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.


Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

ET - yummy cake... I have tried several things from your blog, whether I came back and commented or not... One more on my list to try! I like the simplicity of what you post! I dont have the time to make complicated things , love this!

Anjali Koli said...

Good to see this post ET and this was my Mom's speciality but unlike me she used to steam it and it always tasted divine.

sra said...

My kind of cake - no beating, separating, folding. It reminds me of the chena poda one sees all over Orissa - I don't think any flour goes into it but it's all sweet and crusty!

evolvingtastes said...

Somu, try it. It is similar to the Mango cake in some ways. And yes, I do like to make simple things without compromising on taste.

Anjali, indeed it was quite a popular thing to make back in the seventies, right? Even though I bake a lot of different things now, this cake was nostalgia at its best.

Sra, it is stir and bake; super easy. It doesn't even need an oven. Aatya used to make it on the stove top, with layers of sand beneath the pan and above it. Quite different from chenna poda though, which is mostly dairy. Mmmmmm chenna poda, now you have triggered memories of a trip to Orissa from decades ago.

Unknown said...

I have never before heard of a ravyacha cake, and it sounds and looks so good. I'll try it with soy yogurt-- good to know that's worked for you.
Nice to read about your sitter. Those childhood flavors stick forever, don't they? I cannot remember what I last ate at a restaurant, but I can still remember the taste of the kofta curry my aatya, Akka, used to make for Diwali each year. :) said...

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evolvingtastes said...

Thanks Vaishali, so true!

Archana said...

Nice to have you back. Love this cake. Remember amma making it. Loved it then. Never made it myself. Will do so now.

Poornima said...

Oh its so good to see you blogging again. Hopefully it will continue!Nice cake.

MizThreefivesix said...

Nice to see you are posting again, what a busy life you lead!
I like semolina very much and will try your cake out soon.
By the way, the place in Bavaria I mentioned is called Bad Feilnbach, a little spa town near the Alps, near Rosenheim.

evolvingtastes said...

Archana, thanks. It was quite a popular cake back in those days, and I know many people who remember their moms and grandmoms making it.

Poornima, I hope so too! I will try for sure.

365 Tage, I have been to Munich and Bavaria before, and would love to go visit again!

Unknown said...

Hi ET, I am a big fan of your blog. It's nice to have you back
And thanks for posting this. I remember my aajji used to make this cake and I used to love eating it after coming from school.

evolvingtastes said...

Radhika, thanks for your kind words, and welcome here!

Spice up the Curry said...

rawa cake looks really delicious. I have never tried this type of cake before. you have nice recipe collections here

evolvingtastes said...

'Spice up the Curry', thank you, and welcome to my blog.

Mints! said...

ET, this is my mom's and her mom's specialty too. I have fond memories of this one :)

evolvingtastes said...

Thanks Mints. This was such a popular treat when we were growing up, wasn't it?

Home Mantra said...

Hi ET, thanks for finding me! I have linked to your blog now :)

Anonymous said...

ET, thanks for this recipe. I made it yesterday as part of a South Indian meal for a friend. Served with some coconut cream, it was delicious!

This recipe is a keeper, simply because it has none of the 'stickiness' of AP flour (or is it just me?). So, thanks very much again!

evolvingtastes said...

chronicworrier, hey, that is me! A chronic worrier I mean. :) Glad you stopped by to let me know. Yes, the rava gives it a certain sponginess that you wouldn't get from plain flour. Thanks!

Unknown said...


Do we add baking soda and then wait for oven to preheat? Or should it be preheated first and as soon as it is ready, add baking soda to batter, mix and put immediately in the oven? I need to make this cake today. Please let me know.

evolvingtastes said...

Either is ok, as it is such a forgiving cake, and the baking soda will not lose potency in a few minutes. My preference would be stir in the baking soda towards the end, approximately while you are preheating. That will give you enough time to stir it in, grease your pan, pour the batter into your pan, etc.

Unknown said...

This cake is awesome. I tried it y'day. I made vegan version- used soy yogurt and oil. I sprinkled saffron, powdered pistachio and almond mixture on the top of the batter and then baked it. Both my husband's and my grand mom used to make this cake without oven. We both loved it. Next time, I will double the recipe since I have 9X9 inch pan.
Thanks a bunch.

evolvingtastes said...

I am so glad to hear that the vegan cake turned out well for you! Feedback like this is always gratifying

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