9 August 2007
A healthy cake in 15 minutes
Whenever I see a dessert recipe whose ingredient list does not feature sugar and a gazillion calories worth of butter, I almost try it out on the same day...firstly too see if it would still taste good and secondly, it is quite difficult to resist such a recipe. When I chanced upon a steamed 'rava' (semolina) - banana cake, it seemed too good to be true. When my newly married cousin in Bangalore tried it out and gave me a really bright green signal, I had to try this out. Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes has something similar on her blog, an authentic Goan recipe sent to her by a reader, but her recipe uses sugar instead of jaggery.
I've made slight modifications to the original recipe, in terms of microwaving the batter instead of steaming, and I did it on a trial and error basis, because my kitchen doesn't have a big enough steamer to take the whole batter in one go.
Using the microwave for this recipe did seem to have its advantages:
1. Lesser cooking time (7 minutes as against 25 minutes of steaming)
2. Lesser cleaning up - just one microwave safe dish other than the wok used to mix ingredients
3. Even your kids can handle the recipe from the assembled-ingredients stage
Semolina-Banana-Coconut Cake (No bake)
Time taken - Under 15 minutes
Serves 6-8 people or more
Category - Healthy dessert, Festival food, Neivedyam
1-2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter, see notes) If you don't have this, use unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup semolina (buy the finer of the varieties)
3/4 cup jaggery (see notes)
3 bananas - medium sized
1 pack thick coconut milk (I used Dabur's 200 ml pack)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1. Grease a 9" or so microwave safe flatware with some ghee on your fingertips. Keep aside.
2. In a blender / mixer, place the 3 peeled bananas with the jaggery, make a smooth paste and keep aside.
3. Heat the remaining ghee in a heavy bottomed wok, put in the semolina. On medium to low flame, constantly stir it around until it turns lightly golden. This part requires your full attention for 5-7 minutes and the slightest burnt semolina will spoil the taste of the cake.
4. Once the semolina turns golden, turn flame to lowest possible, pour in the banana-jaggery paste, stir till it is nearly absorbed by the semolina. This will take 30 seconds to a minute. Take the wok off the flame.
5. In a jug, whisk well the coconut milk, water, salt, baking powder, cardamom powder and pour it into the semolina mix in the wok. Stir well till ingredients are blended through.
6. Pour this mix into the greased microwave safe dish. Garnish with any nuts /dried fruits or candied fruit to make it more appealing to kids.
7.Microwave at 100% for 5 minutes. Check the degree to which the cake is cooked and then depending on that microwave at 80% for 2 minutes or so. Remove, cool and cut into squares /diamonds.
8. Serve warm.
This cake needs to be refrigerated because of its coconut milk content which may go rancid if left out for longer time. You can warm it by nuking it for 20 seconds or so. It makes an excellent dessert idea for the tiffin box for your kid or your spouse.
Jaggery is known to be rich in iron because of the huge iron vessels in which it is processed, hence better that sugar which is just empty calories. Diabetics, please be informed that eating jaggery does nothing better than sugar for your blood sugar levels as they both have the same glycemic index - calorie-wise and carbohydrate-wise, both are nearly the same. If you have to choose between the two, jaggery is just a slightly better choice because its more natural and nutritive than plain sugar.
1. You will find jaggery, rava and ghee in any store selling Indian groceries.
You can also make ghee at home from unsalted butter - instructive posts here, here & here.
2. In case you do not have a microwave, you can surely steam this cake as per original recipe's instructions.
3. A lighter coloured jaggery will yield a paler cake and a dark brown jaggery will give you the rich brownier one. If you do not find jaggery, by all means use brown sugar or even white sugar.
4. My cousin tried this with whole wheat flour instead of semolina and said the results were as good. Just increase the baking powder a tad bit.
5. Try it out with spices of your choice. I love the taste of cardamom and hence it found its place in this recipe. You could try out cinnamon or clove powder or even all spice powder.
6. This quick recipe can also fit into the 'Neivedyam' category, which is the offering to Gods made in most Indian homes for festivals and auspicious days as it has no eggs. And from what I hear, most Indian Gods and Goddesses love jaggery as well as bananas :) , and we love them for that.
(This was written for the Family-Lifestyle blog Daily Tiffin)