Apr 10, 2013

Our Housewarming Ceremony and a birthday special Eggless Vanilla Cake!

Days are running by so fast. All I can remember is moving to our new house on March 29th and it’s already Apr 10th…Until 29th we were packing and packing and now we are unpacking and unpacking and it doesn’t seem to get over at all! But we’re taking it slow. We’ve somehow managed to get the kitchen set up and functional, so now the other rooms can get slowly dressed up :-)

Coming back to March29th - quite an eventful day and I wanted to share a few glimpses here and there of our Housewarming Ceremony and ofcourse a lovely last minute Eggless Vanilla birthday cake with Mango whipped cream frosting which I made for my Big B’day Boy in between all the chaos!!!
Oh, and  my parents are here btw…Yaay! So we had a lot of help in the end with packing, cleaning and Cooking :-P I hope you enjoy this post, so keep reading and enjoy the pics :-)

Most of us Indians believe in auspicious days and specific times to begin anything that holds a great deal of importance. We call it Muhurtham / Muhurat.  So we checked with our parents for an auspicious date to move in to our new home and anytime after 9:30am on March 29th was really good to enter the new home as per some astrologer. Manish celebrates his b’day on March 29th as well, making the day even more special!
I made vertical patterns around the cake using a fork...wasn't great but it added some design ;-)
Let’s begin with the Cake :-) I’ve always made Manish’s b’day cake. Two years back also we were shifting to a new apartment exactly on the 29th of March and yet I managed to bake a chocolate cake being 6 months pregnant then!! Last year I made a Vanilla Sponge Cake with Raspberry Mousse , a day before we were going to India…so always his b’day falls on a day when we are always neck deep with packing for something :-) So this year’s shifting and packing wasn’t going to deter my plans.

I made two 6” Eggless Vanilla cakes on Mar 28th.  One was for my b’day boy and the other one for my good friend who helped take care of my Lil’Appu while we went to work during the day ever since he was 6 months old. It was her wedding anniversary on 27th and though I was late with the cake I wanted to do something special and they enjoyed it!
The only ingredients for frosting I had was whipping cream and mango pulp and I used them to make the best Mango Cream ever! My choice for an eggless cake was due to the fact that we were going to have Pooja on 29th in the morning (and usually we try to avoid anything non-veg on that day) and my friend is vegetarian, so it fit well :-)
We cut the b’day cake at midnight on March 29th (the last day in our apartment), amidst packing up and phone calls from family and friends. Even our little guy was awake to wish Dada at midnight and graciously obliged to help cut the cake and also scratched off some portion of the cream and gobbled it up happily. The cake was awesome, dense yet moist and the mango cream was the best part!
The chocolate shavings on top was my failed attempt at making chocolate curls…will be trying that again another time! 

Soon after the cake cutting we all had a big slice each and went about with the remaining set of packing and then off to sleep, as we had to get up early the next day in preparation for our Grihapravesh  Pooja. (Recipe for the cake is shared at the end)


Housewarming or Grihapravesh ceremony is performed on the occasion of one's first entry into a new house. It’s performed to ward off evil and bring in hope, prosperity and happiness in the new house. The ceremony included Vaastu Pooja and Ganapathy Homam. As March 29th was the most auspicious day for the ceremony, we had called a priest/poojari to come to our new home to offer prayers and bless our home. Only family was present for the ceremony and I’m going to share few snaps of the happenings before, during and after the pooja.

That’s me plucking out the flowers for the Vaastu Pooja. Rarely do we come across a pooja in Hindu religion without flowers. It is offered to the Gods while doing the prayers.

Phal (fruits) and Phool (flowers) are a must at any pooja and we got them arranged. The Green Pumpkin you see below is used as a 'Dhrishti' - to ward off evil eyes (just a belief, not that anyone has evil eyes!) It's usually kept in the front of the house facing the north-east direction...but we kept it on our backyard patio deck facing north-east.

