This time I thought I would try my hand and feature something that was truly Goan and a Christmas-time favourite here. I had never made a Baath Cake or Baatica/ Batega as it is also known (pronounced Baatkh, the “a” at the end being somewhat silent and just hinted at in pronunciation), and this seemed as good a time as ever to do so.
Goan Catholic cuisine is, not surprisingly, heavily influenced by Portuguese food and flavours yet truly Indian in character when it comes to the spices and other ingredients it uses. This is another cake which probably has origins in Portuguese cuisine. I haven’t found any indications of a Portuguese cake made with semolina, though there might be one given the Moroccan influence over Portugal, it is possible that there is a version of the Middle Eastern Basbousa (semolina cake) being made in Portugal.
When the recipe possibly came to Goa, it ended up using indigenous ingredients and became the Bolo de Baatica. Of course, I don’t have any material to confirm this, and it’s just an idea.
Now the Baatica does not stop its journey in Goa. The Portuguese had also colonised Malacca so I guess it was natural to find out that a quite a few Goan recipes are quite popular out there especially with the Peranakan/Baba Nyonya community. They make a somewhat different version of the Goan cake, many of them with almond meal, and all-purpose/ cake flour as well as semolina, and out there it is known as Kek Sugee or the Sugee Cake. The “Sugee” is another spelling for the Indian word “Sooji” for Semolina (Rava)
Getting back to the Goan Batica, this cake is one of the items traditionally made for Christmas as part of the Christmas Consoada as it is called here (or Kuswar), though some families did not make cakes for Christmas as butter and eggs used to be expensive.
Batica is a cake made with semolina (rava) and coconut. It is not surprising that a lot of sweets (and savouries) made along the Western states of India feature coconuts because this is literally the “coconut belt” of India. You just cannot escape seeing coconut palms anywhere you go in this part of India.
A lot of recipes for Baatica call for quite a bit of butter and eggs. Actually, it strikes me that the Baatica is almost like pound cake, but made with semolina! It is a soft, somewhat dense and crumbly but moist cake. What is unusual about the Baatica, is that unlike any other cake I have ever seen, the batter requires a “resting period” of usually 6 to 8 hours or even overnight!!
My recipe needs a “resting period” of about 3 hours. Other than that, it is a cake than is easy to make and can be put together in no time. This recipe also has a lot less butter (you can use more if you wish) and just two eggs. This made for a nice moist cake which wasn’t heavy. Please remember not to over-bake this cake or it will dry out and lose its moistness.
A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #3 : Baath Cake/ Baatica/ Batega (Goan Coconut And Semolina Cake)
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 35 gm butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 1/4 cups coconut fresh grated (not very tightly packed)
- 1 1/2 cups semolina (rava)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
- 2 eggs
- Put the milk, butter and sugar in a large saucepan and warm it slightly. Turn off the heat and keep stirring till the butter and sugar dissolve completely. Now add the semolina, the coconut, salt and vanilla.
- Mix well, cover and let it stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
- Beat the eggs well with a whisk, till fluffy. Add this to the semolina batter along with the baking powder. Mix well and pour the batter into a greased and floured 9-inch round cake tin.
- Bake at 170C (325F) for about 35 to 40 minutes or till the cake is cooked. Do not over-bake the cake. The cake should spring back when the top is touched gently with a finger. Cool the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes and carefully remove. Let the cake cool completely.
- Cut/ slice and serve at room temperature. This Baatica should serve 8 to 10.
- This cake makes a nice snack cake with coffee or tea. You may also serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream for dessert.