Steamed Savoury Pea “Cakes” with Herb Chutney

These light, fluffy steamed cakes are a fantastic starter or tea time snack. I would serve them with spicy herb chutney but they taste lovely as they are. There are special deep sided steel plates/tins which are normally used for these type of steamed cakes but I use a small 5½-6” baking tin. I have a double steamer in which I place the two tins, one on each level. If you don’t have a steamer, you can boil water in a wide pan and place a pudding bowl (filled with water) inside and place the tin/plate on top. If you do this, you need to make sure the baking tin is not the type where the base is removable as it will rise up into the batter. If you don’t have a double steamer, make up the batter and halve before adding the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Then add half the quantity of the raising agents to half the batter, cook and then once you have cleaned the tin, repeat with the remaining batter. You can also only make one tin by halving the quantities.

Serves 4-6, can be halved

  • 140g gram flour
  • 170g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 18g peeled ginger, roughly quartered
  • 2 Indian finger green chillies, stalk removed
  • 4 tbs. lemon juice (around 1½ lemons)
  • 8 tbs. water
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2/3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 tsp. bicarbonate of soda


  • 4 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 16 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds

Grease an 8”steel dhokla plate or baking tin (see above). Pour about 3” of water in the base of a double steamer or wide and deep saucepan. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, blend the peas, water, lemon juice, oil, ginger and chillies to a smooth paste. Stir in the gram flour and salt to taste. Stir in the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, leave for about 40 seconds and then give it a stir, you should be able to see it becoming frothy. Carefully place in the steamer, cover with a lid and steam on a moderate to high heat for 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the steamer, leave to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate.

Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds, when they are popping well, add the sesame seeds and once they start to colour add curry leaves, stir for 5 seconds and spoon evenly over the cakes. Cut the cakes into diamond, squares or wedges shapes. Serve hot or room temperature.


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