That’s the sweet Pongal my mom made as Prasad before the prayers began. Prasad is an edible food that is offered to the Lord and once the prayers are done, we consume it in the belief that the food has been blessed. It can be sweet or savory but vegetarian. This pongal was made with rice and jaggery , flavored with cardamom and garnished with fried cashews and raisins. It's the same recipe as my Sarkara pongal (without the moong dal) but made in a larger quantity.

The poojari applies chandan and kumkum on the Kalash before starting the prayers for the Vaastu Pooja. The Kalash is an olden way representation of the body of God as no one knows what God looks like. The coconut forms the head, the vessel forms the body and the mango leaves forms the hair. There is water inside the vessel, which is considered as the fluid in the body. I got this info from the poojari, so if anyone wants to comment more on it please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Navadhanya is placed in the plate/thaali above. Navadhanya are the nine grains that are offered to the Navgrahas - it is beleived that Navagrahas are the nine heavenly bodies that have the power to influence our life on Earth , they include the Sun (Surya), Moon (Chandra), Mars (Mangal), Mercury (Budh), Jupiter (Brihaspati or Guru), Venus (Shukra), Saturn (Shani), Rahu and Ketu.
The Navadanya includes Bengal Gram, Wheat, Horse Gram, Green Gram, Rice, White beans, Black Seasame seeds, Chickpeas and Black Gram.

After about an hour or so, the Vaastu Pooja was over. 

Manish was then asked to sprinkle holy water (the water present in vessel forming the Kalash) around the entire house with the mango leaves. (I had to quickly take this snap as he was moving too fast :-) )

Then we performed the Ganapthy Homam, following the priest's instructions. Lil'Appu sat on my lap the whole time and was very well behaved and keenly observed the rituals.

As part of the Ganapathy Homam that was performed Manish had to break a coconut in front of the house…some of which landed on my shoes :-) Coconut is the most common Prasad offered in temples and breaking the coconut symbolizes breaking our Ego and starting afresh.

Another symbolic housewarming ceremony is to boil milk until it boils over. According to the Hindu belief, boiling of milk and letting the milk spill and overflow, would ensure that our lives are overfilled with abundance of wealth, health and happiness. Also distributing the left over milk signifies that the happiness and sorrows are distributed equally amongst the family members.
(I couldn’t take a snap of the milk overflowing, but we served the milk in Wine glasses…that’s the only glass we could find in between all the packed up boxes :-) )

The Pooja went on for about 3 hrs and once it was over, we enjoyed the sweet pongal and milk – we hadn’t eaten anything until then…except for lil’Appu who was excused...hehe!
It was a beautiful and happy day. Lil’Appu was simply too excited to pose for any pics and these are a few we managed to click :-)
We are dressed in authentic Keralite attire - Set sari for Ladies and Set Mundu for Men , Appu wore a Sherwani
Later we went back to our apartment to finish off some more packing (yes, packing never ends…or that’s what I thought then) and then the movers were gonna come to help shift more boxes to the new place.

Now coming back to the recipe for the Eggless Vanilla cake which I followed from here. It’s a really easy cake to prepare and you don’t need any fancy equipment. I just used my whisk to mix everything. It makes a decent 9”cake or two 6” cakes.

Eggless Vanilla Cake with Mango Cream

You’ll need
For cake
All purpose flour or Cake flour - 1 ½ cup + 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Sweetened Condensed Milk - 1 tin
Butter - 1 stick (at room temp)
Milk -  3/4  cup
Yogurt - 4 tblsp
Vanilla extract- 2 tsp  

For Mango cream 
Heavy whipping Cream – 1 cup (Use 2 cups for bigger cake)
Confectioners Sugar (or powdered sugar) – 3-4 tblsp
Sweetened Mango Pulp – 5-6 heaped tblsp

Directions
For Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9" round baking pan with butter and keep aside. ( I greased two 6" round baking pans)
2. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In another bowl beat or whisk together the butter and condensed milk for few minutes until well combined. Mix in the yogurt and beat again. Finally add the milk and beat until well incorporated.
4. Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a whisk or electric hand blender until no lumps are present. Be careful not to overmix the batter as it may result in a very dense cake.
5. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
(For my 6" cakes I poured 2 cups+ 5tblsp batter into each pan and baked both cakes together for 35 minutes)
6. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack and refrigerate for about an hour before applying the frosting.

