The arrival of the Jamun season announces itself with little purple stains on my car around the months of May – June. These berries that are native to India and are falsely translated as Indian blackberries, are packed with all the good stuff to lower your glycemic index, so it’s a tad bit ironic that I’ve folded them into this moist buttermilk loaf cake. And yes, these Jamuns are from the trees that surround Dad’s office, where a brave soul made his way up the tree and gently shook the branches to nudge the Jamuns to fall off on to a cloth spread on the ground below. In fact, this cake seems like a bit of a family collaboration to me – Papa brought the Jamun; I borrowed my aunt’s original recipe with blueberries and adapted it; and the cake was devoured by a hungry household that consisted of the usual suspects plus some who are visiting for the summer holidays.
My aunt in California bakes this cake with blueberries, so if you can’t find Jamun around you, feel free to swap in some blueberries instead. A cherry pitter would have made de-seeding the jamun so much easier, but I can’t seem to find anyone who stocks it in Mumbai. Not to be deterred by the lack of a tool, I used a paring knife and cut the jamun in half and pulled out the seed. My batch of jamuns were a bit plump, so I’ve cut each jamun into four to make for tiny bite-sized pieces when you eat the cake.
Buttermilk adds just the right amount of tang to compliment the sweetness of the batter and makes the cake really soft. Don’t have any buttermilk in your refrigerator? No problem! Just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk, stir it gently and let it rest for a couple of minutes. In a matter of minutes, the milk would have curdled and would be acidic enough to add to the batter. This cake pairs really well with tea and coffee, and if you do manage any leftovers, it’s a great cake to snack on too!
Serves 6 to 8.