Semolina (Rava) Cake

An old-school classic that will remind you of the Iyengar bakery style cake that you’re sure to have eaten at some point if you grew up in India.

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Growing up in India, we didn’t eat a lot of cakes/baked goods. Baking at home wasn’t common, ordering in food unheard of, and even if you did, where would you order a cake from? There were very few bakeries and the only patisseries were the ones in high-end hotels. Thus cake for us was something you ate mostly at birthdays or on other special occasions.

When I started baking first, I heard a lot about “Iyenger style cakes” and had no idea what it meant till I came to find out about the iconic legacy of Bangalore’s Iyenger bakeries and how after being nearly a household name in the Southern parts of the country, had suddenly started cropping up in other regions as well, most dominantly, Mumbai – the city I live in.

It wasn’t until I tried their cakes did I understand what the hype was about. Soft, tender, and delicious – the cakes were simple – old-school, without any jazz but so memorable!

However, it’s one thing to appreciate something and another to know that it’s not the best for you on a regular basis. As much as I loved their stuff, I found myself doubting the level of hygiene at nearly all the outlets I visited, and also the quality of ingredients they used given their shockingly low prices.

So it was that my love affair with the Iyenger bakery came to an end even before it had properly started. They say necessity is the mother of all invention and in this case it turned out to be true. I was so smitten by their rawa cake that I couldn’t come to terms with the idea that I may never eat it again. And so I set off on a mission to recreate the same in my own kitchen.

The first few trials gave me something similar – honestly it is such a simple cake that it wasn’t too difficult to create it. But it still lacked a certain flavor and texture I was looking for. A few changes finally led to the perfect recipe with minimum effort! It gives me no little joy to be sharing this recipe here with all of you reading this!

Semolina cake

The cake needs only a few simple ingredients that are pantry staples –
  • Yogurt (thick, strained or hung yogurt. Home-made or store-brought will work)
  • Sugar
  • Oil
  • Semolina, also known as rava or sooji
  • All-purpose flour (without it the crumb doesn’t hold as well together)
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda
  • Milk
A few things to know before you bake
  • I use coarse raw semolina as it is – no roasting or grinding.
  • The resting time is important for the batter for the semolina to absorb the liquid. A lot of recipes in fact suggest soaking the semolina overnight in butter. However, I found that it made no significant difference even when the semolina was soaked for only an hour. I also prefer to use oil because it keeps the cake soft even after a few days.
  • The cake despite not having a specific flavor tastes great. If you are keen, you could add zest (lemon/orange), extracts or essences, nuts, choco-chips or anything else you like to the recipe.
  • I’ve made the cake plain and also with some nuts added to the top before baking and it tastes wonderful both ways although my family prefers the version with some nuts.

So head on over and try this wonderful ‘Iyenger style Semolina Cake’ – a simple, no fuss recipe that produces a gorgeous cake – one for the times!

If you make this, do send me your pictures and I will give you a shoutout on Instagram.

A few other tea-cakes you will like

    • Orange Almond cake
    • Banana Walnut Bread
    • Lemon Loaf
    • Masala chai cake
    • Date Walnut Cake
    • Semolina Cake

      An old-school cake made with semolina flour that one can never have enough of!
      Makes: One 7-8 inch round
      Prep Time10 mins
      Cook Time35 mins
      Resting Time15 mins
      Total Time1 hr
      Keyword: cake


      • 1 + ¼ cup Semolina (200g)
      • ¼ cup All-purpose flour
      • ¾ cup Caster sugar
      • 1 tsp Baking Powder
      • ½ tsp Baking Soda
      • cup Oil
      • ½ cup Yogurt
      • ½-¾ cup Milk
      • zest of one lemon (optional)



      • Grease or line a 7-inch round pan or a loaf pan and keep aside.
      • In a bowl, mix the semolina, flour, sugar, oil, yogurt, 1/2 cup of milk and lemon zest and mix well. Cover and leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes. Start the oven after 5 minutes to pre-heat at 180 degree C.
      • After 15 minutes, add the baking powder, and baking soda to the batter. whisk well and if its too thick add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk, little at a time to check the consistency. You don't want a very thin batter.
      • Pour it into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
      • Let it cool slightly then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. cool completely before slicing.


