The turn of the last century witnessed an overwhelming Zoroastrian population from Iran migrating to Bombay, fast developing into a bustling commercial hub. The Iranians were industrious and aided by fellow Iranian Parsis and propelled by their love for tea, went on to set up a string of humble cafes. Cafes that served, needless to mention, tea.
Before long, the cafes had become synonymous with the city of Bombay, the menus had expanded, the bakery had been introduced and the cafes had emerged as the de facto haunts for Bombayites – those time-stops-still places you went to to chat with friends or read a newspaper or listen to cricket commentary on the radio or just watch the city go by. Over endless cups of Irani Chai.
The fortunes of the cafes dwindled. The younger generations were not too keen to run cafes. Competition became fierce. As flamboyant cafes and delis took the food scene of the city by storm.
That hypnotic aroma of baking that lingered out from the kitchens.
GOD IS GREAT).
And their to-die-for mawa cake.
Mawa cake, the melt-in-your-mouth khoya cake perfumed with cardamom powder, guaranteed to transport you to food utopia.
So not surprisingly, when B Merwan and Co, a century-old Iranian cafe, downed it’s shutters, the city mourned.
And lo behold, they did rejoice when the cafe reopened in a couple of months.
Inspired by the iconic mawa cake from B Merwan and Co, the Iranian cafe that has earned a legendary status in the crowded culinary landscape of the city.
- 250 g plain flour
- 200 g mawa or khowa store bought
- 200 g brown sugar powdered
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 2 tbsp sulatans
- 1/4 cup pistachios and almonds finely sliced (optional)
- 1/2 cup ghee or clairified butter
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 11/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- a liitle ghee or clairified butter for greasing
- Pre-heat oven at 180C.
- Soak the sulatans in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain from water, pat dry and keep aside.
- Line one 8 inch spring-form cake tin with parchment paper, grease with ghee. Keep aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom powder and salt to aerate the dry mixture. Keep aside in a bowl.
- Crumble mawa with hand or grater, keep aside.
- In another bowl, beat the mawa, sugar, milk, ghee and oil for 3-4 minutes, till the mixture is pale and fluffy. There should not be any lumps.
- Now add the eggs, one by one, and beat lightly to combine. Add the vanilla extract, mix well.
- Add the dry mixture to the batter, 1/3 rd at a time, beat lightly to mix. Do not over-beat. It will make your cake dense.
- Add the sultanas and fold with a wooden spatula.
- Pour the batter into the greased tin, make the top smooth with the aid of the spatula.
- Sprinkle sliced almonds and pistachios on top. (optional)
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow it cool down on wire rack. Serve it warm or at room temperature.