For Mango cream
1. Beat the heavy whipping cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form using an electric hand mixer or a whisk.
2. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat , make sure not to over beat the cream
3. Add mango pulp in intervals and keep beating until desired texture and taste is obtained (add more or less pulp as you prefer)

Assembling the Cake
1. Once the cake has cooled and is refrigerated, layer the cake. I cut the cake into 3 horizontal slices.
2. Apply mango cream on top of each layer as much as required and around the cake covering it in mango cream
3. Decorate with sliced strawberries, chocolate shavings, mango pulp etc as you prefer. Chill until serving.




I hope you all enjoyed reading about our March 29th :-) I had a lot of fun putting this post together and in the process I also got to know in depth the meaning and reasons behind our rituals and poojas.

I hope to be more regular at updating this space from now and I usually update my Facebook page with pics now and then when I don’t get time to update here, so join us there. We still have some more fantastic guest posts lined up…so stay tuned!

-Manju

55 comments:

  1. Awesome description :) heartiest congratulations to u guys....pics r very nice....hope to c a full view of ur home soon :)

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    1. Thank you cogent786...I have shared a sketch of the house in this post : http://manjuseatingdelights.blogspot.com/2013/03/fresh-farm-eggs-and-new-beginnings.html

      :)

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  2. Heartiest congratulations : ) pics r gr8 ...n description is awesome :)

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  3. Congrats Manju! have to say, u look sooo pretty!

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    1. Hi Ritty...so happy to see you here. Thanks a lot dear for the compliments :)

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  4. Congrats Manju! have to say, u look very pretty!

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  5. Congrats on your new home. May God give you happiness,peace, health, wealth and prosperity dear.

    Belated b'day to Manish. Hugs to lil kurumban Appus. N my blogger looks stunning in the nadan dress.

    Cake looks too good. Happy to read the write up.

    Good luck!!

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    1. Thank you dear Latha and I shall pass on ur b\lated bday wishes to Manish and hugs to Appu :)

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  6. Congrats Manju.. lovely cake.. cute son..

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  7. that is such a lovely post, with lot of details and pictures... the flower pics are the best... :)

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    1. thanks Rafeeda...flower pics are courtesy of Manish :)

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  8. congrats on the new home manju and you have described the process very nicely, not to mention how pretty you look in the set mundu :)

    coming to the cake..every mango season (or whatever little mango we get here) i plan on making a mango mousse cake, but it never happens. Since i do get pulp easily i think the mango cream is something i can actually try making. Hats off to you for doing such a fab job in between all the chaos.

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    1. Nisha, I was planning on a Mango mousse cake initially, just like the raspberry mousse I made last year....but got a bit lazy to do all that and the cream was the easiest and apparently the best option.

      Thanks for the compliments dear :)

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  9. Hearty Congratulations Manju!!
    Love the description and enjoyed reading them. Also the cake, OMG was such drool-worthy art :)
    You have such naughty and cute kid, lovely!! All the pics are looking great, especially the ones with your family and the traditional attires are lovely.
    Also the shot with the red shoo, is simply cute!

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    1. Thank you so much Pavithra , even I found the coconut scraps on my shoe funny and so I thought I'd take a snap and share with all...glad u found it cute :-) Thanks for all the compliments.

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  10. Congratulations once again, such lovely celebrations and a great way to celebrate too!

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  11. Congrats...Love the clicks..very beautiful..ur parents being here should really have been great for the ceremony na...Beautiful cake too..Hey u look very beautiful in the traditional saree..

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    1. Reshmi, ya my parents being here were a great help and we were glad they could make it here before the housewarming. Thanks for the compliments dear.

