Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spicy Indian Cake (Ondhwo)

Ondhwo is one of my comfort foods. It’s a flavorful Gujarati cake often served as an appetizer or tea-time snack. Although baked, it involves the addition of a vagaar, tempered spices, which I wrote about in a previous post. The cabbage is relatively unnoticeable but provides moisture that creates a dense cake. Ondhwo is similar to the more well-known dhokla – a lighter, steamed cake.

This is another recipe from my mom’s repertoire, although the chutney is my bastardized version of the original.

Serves 10-12


Savory Cake
1 1/4 cups chickpea flour (also known as besan, gram or chana flour)
2 1/2 cups semolina (also known as sooji)
3 cups cabbage, grated
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
3 teaspoons garlic paste
3 teaspoons ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 3/4 teaspoons citric acid
3 3/4 cups water
2 medium onions, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen carrots
3/4 cups vegetable oil (canola or corn)
3 teaspoons
Eno’s fruit salt
10 dried whole red chillies, for garnish
2 to 3 sesame seeds, for garnish

1/4 cup vegetable oil (canola or corn)
1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
15-20 dried curry leaves (also known as limro)
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

Tomato Chutney
2 cups spicy or garlicky bottled red pasta sauce
1 teaspoon
hot chilli garlic sauce (“rooster sauce”) or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced

1. If possible, make the chutney a day or two in advance. To do this, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Add more chilli sauce or salt to taste. Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
3. To make the savory cake, mix chickpea flour and semolina. Add cabbage and mix well.
4. Add sugar, yogurt, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, chilli powder and citric acid. Mix well.
5. Add water, onions, peas and carrots. Then add oil and mix well. Set aside.
6. To make the vagaar, heat oil on low to medium heat for 3 minutes in a small skillet. Then add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and sesame seeds and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Remove skillet from the heat.
7. Add the hot vagaar to the savory cake mixture. Add Eno’s fruit salt and mix well.
8. Pour batter into springform pan. Sprinkle top with dried chillies and sesame seeds. Bake for 60-75 minutes until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. To make individual ondhwos pour batter into aluminium muffin liners and bake for 20-30 minutes or until done.
9. Slice and serve warm with tomato chutney. Store in an airtight container for up to one week in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe I've never had or even heard of this -- it sounds right up my alley! Can't get Eno's Fruit Salts here, though. Do you know of a substitute?

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Haven't tried it but I hear you can substitute baking powder or 1/2 citric acid and 1/2 baking soda. Not sure about proportions. Please let us know if you try it.

Amrita said...

I might be slightly biased but I think using ghee for the vagar is essential. It offers a far more aromatic result than corn oil. Then again my people have been obsessed with ghee for several centuries...

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