Learning to travel to London, UK

Flashback a few months before my day of travel –  I had received necessary papers from my husband in London, to join him. At that time, I had to go to Bombay (Mumbai now) from Madras (Chennai now) to the British High Commission to get my visa to join my husband. We were staying in my husband’s aunt’s home. My mom came with me since I had the baby with me so she could help me with him while I was interviewing at the visa office. I was told to go for my medical before the process and went to Breach Candy Hospital recommended by British High Commission. Went there, very intimidating building, didn’t know hospitals could look so palatial and “sophisticated”. Never been inside a hospital before; not sure how the system worked. I had my son in a small birthing clinic near my home.

Had albumin in my urine test (was told I was dehydrated) and was asked to take lots of fluids for the day and come back the next day to repeat the test.

My aunt told me to take lots of coconut water to reduce the dehydration the whole evening and night and passed the test next day without any problems. Whew!!!!!! went to the High commission got my approved visa. My aunt took me around showed me what the diapers (called nappies in UK) were, bought some and also showed me different things to take with me for my air travel. I felt that it was all information overload for an air journey and was getting extremely nervous even 2 months prior to actual trip. Learnt how to tie a nappy after coming home but then went back to not using it at all. Nappy was something way in the future; plenty of time to get used to when I moved, I thought. Why bother with it now and torture my baby with the contraption. Kids are trained earlier in south India, but then because of high temperatures year around in Madras, easy to manage without a nappy. My cousin who had traveled on a plane before, told me stewardesses on flights would help  me with diapers, or getting milk whenever needed and so I was telling myself that it won’t be that bad traveling on a flight.

Got back home and celebrated my son’s 1st birthday (my husband missed it), a  big religious celebration and lots of gifts to use in London for the baby.

bharat My husband’s brother and his family were visiting us and brought with them (being from North of Delhi) clothes appropriate to take with me to London. He is wearing one of those hooded jacket and full pants made of fur-like fabric, in the hot midday sun (probably around 95-100 F) to take a picture. He was extremely uncomfortable and cried until I took the clothes off. We were playing dress-up with all the new London-appropriate clothes and taking pictures. this was taken when he was 9-months old.

There was no new-born screening for Metabolic disorders so he was not diagnosed at birth for his metabolic condition. Being a vegetarian, I was feeding him mostly plant-based diet. Even though he was consuming cow’s milk and yogurt they were not in big quantities since he was still breast fed partially when he was one. His doctor before we left for London wishing us well in the new country, explained to me that milk was available in different varieties such as skim milk, whole milk etc. He was also encouraging me to feed him cheese and eggs which were not part of our diet in India

While in India my son never showed any symptoms of any kind of illness, in fact he had gone thru’ the age appropriate milestones like cruising and crawling and even starting to stand up and walk a few steps holding on to something. He was eating steamed vegetables like potatoes, green beans etc and some cooked rice with couple of spoons of yogurt, but he was on cow’s milk as well. without showing any ill side-effects. He was even starting to babble a lot and say a few words like “dada” “mama” , etc.

Little did I know it was all going to change drastically within a year after reaching London.


Our story

I was sitting on the floor in the middle of what I would call  – Chaos,  only way to describe it I suppose. The year was 1983 and it was May when Bharat, our son and I were scheduled to leave India to join my husband, Ram.  I was packing all the essentials – to start our lives in London, UK. Ram had already left 3 months prior, to start his Post doctoral studies at Queen Mary College, part of University of London. He had written via snail mail (those were the days without internet – horrors), that he was setting up house so we could land there and smoothly transition to that life with a one year old baby (gulp!!!!). Ram had warned when he reached there that it was unbearably cold, and it would be horrible to get there during that time coming from a tropical place, Chennai, India where all we had experienced was hot, hotter and hottest “climate” in a year. We had not experienced any distinct changes in the seasons, and I had no clue what it would feel like moving to a colder place, experience the snow……

The day was moving really fast, I thought, other than any other day, since everyone that we had known were dropping by to see both me and my son, Bharat to say “safe travels”. And then give me some advice about what to do when I get “there”, how to manage “there”, even though 99 % of them or may be all of them, have never left India. They had “advise” galore which made me even more nervous… on top of already having butterflies in my stomach……. I had packed a few Indian saris, some fancy ones as well, for the parties we were going to attend; everybody said that’s how it was in England all the time. Yes, those who had never left India, told me and were re-arranging my suitcase. I was numb watching everything happening around me as though I was having an out of body experience, totally removed from everything, nodding my head periodically whenever it sounded like someone was giving me an advice but nothing was sinking in fully. Life was about to get way more interesting….

things going thru’ my mind at that time…..

