Of gorillas, budget birthday parties and cakes…

“Let’s figure out how much this is going to cost us, okay?” Two very interested kids – at 8 and 4 – sitting in front of me while i outline how we’re going to do a budgeting exercise – for a birthday party. Having just bought a new flat, we’re neck deep in debt but birthday parties are high on the list of priorities! ¬†And so starts a budgeting exercise aimed at teaching the kids about how to manage money and how much stuff costs. Once they figure out what this is about, suggestions flow in fast including one from Kanch who suggests placing her tiny , black gorilla doll – one of the freebies we used to get in the Binaca toothpaste cartons – on the cake – to save money on icing!!!

Food items are listed – potato patties, burgers, watermelon juice instead of Coke, sprout chaat (from Kanch again who has a ‘thing for sprouts!), devilled eggs (from Arch who has an equal ‘thing’ about eggs!), fruit trifle, the all-important return gifts chosen and so on..birthday cakes having always been home made and home-iced, we only have to decide on a theme- based on Kanchu’s helpful gorilla suggestion!

Armed with papers and pencils, we traipsed off to the shops. Much calculating – with help from Amma – happened. Some things were dropped as “so costly”! Others added. A couple of hours later, we returned home, with the kids feeling very grown up – after all, they had helped to run the household budget! Obviously much showing off happened in school over the next few days!!

Party day dawned and much slaving over the stove with even Kanch “helping” with sandwiches and laying out food and generally putting away stuff – for which i had to do some major hunting later on! The gorilla took pride of place on the cake – a lemon sponge. And so….on a budget of 800 rupees, we had what was voted one of the best birthday parties ever!

Presenting today’s dish – the gorilla’s throne :


  • 180 gm plain flour
  • 160 gm sugar – powdered
  • 100 gm butter (I used Amul table butter)
  • 50 ml sunflower or olive oil
  • 3 medium eggs
  • Baking powder – 1.5 tsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
  • Yogurt – 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons or 1 LARGE lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons with 2 tbsp sugar dissolved in it

Put everything except the lemon zest and juice and mix up a storm. Add the zest, swirl it in and pour into a baking tray. Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 25 to 30 minutes till golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Switch off. /while still hot, brush the lemon-sugar syrup over the top of the cake and return to the warm oven. Serve when cool. Super light, super tangy and altogether very gorilla-ey!!

(pics courtesy internet)