The Fabulous Cucumber Cake!

I am going to start this blog with a suprising recipe, but one which has proven popular with whoever has tried it so far.  Apparently, this is a typical Goan recipe, and is called ‘Tavsali.’  It is also one of the healthiest cakes around.  Personally, I am of the opinion that if you are going to eats sweets, do it once in a while, and do it properly (not the sugar-free, gluten-free, everything-else-free variety.)  However, in this case, ‘tasty’, ‘sweet’ and ‘healthy’ have accidentely combined.  This recipe is also very easy to make- 5 minutes to mix it and 20 minutes to cook.

Enjoy joking with your guests by making them guess what this cake is made of!!


1 1/2 cups semolina

1 1/ 2 cups gur, grated into powder (solidified sugar-cane juice/panela in Spanish)

4-5 cardamom pods

2 cups peeled and grated cucumber (around 2 medium sized cucumbers)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda or baking powder

3/4 cup fresh grated coconut (optional- it is part of the original recipe, but is perfectly fine without it)

Oil for the tray


  1.  Toast the semolina in a frying pan until it changes colour slightly.  Do not burn!
  2. Fill the botton of your steamer-pot with water, cover and heat until boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, as the water is boiling, crush the cardamom pods, removing the skin and grinding the seeds into a coarse powder.
  4. Grease the tray with oil.  Mix semolina, cucumber, gur, and cardamom in a bowl.  It should be quite liquid, but not runny.  You can always add a little water or milk if it is too dry.  Finally, add the baking soda, mix well, but quickly, pour into the tray, and place immmediately into the steamer.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  (As with any cake made in the oven, do not open during the beggining stages of cooking.  You may test it with a knife to see if it is properly cooked.)


GUR- is a kind of solid, unprocessed sugar made from boiled sugar cane juice.  It is a natural product, which actually has some health benefits, vitamins and minerals, as well as a delicious taste.  It is a great alternative to normal sugar.  However, if you can’t find it, you may replace it with brown sugar.  The taste, however, WILL NOT be the same.

STEAMER-  Steaming is a popular technique in cultures where ovesteamer1ns are not common.  It is also a useful technique to make cakes which are light and fluffy, but without needing any oil, butter, etc.  You will need a steamer-pot, that is, a large pot where you can place water in the bottom, and which then has a tray to sit above the level of the water.  You place the cake on top of this tray to cook.  If you don’t have one, you can experiment by placing some other heavy object int he bottom of the pot, and the cake tray on top, as long as it is above the water level.

THE CAKE TRAY- you can use any kind of tray, a flat ceramic bowl, or just about anything.  The cake should not be very think.

(If you wan’t, you can make a tasty icing for this cake by mixing cream-cheese (the type used for cheese-cakes), honey and chopped mint.)



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