Decadent, delicious and arguably the butteriest delight, mawa cake is a must-have delicacy for Holi.
If you’ve been to a Parsi café, especially in Mumbai or Pune, you know their love for food and delightful baked items. But the one that deserves special mention is mawa cake – a sumptuous plateful of calorie-laden indulgence.
The iconic tea-time snack that the community introduced to us is not merely an Irani specialty it is a time capsule of an era gone by. Enter any Parsi café and mawa cake will be on the menu.
With the festivities in the air, I wanted to cook something simple but steeped in tradition, and I thought what better than a mawa cake. Though, laying all my cards on the table, I did add a little personal twist to the recipe.
How to Make a Traditional Mawa Cake?
When you are making something that is literally a bite right out of history, it takes time. With mawa cake, it is the khoya that adds the hours.
What’s khoya (or khoa)? It is evaporated milk solids. When the Parsis came to India in the 19th Century, there were no refrigerators. It meant café owners had to boil their milk, again and again, to keep it from being spoilt. The constant heat slowly reduced the milk to solids, giving birth to khoya!
If you have time at hand, I recommend making it at home from scratch using this wonderful recipe. If you can’t be bothered, khoya is readily available in the market. FYI, this is the easy twist to mawa cake recipe – buying soft, crumbly khoya from a nearby store.
Now on to the recipe…
Beating the sugar-butter mixture
In a mixing bowl take regular, salted butter and raw sugar. Beat them together till you have a light, fluffy mixture. You can use regular sugar, but I’ve been baking everything with raw sugar lately, and it works like a charm.
To this, whisk in some yogurt. Word of caution – make sure the yogurt is at room temperature otherwise your mixture will curdle.
Assembling the mawa cake batter
In another bowl, sift the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
The conventional mawa cake recipe doesn’t have any other spice except cardamom powder, and it is more than enough to give the buttery cakes the quintessential “Indian” scent.
Because I am making the cake for Holi, indulgence was very much called for. So, along with the cardamom, in went a few strands of luxurious saffron and a light touch of desiccated coconut. Both are absolutely optional ingredients, but they do give the cake a bouquet of flavors.
Baking the mawa cake
Fold the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture and then add the crumbled khoya to make the cake batter. Pour it into a pan, top it off with thinly shaved slivers of almond and pistachio and then let the oven do its magic.
Serving the Mawa Cake
Not too sweet. Decadent with saffron. And laced with just the right hint of cardamom and coconut. The buttery mawa cake is ultra-soft. The khoya brings an intense, fragrant, sort-of nuttiness to it while keeping every morsel moist and spongy.
Don’t be fooled by the photos, the mawa cake only looks airy and light. With one divinely caramelised bite, you realise it is a rich, rich dessert and one slice goes a long way.
In my home, we don’t bother with any garnishing and serve it as is with a spiced cup of tea or coffee. It is a perfect #TAFEverydayCake. But if you really want to take things up a notch, serve the mawa cake with saffron-flavored whipped cream, which is quite amazing.
Nice, simple, wholly doable and somehow reminiscent of the sweets I used to demolish by the fistfuls in childhood, the eggless mawa cake is the perfect recipe for Holi. I genuinely hope you try your hand at making these lovelies!
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