Some of my earliest memories are connected to old Indian movies - dramatic, tear-jerking stories of love and family, tradition and culture, and happiness celebrated through music and dance. It wasn't until 1998 that I discovered the magical world of spices and the endless flavours that make Indian cuisine unique.
Indian sweets rely on semolina, besan, vermicelli, rice, carrots, mangoes, pistachios, almonds and dairy to deliver unique tastes and textures and are commonly flavoured with rose water, saffron and cardamom. Not many fruits are found in typical Indian desserts and among them mango is the most extensively used. It gives each dish a gorgeous yellow/orange colour and a deep fruity taste. Before finding this recipe on RedChillies I'd only had mango in the form of smoothies and juices. A quick scan of the ingredients and I was immediately hooked: semolina - one of the best things ever created.
With very limited knowledge about the different types of mango, I bought a can of sweetened Kesar mango pulp which for some reason had a dark orange colour and my result was nowhere close to the beautiful yellow of RedChillies' cake. Until I make this mango cake again and post some really beautiful photos, I invite you to look at the inspiring pictures on RedChillies and I'm sure you're going to feel the same urge to try this recipe that I did. The cake is rich, flavourful, moist and slightly crumbly. Cardamom is an acquired taste, especially in desserts, but trust me, it makes all the difference here. Rule of thumb, a little goes a long way.
Note about semolina: Choose a type that's not too coarse, but not flour-like either. It should still be grainy, but fine. I find that coarse semolina makes this cake too dense, as it doesn't have enough liquid to absorb, while very fine semolina turns it into a thick pudding.
What you need...
- 1 cup fine semolina
- 1/2 cup organic unrefined caster sugar (if you're using sweetened mango pulp, reduce to 1/3 cup)
- 1 tsp baking powder (aluminium-free)
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or crush a few seeds)
- 1 cup mango pulp (canned or from fresh fruit)
- 1/2 cup non-dairy butter, melted (first measure the butter and then melt it, the resulting amount will be less than 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup raisins or chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add mango pulp and melted butter and combine well. If you're using raisins or walnuts, add them now. Let sit for 10 minutes, semolina will absorb part of the moisture.
- Meanwhile grease a 23x13 cm (9"x5") loaf pan with butter and dust it with flour (it doesn't have to be a loaf pan, I'm only mentioning the size of the one I used to give you an idea of how big a cake this batter makes).
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use the back of a spoon to even out the surface. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Start checking after about 25 minutes so it doesn't dry out.
- Let the cake sit in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then carefully remove it onto a plate. Let cool completely and slice.
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