Semolina is a coarse grain derived from durum wheat. In India, it’s known simply as “sooji” or “rava”. Rava or sooji is easily available in every Indian grocery store and comes in coarse, fine and superfine varieties. For this particular recipe, any variety will work but the textures will vary depending upon which variety of rava/sooji is used. It’s basically a matter of personal preference.
This is a wonderful recipe for vegetarians since this delicious cake contains absolutely no eggs. It can also be made well in advance and is just perfect for entertaining.
If you don’t have semolina, you can always use good old Cream of Wheat or Farina. It works just as well and tastes great (just buy the PLAIN instant, 1 minute or 2˝ minute varieties).
SWEET SEMOLINA CAKE: (Rava chi Cake)
1˝ cups rava or sooji (you can also use Cream of Wheat or farina)
1˝ cups sugar, to taste
1˝ cups plain yogurt
1 stick melted unsalted butter or ghee (˝ cup)
1 cup milk (2% is fine)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of cardamom powder
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
˝ tsp almond extract (or vanilla extract or even orange extract will work well too)
1 cup toasted/unsalted nuts such as cashew, almond or pistachio pieces
˝ cup of raisins
cooking spray to lightly grease the baking dish (or you can use butter or ghee)
seasonal fruit (berries, peaches, mango….) for garnish
whipped cream for garnish (optional)
10” glass baking dish (you can use whatever you have on hand, even pie tins are fine)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and the sugar. Using a whisk, vigorously mix the two ingredients together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Now add the milk, butter and rava into the mixing bowl and stir well to combine all the ingredients together into a smooth batter. Cover and let the batter sit for at least 1 hour. This will allow the rava to soak up some of the liquid ingredients and soften up before baking.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease your baking dish or pie tin with cooking spray (or use can use butter or ghee).
After one hour, stir in the other ingredients (baking powder, cardamom powder, nutmeg and raisins). Mix well to combine and pour into the greased bake ware of choice. Sprinkle the top with the nuts. Bake in the center rack for approximately 25-30 minutes until the cake is a light golden brown in color and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly before slicing. You could slice the cake into either squares or wedges. Serve warm with seasonal fresh fruit and whipped cream.
There are lots of lovely creative variations that will work here. Instead of sugar, use honey for a different taste. Any flavored honey will work beautifully in this recipe. You can also add other dried fruit such as chopped apricots, dates, cherries or figs. You could also add a little cinnamon or a pinch of saffron to the recipe as well. Also, you could also add an over ripe mashed banana to the batter along with some chopped pecans or walnuts.