It’s snowing in Madras!

I come home from work one day and ring the doorbell – the children have holidays and are at home. To my puzzlement (I can hear lots of noise inside), no one answers. Dig around in my handbag and find the key to let myself in… and walk into a… snowstorm! In the thick of the Madras summer, with temperature soaring waa…y above forty, where sweating occurs more naturally than breathing, my genius kids have found a way to beat the heat! Or so I thought for an instant as visions of a Nobel prize awarded jointly to a seven-year old and her three-year old sister floated past my eyes! I really would have to do something about Kanchu’s fingers-in-the mouth habit before she went up on stage… ran my thoughts!

Then the snow cleared a bit and I saw through a haze of what looked like flakes but were actually tiny thermocol balls, several small faces… gloriously happy faces… my kids and a few others… the game was so exciting that no one noticed me come in. Then the story unfolds… they’re playing at Snow White, have built a ‘palanquin’ in which an Indianised Snow White can be carried. Kanch being the smallest, is obvious choice for being carried… also she doesn’t mind a couple of tumbles as her swains – Archana, Vinaya and Vasavi… try lifting a very unbalanced palanquin! K, as long as she continues to get attention, is quite happy to get tossed about a bit! 

The palanquin is made out of a cardboard carton with ‘windows’ cut out in the side and the snow… ah, the snow… has been painstakingly obtained from hours of slaving over breaking up thermocol packing sheets into little balls! In the process, my house, which has an open plan kitchen-dining-drawing room is… well, is in the thick of a snowstorm! For a second, I wondered whether I should do the mom act and yell at the kids for a mess etc. etc. but better sense prevails. 

Half an hour later, the aunt of one of the kids – an excellent housekeeper – comes to pick her up and walks into this… mess! In the middle of the snowstorm, nursing a cup of tea and lost in a novel, is the mom… me! Explanations and apologies from me are waved aside… it is so evident that happiness is the order of the day… having decided that I couldn’t do anything to make things better, meaning cleaner… I decided to do the next easiest thing – to let it be! 

And so to celebrate Snow White’s surviving several tumbles out of the palanquin, none the worse for the wear, we decided to make a day of it and make this easy chocolate, coffee and almond cake.


  • Plain flour / maida – 140 gm sieved with 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Cocoa powder – 40 gm
  • Sugar 180 fm – powdered
  • Almond meal – 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
  • Coffee powder – instant – 2 tsp mixed with 1 tsp of water
  • Table butter – 80 gm
  • Sunflower oil – 60 gm
  • Yogurt – 30 gm
  • Eggs – 3


  • Dark cooking chocolate – 1 bar – about 100 gm
  • Cream – 50 ml

Cream the butter, oil and sugar together for a few minutes. This cake does not involve any great amount of creaming etc – it’s basically and all-in-the-bowl cake. Break the eggs in and mix again. Add all the other ingredients and mix for 3-4 minutes till fluffy.  Pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 200 C for about 35 minutes till done.

Let cool. For the ganache, heat the chocolate and cream together in a double boiler and when it’s glossy and smooth, pour over the cake.

Don’t let the thermocol balls fall into it while you’re eating, though!