      For measurement conversions to grams and ml, refer the conversion guide here – Measurements Conversion Guide

Join the Conversation

  1. Sheetal Jaju says:

    Should we use baarik sooji or medium sized sooji for this cake ?

    1. Hi Sheetal, finer sooji will give you better texture. If the one you have is bigger granules, I would pulse it in the grinder a couple of times.

      1. 7259675973pooja says:

        Can you please tell me recipes without oven as well?
        Or how many minutes to bake without oven.

        1. Hi does this taste like merwans mawa cake?

    2. Sheetal aggarwal says:

      Can the cake be made in microwave?

      1. Hi Sheetal, the cake can be made in the convection mode of the microwave

  2. Can I use maida instead of APF??

    1. Hi, yes on my blog apf is intended as maida.

      1. Rashmi Parwal says:

        Can we use hung curd instead of yogurt?

  3. Can we use butter instead of oil in this recipe ?

    1. Hi Jyoti, yes you can.

  4. We tried this out…. It was super amazing ❤️ thank you for the recipe.

    1. Thank you for the feedback Priya!

  5. tanvi gabdhi says:

    can we make witout oven?
    how much time for baking on gas?

    1. Hi Tanvi, please follow the steps mentioned in my article “baking on the stovetop” under tips and tricks

  6. Hi! Can I substitute sugar with 3/4 cup Jaggery or dates?

  7. Hi. Thanks for this delicious recipe. Could u pls tell when do we add lemon zest n how much??

    1. Hi Priyanka, if you’d like to use lemon zest in the recipe, use the zest of one small lemon.

  8. Anjali Khanwani says:

    Hi ! Doesn’t using curd reduce the shelf life of the cake??

    1. Hi Anjali, using a dairy product definitely reduces the shelf life of any baked good but this cake is still going to stay well for 2-3 days. Though It never really lasts that long in our home ????

  9. Nidhi jain says:

    Why my cake top gets sticky aftr some time

    1. Hi Nidhi, did you cover the cake soon after taking it out of the oven? That’s usually the reason a cake could get a sticky too

  10. anjali sachdev says:

    i tried this recipie, it turned out to be ymmiesttt!
    i love ur page.
    Thank you sooo much fr this amazing healthy cake.

    1. Hi Anjali, thank you so much for sharing your feedback. Glad you liked the cake!

  11. Can we use Roasted Rava?????

    1. Hi Preethi, I have used regular unroasted rava for the recipe.

  12. Can I use brown sugar or Jaggery instead of sugar

    1. Hi Aditi, I haven’t tried with either but it should work. Just that they may give your cake a slight colour too.

  13. Nice website, I am your avid reader.

    1. Thank you so much Carly! Stay tuned.

  14. Hi can we substitute maida with oats flour or ragi or whole wheat flour?
    Also how have you decorated the cake with pistas and dried Rose Petals?
    Looks very interesting!

    1. Hi Rashi, You’ll need a strong flour like maida (refined) or whole-wheat since semolina itself can’t give the cake structure. Yes, i’ve used chopped and powdered Pistachio and dried rose petals to decorate it. Thank you for your feedback 🙂

  15. Can I use 2 eggs instead of the yogurt?

    1. Hi Sharon, I havent tried baking this with eggs so I can’t confirm the quantity but you could give it a try in a smaller batch and tell me how it goes.

  16. Hey. Can we use finely sifted wheat flour instead of all purpose flour? Thank you.

  17. Hello. Thank you for the amazing recipe. I just wanted to ask if we could use sifted wheat flour instead of all purpose flour?

    1. Hi Himadri, yes you can but the texture will differ

  18. Ritu Sethi says:

    Hie.. just one question.. my morphy Richards otg has bake mode with only the lower element on.. it has no fan optionas it is 28 lts ..some bakers suggest to always bake with both elements on.. for that I’ve to keep it on toast mode.. what do you suggest? Thank you.. Ritu

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