Dumrote Halwa is cooked traditionally on dum, that is slow heat in a closed vessel. I have seen original Dumrote at Balepet Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan and also at Venkateshwara Sweet Meat Stall having golden brown crust on them. Last time when I made the halwa, I made it in a kadai just like we make Sheera or Kashi Halwa. I had a vague idea then to bake dumrote in the oven like a cake. Dum Ka Rote is almost like a cake with a crusty outer and soft inner as per few recipes I glanced. It is made with semolina, milk, ghee and sugar adding flavours and dry fruits. I thought of making it with added ash gourd.
Just when I was thinking about that, my friend Dr. Sai Giridhar Kamath, a leading ophthalmologist in Mangaluru sent me message, asking if I want ash gourd grown in his garden. He said, today is Manjeshwar Shashti, a festival during which majority of GSBs cook ash gourd at home. Though I don't follow that festival, now is holiday season, and baking a cake with ash gourd should be a fine example for all. So, I didn't hesitate to say yes!
He brought an ash gourd weighing just above 2 Kilos, which is suitable for my recipe. Then I had to think about how to bake it. Halwa is normally a very moist and sticky sweet dish whereas cake should have a moist but fluffy and grainy texture. Using the right amount of solids and liquids, adding right amount of leavening and shortening agents make a cake perfect. Apart from that, one needs guts to experiment with a cake that has expensive ingredients going in. I had that courage and self confidence. So I formulated the recipe according to the following scientific explanations.
1. I increased the amount of semolina and also used chiroti rava, which is superfine Bombay rava.
2. I didn't roast the semolina but just coated it with ghee, so that each grain swells up slowly as liquids heat up and get absorbed by the grains.
3. I chopped the raisins so that they mix well in the batter. I roasted the cashew nuts in ghee so that they remain firm.
4. Adding one cup of milk and avoiding adding water ensures homogeneous mixing of khova with the wet ingredients.
5. I covered the baking tin with aluminum foil for half the time, so that the upper crust of the cake remains golden and does not get burnt. This is a vital step in baking any crusty dishes.
6. I added calculated amount of salt, baking powder and baking soda to make the cake taste better and become fluffy.
So once I decided to make the cake, I didn't waste any time. Ash gourd was fresh, all other ingredients were in stock and most of all, the electricity department MESCOM was kind to me by not shutting down power! The end result can be seen in the pictures, but those who tasted the cake have given a Hi Five. What more can I expect than seeing happy faces! You too can make your family and friends happy this Christmas by baking this delicious moist fluffy Dum Ka Rote Ash Gourd Semolina Cake.
Ash Gourd(Well grown one) - 2 Kg
Chiroti Rava(Semolina) - 2 1/2 cups
Salt - 1/4 Tsp
Baking Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Baking Soda - 1 1/2 Tsp
Ghee - 180 Ml
Sugar - 2 cups(Reduce or increase according to taste)
Khova - 200 Gms crumbled(Or Condensed Milk 100 Ml)
Milk - 1 Cup
Cashew bits - 25 Gms
Raisins - 25 Gms chopped
Green Cardamom - 6-8 pods, peeled and seeds crushed
Edible Camphor(Pachcha Karpooram) crystals - A pinch
Orange Red Food colour - A pinch dissolved in little warm water
Saffron(Optional if you are not using food colour and camphor) - A pinch dissolved in little warm milk
Wash peel and cut ash gourd into thick wedges.
Grate them and collect the grated ash gourd in a bowl.
Using a juice strainer, squeeze out the juice from the grated ash gourd and collect the juice separately.
You should get 3 cups of the grated ash gourd and little more of the juice.
Heat 3-4 Tbsp of ghee in a nonstick pan.
Fry the cashew bits, drain and keep aside.
To the same ghee add grated ash gourd on high flame, mixing continuously, so that it doesn't get burnt.
Keep stirring for about 10 mins when the mass gets partly cooked, changes colour and ghee starts leaving the sides.
Now add the collected ash gourd juice and keep mixing.
Stir fry on high flame for another 10 mins when the mass gets mushy and semi dry.
Allow to cool and then mix in milk and crumbled khova.
Add chopped raisins, nuts, camphor and cardamom powder.
Preheat oven to 225° C for 10 minutes.
Grease a 12" x 8" baking tin and keep ready.
Mix semolina with salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Add remaining ghee and mix well to coat the semolina.
Now fold in semolina and sugar into cooked ash gourd milk and khova mix.
Add food colour or optional saffron in milk and mix gently.
Pour the mixture into greased baking tin.
Bake at 225° C for 10 minutes and then at 180° C for another 30-35 minutes, or until edges turn brown and a toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool on the rack for about 1 hour.
Once cool, slice into pieces and store in an air tight cake box.
All measures are in standard cup of volume 200Ml.
If you add condensed milk instead of Khova, reduce the quantity of sugar.
You can also make this cake by replacing ash gourd with cucumber.