How do I manage travelling with my one-year old son on an airplane ? How would it feel to fly; Will I be able to sleep on the flight ? how do I sleep with my son with me?? These thoughts were nothing compared to what life was in store for me once I got “there”.

Little did I know I would be going on a journey that would alter our lives in a tremendously uncompromising way. Little did I know that me, who has never had a chance to cook a meal has to manage my son’s diet that would help him survive. I didn’t even know that people in other parts of the world had different types of cuisines. “Foreign” countries were in my thinking so far away and so far removed that I haven’t had clear understanding of how other cultures lived. The only time I had seen foreigners were when we watched international cricket matches on Television, which in itself was a new thing in many households in the 1980s. People used to go to watch the telly in neighbors or friends home which was quite the norm.

I grew up having a very sheltered life. Straight out of high school joined the University to do my Bachelor’s degree, in Chemistry, traveling every day in a “Ladies Special” bus to and from my college; getting there in the morning just before the classes started and catch the bus right outside the campus, right after the classes and coming back straight home. Never knew anything else, except studying and traveling to university on time and back. I never even thought about taking extra money in my book bag other than bus pass and that’s it.

Becoming a member and going to the library with my friend (American library close to my college) during a Saturday morning once in a blue moon was a very exciting trip. Spending the morning there browsing thru’ some books not related to my degree, reading romance novels were thrills of my life. I felt as though these things were adventures that I hadn’t imagined would happen to me when I was in high school. Traveling by myself on a public bus (no Ladies Special buses on the weekends) was great thrill.

I traveled via train in the final year of my degree alone from Chennai to Mumbai (roughly 750 miles), to visit my aunt, and it was again an unusual experience for me and my family. It took 2 days by train (women’s special “carriage” only) and everyone in my family were worried sick what was going to happen to me, a girl, traveling alone in a train. I was the black sheep (a girl black sheep, no less) who dared to travel alone at my age ( I was 17). Having all these rare experiences of “travel” and then suddenly at the age of 22, I was taking my son alone on a flight to London, UK, to join my husband. WoW!!!!!! Adventure begins!!!!!!!

how to make tortillas

Taste Connections Tortillas


TC Multi-baking mix 2 ½ cups
Taco seasoning (optional) ½ tsp
Water ½ – ¾ cups (enough to make dough)
Combine the baking mix and the seasoning, if adding, in a bowl; add enough water to make a stiff dough.
Knead for 3 – 5 minutes to be soft enough to roll into circles.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
Using a rolling pin roll each ball into a thin tortilla (dusting corn starch so that the dough doesn’t stick), approximately measuring 8 – 9 inches in diameter.


Please view a short video on rolling tortilla dough in a post below.
Heat a griddle or a frying pan and cook one tortilla at a time. Place one rolled tortilla on the hot pan and cook for 30 seconds on one side.

Turn it to the other side and cook on the other side until small bubbles appear on the surface. After this step you could finish cooking the tortillas in 2 ways
1. Repeat the cooking and turning processes until both the sides of the tortilla are covered with small bubbles that indicate the tortilla is cooked.  Remove from the pan and spread the cooked tortilla with melted margarine or vegetable oil keep it covered in a cloth towel or a tortilla warmer.

2. You could then cook directly on an open flame as seen in the picture below. The tortilla will bubble up like a balloon within 5-6 seconds. Using a tong remove from the flame before it burns. This cooks the tortilla from inside out and keeps it moist and pliable for a very long time.


Cook all the tortillas similarly and keep them wrapped in a cloth towel. Makes 12 tortillas.
The tortilla can be cooked in an electric tortilla press or flatbread maker
KCAL    PROTgm     PHEmg     METmg      LEUmg
Per Recipe    1050      0.9            27.5         5.8             50
Per tortilla      87.5    0.08            2.3          0.5             4.2

Mini bread bowls


1 cup warm water (225ml )
1 tsp brown sugar
1 package (1 Tbsp.) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups(350 gms) TC Bread Mix
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil ( I use extra virgin olive oil for great flavor)
Herbs of choice
½ tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp tomato sauce

Combine in a small bowl ½ cup warm water, dry yeast and the brown sugar, and mix well. Leave it to get frothy, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine garlic powder, crushed oregano,
TC-Bread mix, 1 Tbsp olive oil, tomato sauce and frothy yeast mixture. Adding more warm water, beat with a wooden spoon or dough hook until mixture forms uniform sticky dough. Transfer to a greased bowl and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
When the dough has risen once for 20 minutes, gather the dough and knead for a minute to get rid of the air. Divide the dough into 25 balls (the size of a small lime) and shape them into mini rolls. Leave them to rise for approximately 20 – 30 minutes or until well risen to double the size. Bake them in a preheated oven at 400 deg F for 8 minutes. Make a dimple in the center of the rolls by slitting the top open and add 1/2 teaspoon of filling of your choice (filling suggestions below). Re-bake the rolls in the oven for 3-5 more minutes until the filling is heated through and the rolls are turned golden brown.
FILLING: Your favorite pizza topping veggies with tomato sauce.
Per Recipe 1722 4.06 182 70 350
Nutrient information roll varies according to how many rolls are made from the dough.



