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A Bahrain-based chef has had one of her recipes selected for a global collection of home baking recipes that will raise money for worthy causes.
Baker Ekta Sethi, who grew up in India and the Gulf, is contributing her recipe for cookie brittle to the Healthy Baking Book, compiled by Simran Multani and Samira Pillai.
Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Lets Educate Children In Need (LECIN) and The Freedom Project, which works to help survivors of human trafficking and improve conditions for children in India’s slum settlements.
“I like to create recipes that are healthy and eggless, so that everyone can enjoy them,” the 44-year baker and former engineer told us.
“I always have a creative and artistic side and loved cooking growing up. But I decided to follow my parents’ advice and got a degree in electrical engineering from the Punjab Engineering College.
“My passion for cooking and baking never abated, however. Even in college, I used to create some of my fancy dishes for friends and family, learning from whatever cookbooks I could get my hands on.”
Ekta walked away from a successful engineering career to pursue her passion for creative baking and has been blending her cultural background with her charitable endeavours ever since.
The mother-of-two has won numerous baking competitions, being especially recognised for her desserts and her most recent passion - fusion cakes.
“Fusion cakes are trending these days and are especially admired by people who love Indian sweets,” she added.
“For example, the Rasmalai cake has proven to be an instant hit.
“This is a delicious mouth-watering option with layers of sponges soaked in clotted cream, and rasmalai (a classic Indian dessert made with milk, sugar and saffron) with lots of pistachio and green cardamom to enhance the flavour.
“I have lost count of the number of Rasmalai cakes I have baked in the last five years!”
Ekta has honed her baking skills with Soha Ahmed, a renowned Kuwait-based baker, Sarita Banerjee, and took a course with Le Cordon Bleu in the French capital of Paris.
After moving to Bahrain from Kuwait, Ekta brought over her home baking business called Saisha’s Sweet Treats, which earned its name from one she had originally reserved for her daughter.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, she started ‘Bake with Ekta’ to help others make delicious and healthy choices from the safety of their own homes.
She added: “I am trying to come up with recipes that use healthy flours and healthy forms of sugar. Refined flours and sugars are extremely bad for your health.
“Covid-19 times have made people realise the importance of healthy living. I feel it is the responsibility of the baker to spread awareness about healthier options along with the normal choices available.
“l totally believe each one of us can make a difference; we must inspire each other to follow healthy food habits.”
She plans on continuing baking and helping those in need, with a dream of one day opening her own cooking training studio where she can help others also hone their skills in the kitchen and train those with special needs, free of cost.
During the pandemic, she baked and decorated cupcakes with her son Aarav,seven, and daughter Vaani, five, which were sold in their compound, with proceeds going to the Indian Community Relief Fund (ICRF).
She is hoping to continue her charity work by teaching and working with children at the Alrahma Centre and the Smile of Bahrain initiative.
For more details, follow @bake.with.ekta.at.saishas and @saishas_sweet_treats on Instagram.