Monday, March 26, 2012

Rava Cake

I truly vanished from the blogging scene. If one can say that I was ever on the scene at all. The reason for not posting much wasn't any kind of a conscious decision. Those few who read Evolving Notes know that the kitchen is still buzzing with action, even though I have gotten busier and busier over the months. I am packing lunches, trying to squeeze in quick healthy dinners every weekday, and trying out new things or baking on the weekends. What I do not have any more time for is taking pictures, whether good, bad, or ugly. I hardly ever have the few seconds between preparing a meal and sitting down to eat it, as right away I need to continue meetings with the other half of the world that comes in to work by then. That is just how my life has been, thanks to work, commute, and travel.

Several weeks ago, I was driving in the dark, after just another busy day, when I thought about the "rawa cake" that my sitter used to make as an afternoon snack. To this day, I count her among the best cooks whose food I have had the pleasure of eating. On most afternoons she would make some kind of snacks for everyone who was around. Her ghavans were legendary, her chaklis are still the best, and thanks to her weekly upwas, she instilled in me a lifelong fondness for sabudana khichadi.

It is inexplicable why I thought of her rava cake though. It wasn't among my most favorite things back then, but suddenly the memory of the taste had gripped me, and I wanted to make it as soon as I could. I asked a few trusted friends, and they gave me their family recipes, but since it was a specific taste that I was going after, I had to go to the source and call up the lady whom I have always called Aatya. She said she used equal parts of rava, dahi (plain yogurt), and sugar by volume, and some LoNi (home made butter), adding that they do like things on the sweet side. "What about ghee or oil?", I asked. "Ghee is fine, but not oil". (See later how I flouted her rules anyway). I asked her if she added anything else for flavor, like cardamom. "I don't add anything else, but why would that taste bad. You can add anything you like".

I made the cake right away, reducing the sugar a little. The simplicity of the taste was astounding, and the best news was that it tasted just like Aatya's!

Later, I got creative and made other versions of the cake, adding cardamom and saffron, lemon zest and lemon, and even a vegan version with soy yogurt, oil, and orange zest, and they were all good. Within the last couple of months, I have made this cake five times.

It holds a special place for me, and I wanted to share it with others. It also meets my blogging criteria of posting something that I have made multiple times and would want to make again and again.

Rava Cake / Semolina Cake

Semolina cake / Rava Cake / Ravyacha Cake


1 cup unroasted medium coarse or fine rava (can also use semolina or farina)
1 cup yogurt (regular or soy yogurt)
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons softened butter, ghee, or oil
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Optional : 2 cardamom pods powdered fine, and a small pinch of saffron


In a large bowl, mix the rava, yogurt, sugar, and butter, and mix everything with a large spoon, until all the ingredients are mixed well and a batter is formed. Let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Add the baking soda, and flavoring ingredients of choice, and stir everything again until completely mixed.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 X 8 inch square or 9 inch round glass or ceramic baking pan, and pour the batter evenly into it, using a spatula.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is just golden brown and springy to touch. Let it cool completely before turning it out of the pan.
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