Sunday, January 18, 2015

Semolina (Rava) savory cake - a game changer cake

Go HAWKS :-), after a nail biting game earlier today which I stayed away from watching (because the scores of 0-13, 0-16, 7-16, 7-19 is not really conducive to weak hearted HAWKS' fans :-)), but then it followed me wherever I went. First, it was the loud screams from downstairs that kept informing me the game was not going well for Seattle, then the little pre-teens in my class that kept looking at their Iphones and other phones for a glimpse of the latest score. As I phonily tried to discipline them and threatened to confiscate all electronic gadgets in the room, they entertained me with whispered exchange about the state of the game. And when it ended, I knew we had won just by looking at the gleeful faces :-). So not one to pass up on a chance to teach life lessons, I told my kids, "never give up, no matter how bad things may look".
If you follow football, this was a very shaky game played between two of the strongest teams and finally 4th quarter turned the tides over to favor the Hawks as the score climbed 14-19, 22-19 but ended with a tie at 22 when the clock ran out. Hey, wait, the clock didn't run out actually as the game went into overtime and hawks turned it over with a touch down in overtime to finish with 28-22 :-). Every time I watch a foot ball game, I think how untrue everything I have ever learnt about time is. You have heard the saying, "you can't hold the time in your fist", but that is what literally happens during a ball game. They stop the clock every couple of minutes and if you are sitting in your living room sofa, you will be flooded with advertisements. So a game of  '60 play time minutes' converts into '2.5-3 real time hours' :-). Who said that 'time & tide wait for none'?

What has football got to do with a food blog? I know, it seems far fetched but hear me out. Just like the game changers in today's game, today's recipe is also a game changer in its own way. If you always related a cake to a sweet in your head (I did, until I came across this recipe), here is something that will surprise you pleasantly. This is a savory cake, and made with semolina (or Rave/sooji as we Indians like to call it) and loaded with vegetables and spices that makes it a perfect breakfast or snack recipe. You can munch on it without the guilt factor and also feel extremely gratified that you had your daily quota of vegetables while enjoying a slice of this cake. This is a moist & light cake, that is to something for a cake made with nothing but 2 Tbsp of oil making up the only fat content. Win-win :-).
I had seen this recipe on many blogs and had head marked (not bookmarked unfortunately so I can call out the blogs by name), that is another thing, sometimes when a recipe catches my attention, I head mark it thinking I will definitely remember it. Loss is mine when I don't but sometimes they get rooted so much in the head that I will get it out ultimately, no promises though on how close it is to the original recipe. Here is what happened recently, I had honestly forgotten about this recipe but then when I was browsing the internet, I came across this little video on BBC food that had Anjum Anand making a savory semolina cake. That name struck a chord and I went into the kitchen immediately to whip up my own slightly modified version of the recipe. The original recipe adds uncooked/raw vegetables directly into the batter, but I slightly sauteed them before adding them in. Also, I like my green beans chopped finely instead if the inch long as in the original. Last, I added my love of life in kitchen - onions, chopped and sauteed along with some green, spicy chilies.
Something in the way she bakes it in a loaf pan was intriguing and instead of what I would have done, I used a loaf pan too. It is just easier to cut into slices. But you can very well use a cake pan or even a bundt pan to bake this deliciously savory cake. Rich in vegetables and topped with sesame, this reminds you of the Gujarati Handvo but the taste is very different and a surprise winner. Second time, I made a healthier version with cracked wheat but the verdict was to stick to the semolina version since the other one was crumbly and didn't really stay true to being a 'slice' :-). I have a plan for the next time though, I will get the finest textured cracked wheat and may be grind it up a little bit to make it finer, nobody will be any wiser. I will come back and update the blog post when I get to it.
What do you need to make Semolina cake?
1 cup fine sooji/rava/semolina
1 cup whisked plain yogurt
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp sugar
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
1 Tsp sesame seeds
2-3 green chilies - finely chopped
1 inch piece ginger - peeled and grated
2 Tbsp green frozen peas
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated bottle gourd (optional)
1/2 cup grated bell pepper (of any color, optional)
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tsp baking soda
How do you make Semolina cake?
  • Take semolina in a large bowl, add salt, sugar and grated ginger and mix well. 
  • Add yogurt and mix well. Keep aside for atleast 20 minutes for it to soak the yogurt and become fluffy. 
  • In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F
  • Heat a pan on medium heat, add mustard and let it pop. 
  • Add chopped green chilies and asafoetida and fry for about 20 seconds, do not burn the chilies. 
  • Add chopped onion and let it sweat and become limp. 
  • Add grated carrots, bottle gourd and green peas and cook for couple of minutes until the vegetables turn soft. 
  • Switch off and add it to the semolina bowl along with chopped cilantro and give a good mix. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • Prepare a loaf pan (I used mini pans and hence spread the batter into 2 of them) with a baking spray. 
  • Add baking soda and give a good mix to avoid baking soda forming lumps (believe me when I say you don't want baking soda bursts in your mouth :-))
  • Spoon out the batter into the baking dish, top it with sesame seeds (be generous if you like sesame) and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top gets a hint of brown and a knife comes out clean. 
  • Let it cool outside the oven for 15 minutes before sliding the loaf onto a plate, use a sharp knife to cut slices and enjoy with any chutney, dip etc 
  • You can add finely chopped green beans to your set of vegetables. 
  • Chopped fenugreek will make a great flavor agent too. 
  • The batter consistency is that of thick idli batter, adjust yogurt or add a spoon or two of water. 
  • Add upto 2 cups of vegetables to 1 cup of semolina. 
  • If your frozen peas are hard and big (I get Deep brand sometimes which needs a little precooking), microwave in a bowl of water for 5 minutes to make it softer. American brand peas are ready to use directly. 
  • Baking soda can be replaced by Eno fruit salt. 
  • Add red chili powder for extra spice. 
Making the semolina cake healthier: 
  • Use fine textured cracked wheat instead of semolina if you are avoiding processed foods. 
  • This will need a little bit more yogurt as it absorbs liquid, adjust to get the right consistency. 
  • It is important to let the cracked wheat soak in yogurt for atleast an hour before you use it. 
  • This will have a more crumbly texture compared to the semolina version, let it cool down completely before slicing. 

1 comment:

NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful write up about time and foot
ball match . mouth watering recipe.