Using the TC Brownie Mix from Taste Connections Online Store


 TC-BROWNIE MIX  350 G ( 3 ¼ CUPS)


Take 350 g (weighing is more accurate than measuring in cups) – which is approximately 3 ¼ cups of the mix. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, ¼ cup oil and 3/4 cups of water. Beat vigorously with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. The batter should be of cake batter consistency. If not, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until you get a cake batter consistency. (3/4 cups may be adequate). You could either spread in a 9-inch square pan that has been sprayed with Pam or you could add to Pam-sprayed mini muffin pans (2/3 full for each depression). The batter should fill at least 24 mini muffin pans. Bake in a preheated 350 deg oven for 15- 22 minutes depending on which pan you are using for baking or when tested with a skewer it should have no sticky batter. Let sit in the pan for 3-4 mins before cooling on a wire rack.



The Phe content for the whole recipe  – 38.5 mg.

Protein content– less than 1 g

Phe content varies for each piece with how many squares you cut out if using square pan or how many mini muffins you bake.



Valentine’s Day Zebra Cake – made in 30 minutes


This cake is so easy to bake !!!!!!

I made it with one recipe TC-Brownie mix and one recipe TC-Cake mix. The recipes are simple and come with the mixes you buy.


Make the batter for the cake mix according to directions (I used lemon cake mix) and transfer to a Quart size Ziptop bag and zip.

Make the batter for the brownie mix according to directions but add more water than what the recipe says, to make the consistency same as the cake batter mix. Transfer to another Quart size ziptop bag and zip.

Preheat oven to 350 ° F. Prepare a round 9″ cake pan by spraying with oil spray and line with parchment paper and spray again.

Snip one bottom corner of the bags so you could squeeze the batter on the cake pan working with one batter at a time.

Add a small drop of either batter in the center of the pan (size of a quarter coin). Add same amount of the other batter in the center of the previous color. Continue repeating these two batters alternatively, always adding them in the center. The batter will spread toward the edge of the cake pan forming striped rounds.

If the pan is not on even surface the batter may start to slide toward one side of the pan. If that happens keep rotating the pan so the circles are more or less even.

Repeat until all the batter is finished squeezing the zip bag to use up all the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20- 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 8-10 mins and then turn out on a cooling rack and cool completely.

If desired the cake can be sliced in half horizontally and spread with strawberry or raspberry jelly. In order to showcase the stripes on top frosting the side of the cake would be better and just a small swirl of frosting on top would look great!!        Enjoy!!!!!!!!



1                                  2                                  3                                              4

1. Starting the batter: batter being added in the center always

2. Half the amount of batter in the pan

3. Both the batters in the cake pan

4. Baked cake cooled and a wedge sliced out.

  KCAL PRO g PHE mg TYR mg MET mg LEU mg ILE mg VAL mg
Per recipe 1586.1 1.0 35.8 22.8 7.5 61.8 29.6 42.6
  KCAL PRO g PHE mg TYR mg MET mg LEU mg ILE mg VAL mg
Per recipe 1650 1.0   63 22 7 85 48 50



variety2 trees-on-tray


Taste connections (TC) Holiday cookies

½ Cup(100g or 1 stick) butter

1 jar TC-Holiday cookie mix (475 g)

Water to make stiff dough (4 Tablespoons or more, as needed )

In mixing bowl, add butter and beat well until fluffy. Add the mix and beat thoroughly. Add water slowly until you get a stiff dough*.  Pat the dough into a disc and cover with saran wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