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  12. Lovely photos -You look absolutely stunning in the settu mundu - Appu is very cute!
    Congrats - now you are a house owner :)

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    1. yes Shema, Me a house owner now :-P thank you dear for the compliments :-)

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  13. Congrats Manju,you are simply gorgeous dear,thats wonderful to know even many miles apart still we are following our traditions na..lovely housewarming ceremony dear..Enjoy dear.

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    1. Thank a ton dear Priya, In fact I'm more curious now to know the meanings of all our traditions...if I was back home in India I don't think I would have cared so much.

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  14. Congratulations on your new home, Manju! I love unpacking into a new home (as long as it's bigger because it' easy to find room for everything). I bet you are so happy with your big kitchen. :) I loved all the housewarming rituals. The cake looks amazing and moist. Enjoy your new home my friend!! :)

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    1. I guess I would have loved the unpacking bit if I wasn't working all day in office and returning back home tired to start unpacking :-P But its fun to re-oragize stuff and also realise u had some stuff which u never realised existed in your home :-)

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  15. Congrats on your new home! Best to the little boy on his birthday! That's a beautiful cake too!

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    1. Thank u Apu, and by 'little boy' I hope u meant 'big boy' coz it was my hus's bday not my son's :-)

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  16. Congrats Manju,very detailed post mentioned & all rituals followed & am happy for your new home as well..Great to see your parents too,Enjoy your days !!
    BTW,The cake looks fabulous too :)

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  17. Lovely post Manju..enjoyed reading it..happy to see ur parents..I think u look like ur mum ..looking gorgeous in set Mundu..lil appu is looking ever so cute..oru house warming koodiyathu pole undu ithu vayichitu.cake looks yumm..how did u mange to bake one in middle of shifting..sammathichu thanu ketoo..

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    1. ya, everyone says I look like my mum :) thanks for the compliments Vinee!

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  18. Manju, first of all congrats on your new house. You look gorgeous in Settu Mundu. Appu looks so cute in his Sherwani. You did a great job with the cake in between all these happening :). Hey we do also have sprinkling of water..pallu kachu etc in our house warming too. It was really nice to read about your traditional way of house warming.

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  19. congratulations dear! cake looks fabulous

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  20. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the post dear.. U have all the details so well.. Esp the kalasham part, I was thinking 'Wow, it all makes sense now'.. I always used to wonder the significance !! And all the snaps are too good.. Lil Appu looks soo cute.. And u look gorgeous in the setum mundum :) And sooo thoughtful of u to bake in midst of all the hallabullah.. Touchwood, I am loving ur new house.. Looks fab :)

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    1. Thank u Chitz for all the compliments. I was very curious abt the Kalash , so directly asked the poojari what the significance was. He explained it well.

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  21. Congrats Manju..loved reading your post. Cake looks yumm!
    www.BlogExplore.com

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  22. nice post..
    heartiest congratulation to you..
    stunning pictures of you and your family..

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  23. Manju firstly congratulations, n the cake looks absolutely divine, mango being my favourite flavour in anything .... You are looking soooo lovely in the saree. God bless u

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  24. hi Manju..enjoyed going through all the snaps..great that u do get the time for cake and bake even at the nick of moments. by the way..you look gorgeous in the attire and you kid is soo cute :)

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  25. What a lovely celebration! You have so many blessings!

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  26. Congrats on your new home. The cake looks delicious. Kudos to you for taking the time to click and post pics amidst your busy schedule.

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  27. Lovely housewarming ceremony.....yummy cake....cute son....you looks good in set sari...nice to read about your traditional way of house warming celebration.
    www.thekitchenmagic.blogspot.com
    Sini

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  28. A beautiful cake! Congratulations.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures with us.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  29. I missed this post! Only after scrolling through your blog I came across this, such a beautiful write up and congrats on the move! your parents must be delighted to observe the ritual with u guys:-)

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  30. Good looking cake. Hope it is tasty too.

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  31. Congratulations on the house gal :) love the way you dressed up..

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  32. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!


    Shared Homam

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  33. I tried your mango cream recipe and it was really yummy...

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