Low-Fat Cucumber Cake, Indian-Style

It’s sweltering here in the northeast, and in most of the country. But a steady crop of cucumbers from the vines I planted in my backyard garden this spring are helping us keep our cool.

I’ve been slicing them into pitchers of water, chopping them up into salads and raitas, and just eating them fresh off the vine, with a dash of salt rubbed into their centers.
If you’ve ever grown cucumbers, you know that they can produce too much of a good thing. This past weekend, as I wondered what else to do with all those cucumbers, I was visited by a blast from the past. Tausali, or cucumber cake.
In the India I grew up in, ovens were a rarity. Cakes were a rare treat you bought at the bakery. But what some adventurous cooks did have was an aluminum contraption that looked like a tube pan with a lid. In the bottom was a compartment that held sand. The “oven” was placed on a stove and the flame heated the sand which in turn baked the cake.

My mom had one of those contraptions, and she would sometimes bake Tausali in it.
Tausali is a rather spare yet sumptuous cake from India’s Konkan region– my dad’s native land. It contains the classic triumvirate of homemade Indian sweets: jaggery (an unrefined Indian sugar not unlike piloncillo), coconut, and cardamom. It also contains rava (sooji or cream of wheat), sometimes ghee, and — of course– cucumber. There are no leaveners here, like baking soda or baking powder. The ingredients are all mixed up and baked in that little stovetop oven. The resulting cake is dense but moist and incredibly flavorful.

My Lowfat Cucumber Cake is not Tausali– I adapted it to make it more cake-like than Tausali by using flour instead of rava, and I did add some baking soda and baking powder to help the cake rise. But I tried to stay true to the basic flavors by using jaggery as the sweetener, and by incorporating cardamom and coconut into the recipe.
To stay true to the fresh-from-the-tube-pan look of a Tausali, but to make it prettier, I baked my Cucumber Cake in a bundt pan.
The cake was delicious. The jaggery gave it a deep richness, and the cardamom was just perfect with the cucumber. If you can’t find jaggery feel free to substitute with brown sugar. The result won’t be exactly the same, but it will taste pretty darn good.

This is also a very healthy cake. There is very little fat in the recipe, and it incorporates brown rice flour and whole-wheat flour — and, of course, a veggie. Because jaggery is not refined, it is also a better-for-you sweetener.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Cucumber Cake, Indian-Style

Ingredients:

Mix in a bowl:

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp powdered cardamom

Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

In another bowl, mix:

2 cups very finely grated jaggery (don’t leave in any lumps here)

3 tbsp flaxmeal mixed with 9 tbsp water

3/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup grated coconut

4 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 large cucumber (2 1/2 cups), seeded and grated

Add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until everything comes together. Pour the batter into a bundt pan and smooth the top.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Unmold 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then slice and enjoy!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

27 thoughts on “Low-Fat Cucumber Cake, Indian-Style

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Richa

    July 17, 2012 at 9:11pm

    wow.. the cake looks amazing! we have a tiny balcony and have been getting a good supply of spinach and herbs! i can imagine the abundant cucumbers in your larger garden:)
    doesnt the cucumber make the cake too soggy because of the extra moisture it leaks during baking?

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      July 18, 2012 at 5:46pm

      No, the moisture actually helps keep the cake moist. You’d normally add some liquid to a cake anyway.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Chitra Vivek

    July 17, 2012 at 9:45pm

    Love love and love it.Question: Can I substitute Jaggery with Sugar and what will be the sub for Apple sauce. I have all other ingredients at home:)

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      July 18, 2012 at 5:47pm

      Chitra, leave out the apple sauce and substitute with more cucumber.

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Manasi

    July 17, 2012 at 10:19pm

    Oh my! cucumber in a cake! Who would have thunk!
    Looks gorgeous.
    Jaggery and cardamom, wah, kya jodi hai!

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    jan

    July 17, 2012 at 10:31pm

    looks nice. I never had tausala. Will definatly make this. Can I use zucchini than cucumber, as I have big zucchini at home now.
    Hope Lucy is doing great!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Usha

    July 18, 2012 at 2:40am

    Ooh this cake looks so, so delicious, love the use of jaggery in this cake. This goes directly into my must try list :)

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Tina

    July 18, 2012 at 4:00am

    Gr8 idea dear..Cake looks soft and delicious..

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      July 18, 2012 at 5:51pm

      Sowmya, sure, but you would need two pans. Divide the batter in half for each pan. You can also use a loaf pan and start checking to see if the cake is done after about 30-35 minutes.

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Jane

    July 18, 2012 at 8:36am

    Recipe looks great – I’ve been after trying more vegetable cakes recently. I think I’m going to try it with a lime flavoured icing!

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priya

    July 18, 2012 at 10:56am

    Wat a gorgeous cake,never thought of making cakes with cucumber, beautifully done.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Poornima Nair

    July 19, 2012 at 12:14am

    What an awesome cake Vaishali! Love everything in it! Bookmarked to try.

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    chennaispice

    July 20, 2012 at 8:29pm

    I’ve never come across a cake with cucumber in it. Perfect for the summer.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mints!

    August 25, 2012 at 10:25pm

    I just tried this with cucumbers from backyard. Oh so tasty! All the flavors have just came together perfectly. I did not have rice flour so added 1 cup of fine rava. I did not have applesauce so added same amount of grated cucumber. I mixed grated cucumbers and jaggery together and set it aside so jaggery melted nicely in it ;)

    Such a keeper recipe.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      August 28, 2012 at 3:19pm

      Mints, so happy you tried it. Thanks for the feedback– adding rava is perfect because there is rava in the original tausali.

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    March 2, 2013 at 6:32pm

    Tausali is actually a cucumber thalipeeth made with rice fllour, from Konkan region. You have made dhondas which is a cucumber cake.

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cassia

    April 29, 2013 at 3:38pm

    I don’t have brown rice flour. Can I add more all purpose?

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    May 1, 2013 at 10:51pm

    What about the liquid that come out while grating cucumber?am i supposed to leave that? Or should i add that too?

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