are the best singer i like your voice & songs

Prabu jp said...

Hi chinmayee i am your big fan you are the best singer i like your voice & songs

Unknown said...

Being a vegetarian when being abroad is really tough. I did underwent the pain when i was in US, particularly when u go for lunch with your clients. I managed other days by self cooking :) an easier solution.

Somehow was able to manage my vegetarianism through the trip of 5 months.

Mohan0128 said...

As a fellow life-long vegetarian, I too shudder at the thought of eating the flesh of a poor, harmless creature.

Having undergone major surgery, I learned from my doctors that my nerdy, vegetarian, tea-totaling life style is what is keeping me alive.

Something for Chennaikaarans to think about.

Rajesh K said...

Many non-vegetarians who make fun of vegetarians want to convert over to the other side, but are somehow struck. That's why they try to ridicule vegetarians, hoping that they will provide inspiration to switch over.

In your own words, haters are confused lovers :)

Preethi said...

Hi Chinmayi,

I was so excited to read that you've attempted an egg-free macaron. I'm a strict vegetarian too, and have been scouting for macaron recipes for the past few years. Would you mind sharing your recipe, or point me towards some that you've tried?

Thanks very much!


Anonymous said...

Hey Chinz, if people ask you hereafter, just say you are a lacto-vegetarian. That would shut those boisterous mouths!!

Faizul Ahamed said...

Hi Chinmayi,

I love your voice and respect you for your grit and determination.

I see few comments above which denounces Nov-veg eaters. I feel sad for the same. Being a non-vegetarian,my views are as we respect vegetarians, the same need to reciprocated. May be Human beings adapted to non-veg to survive and thrive in different geographic and climatic conditions during evolution. Thanks Faizul Ahamed.

Ananth said...

Hi Chinmayi,

I am a grat fan of yours, living in US for the past 20 yrs or so. Still single and a Veg. Having traveled all over the world for work still managed to be a vegetarian. I fully agree with your blog, hard to change habits...too bad about Bambie..


Anonymous said...

Hey Chinmanyi,

Honestly, I don't see a point in being vegetarian and say you don't want that cos animals are killed. A person has to be a vegan or rather eat meat. Vegetarianism doesn't make sense to me

If you are too particular about hurting animals, you have to be a vegan. Try to watch a video on how cows are treated in India/USA. In slaughter houses,the cows undergo torture for 3 mins and die(maximum). Dairy farming, its worse (4 years) I swear you would go vegan.

I was born in India and raised in Sydney all my life, I am a strict vegan.


Anonymous said...

So nice of you to mention about Raja Sir, here, in this context. God Bless you. Let Success, Godliness prevail everywhere, everyone be blessed and all reach to great heights of Glory. May God Be with you.

Rajesh alias Balasubramanian said...

If you choose to not bend over backwards and stick to your beliefs, things will change. For your benefit. Especially when it is not hurting anyone, really
- True

As for being made fun of about being a vegetarian, that will never cease, definitely not in Tamilnadu :)
- Yeah. Many time people ask me to eat and even cite that many brahmins/vegetarians eat non-veg nowadays. But they dont understand that belief system.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chinmayi Sis,
I'm a very big fan of you, from your "please sir" song.
And now your 'Saara kaathu' song is making me go crazy.
The lyrics, the visual , the music and the voice are perfectly mingling together.
But one thing, I don't understand these lyrics.
"முக்கண்ணு நொங்கு தான் விட்கிறேன்....
மண்டு நீகங்கைய கேட்குர"
if my lyrics are correct, then what's the relationship between Palm and the Ganges?

Please do reply. :)

iK Way said...


surprised to see your comment that being made fun of about veggie in TN.

I can say it is across India and nothing meant to be offensive in it every time.

I had been to 3 different zones of India so far and stayed there for quite some time as well - had chance to interact with the locals - advantage of not being a celebrity!. Heard stories of belief veggies - by custom or caste - are ridiculed in college canteens as far as by going to the extent of placing an egg or chicken food item on their plate by fellow students - Not in TN but in erstwhile U.P Bihar areas. Willed ones pass through and others falter.

பட்டாம்பூச்சி said...


Anonymous said...

FYI, people who are drinking milk are not pure vegetarians. You must call yourself a lacto-vegetarian.

Muthuvel said...

To each his own and all.
But if one really studies evolution, humans evolved as omnivores. Eating meat and all, yes. Vegetarianism and veganism are very recent trends, if the whole evolution time-line is taken into account. But that's only if one believes that all humans descended from unicellular organisms that once floated in a primordial ooze, billions of years ago, it won't hold water if anyone's deluding that Brahma created them (twice?!) :))

Aside, good that you are not averse to including milk, because there are certain vitamins that are bio-available to humans only through animal foods (bio-available is different from being just available in the said foods). And I personally know Vegans who suffered a lot of health problems and regained their health only after introducing milk and eggs.

That aside, vegetarianism or veganism is a choice. Posturing it as some sort of ethical high-pedestal et al are taking it to a ridiculous laughable extent. Just saying. It's a myopic view to view a deer's killing for food as cruel. Its nothing when compared to the amount of forest lands that are razed down every day for all the industrial developments and agricultural purposes (all the mono-crop Soy and corn grown in US which Vegans want). By our very existence, humans are out-competing the animals. So one doesn't need to kill and eat to participate in the slaughter. What is needed, is not so mucha veganism/vegetarianism fad, but more a shift towards sustainable farming methods, the way traditional cultures all over the world lived healthily, with respect to nature and the animals.

Plus, one small question. Do you uproot your carrots or greens entirely or merely cut them out when lovingly caressing the actual plant? I suppose its the former.

Isn't it killing?

How is the life of a plant any less than the life of a deer?

elements said...

Hi Chinmayi
Can you please let me know the oven name,model that you use in baking.
I'm afraid my recipe will fail because of wrong choice of oven.