  1. CUT-OUT COOKIES: Roll out the dough (use cornstarch to help roll out) to ¼ inch thick and cut into Christmas shapes such as tree, stockings, etc. Place on an ungreased baking pan and freeze it for 15-20 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375º F and rotate the pan from front to back and bake for 3-4 more minutes or until the edges start to brown slightly. Cool on a wire rack. You can use the Ready- made frosting from supermarkets (Betty Crockers or Duncan Hines brand vanilla or White frosting). Spread a little on top, sprinkle with coarse colored sugar and leave on cooling rack to set overnight. The frosting will harden and the cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container for several days.
  2. ORANGE SUGAR COOKIES: Add 1 teaspoon of orange zest when making the dough. Roll into walnut size balls, and flatten. Sprinkle with colored coarse sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375º F and rotate the pan from front to back and bake for 3-4 more minutes or until the edges start to brown slightly. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. LEMON ROUNDS: make the cookies as in sugar cookies and use lemon zest instead of orange and cool. Mix wll 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar, 2 Tablespoon any preferred colored decorating sugar, and 3 Tablespoons lemon juice and beat well. Spread ½-1 tsp on the cooled cookies.
  4. WINDOW PANE COOKIES: Make the cookie dough and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough (use cornstarch to help roll out) to ¼ inch thick and cut into Christmas shapes such as tree, stockings, etc. Cut out smaller shapes from the cut-out shapes. Place on ungreased baking pan and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Bake or 6-8 minutes at 375º F, sprinkle the centers with crushed hard candies and bake until melted, probably 4-5 minutes. (finer the candy pieces, quicker they melt and form the windows)
  5. MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES: Make the cookie dough and shape into small ball (walnut size).. Chill for 30 minutes or longer (when baked the cookies should not spread too much and retain round ball shape mostly; freezing helps maintain the shape). Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375º F and rotate the pan from front to back and bake for 3-4 more minutes or until the edges start to brown slightly. Cool mostly and then toss in confectioner’s sugar.
  6. SANDWICH COOKIES: Make cookies as in orange sugar cookies and cool. Sandwich with jam or frosting between 2 cookies and let set.
  7. SUGAR EDGES: make the lemon rounds dough and chill. Mix ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1 Tablespoon lemon zest in a processor. Roll the dough into 2 or 3 1-inch round logs and roll in the lemon sugar. Freeze the logs for 15-20 minutes and then slice into 1-inch thick pieces. Place on ungreased baking pan and chill for 15 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen rolled-out cookies and more or less cut out cookies depending on the shape.

Hint: * Add water slowly until you get really stiff dough. If it is too stiff and dry to form the dough add extra water, ½ teaspoon at a time until you get the right consistency. Using an electric mixer speeds up the beating process and also uses less water than if you beat with wooden spoon and gather the dough by hand.

Nutrient information:

                                          Kcal                prot(g)            phe(mg)          met(mg)          leu

per cookie                   102.8               0.06                 3.2                       1.2                     6.2

(hand rolled – 24)

Per cookie

(frosted)                       110                  0.06                 4                          2                            8

The New Blog



My Name is Malathy and my online store is called tasteconnections.com.

I have many more experiences out there and I want to share them with you.

Follow along with my new Blog for Updates, Changes, Food and Travel.


Feel free to comment on what you see and read.

About Malathy Ramanujam

Malathy Ramanujam graduated from University of Madras, India, in 1980, with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She joined her husband in London, U.K., in 1983. In 1984, her son was diagnosed at the age of two with a rare metabolic condition called Homocystinuria and started on a very strict diet. She moved to the United States with her family in 1989.


The treatment of Homocystinuria also requires a special diet similar to PKU. Since there were not many options available for his diet she started experimenting with the limited resources to formulate various baking mixes and use them to prepare special meals for her son. Since 1994, she has been teaching families with similar metabolic condition how to prepare special meals. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Studies major) from Cal State, Dominguez Hills in spring 1999. She created the website www.lowprotein.com in 2000 to share her recipes with everyone. She pursued Master’s degree in Nutritional Science in Fall 2000. She graduated (Fall, 2004) in the top 1 % of the graduating class (included in the Dean’s List). She started her company, Taste Connections in 2003 with just two kinds of mixes, TC-Bread Mix and TC-Multibaking mix. When she started her company she had 4 main goals- to make “Just Add Water” kind of mixes that are easy to use; to make them as inexpensive with a high quality of taste with minimum number of additional common ingredients; to make products that don’t have any artificial preservative, artificial colors or flavors; each mix should make various food products.

Over the years, she has added other products such as TC-Versa Mix, TC-Brownie Mix, cake mixes, Popping tapioca and ready-made cookies, Quick breads, Gift baskets that could be customized to different occasions and most recently low-protein breads, rolls, pizza crust, etc that are freshly baked and shipped out immediately.


She has been presenting workshops since 1994 on low protein cooking around the United States and Canada and still continues to do so, inspiring metabolic patients to stay on such life-saving diet.


She was one of the parents who had testified in a hearing during California’s Newborn Genetic Screening Policymaker’s Symposium in the Capitol, Sacramento, March 2004. She is also a trained Resource Mother and is a member of California Coalition for PKU and Allied Disorders.