Mumbai’s Mawa Cake

If you’ve been following the food news in Mumbai recently, much has been said already about the humble Mawa Cake. If you don’t live in Mumbai and are wondering why this is the case then let me update you. The media frenzy started earlier this year when the 100 year old Irani cafe, B. Merwan in Grantroad known for its Mawa Cakes announced that it will be shutting down by 31st March. This is yet another closure of a popular Irani cafe and the city truly mourned its loss with paper after paper writing stories about B Merwan and more so about its renowned Mawa Cakes.

Mawa Cake, Bawi Bride, Parsi Cake, irani Cafe

My relationship with the Mawa Cake has been something akin to a distant cousin. You don’t see them every day or even every month for that matter but you love them and are comfortably complacent about their existence. Similarly, I’ve always enjoyed the buttery Mawa Cake that has just the perfect hint of cardamom. However, my time in NZ meant that I didn’t eat these cakes as often and even after coming to Mumbai, Mawa Cakes are something I just pick up if I am in the Grantroad or Andheri area. (there is another unassociated B. Merwan there whose rum balls I swear by!)

Whip Sugar and mawa

Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued when Pooja Vir who blogs at Table for One approached me to research the origins of the Mawa Cake. While I couldn’t be of much help sadly, I’d highly recommend her article on ‘How the Mumbai’s Cupcake Survived’ to all food history lovers. With both B. Merwan and Royal Bakery of Pune claiming that their bakery was the one to invent this humble cake to me this seems to be the Pavlova argument all over again (both New Zealand and Australia claim they invented the Pavlova. Being a kiwi I side with the NZ story ofcourse).

Mawa Cake, Bawi Bride, Parsi Cake, irani Cafe

After reading multiple stories about the Mawa cake, I decided to try my hand at making it at home. There were quite a few recipes but the one that I’ve followed below has been picked up from Helene DuJardin’s blog, Tartellete – the recipe for the cake was given to her by her friend, Bina who like many of us has strong memories associated with the cake. And now without further ado, below is the recipe for the Mawa Cake – ingredients below the post as always.

The most important part of the cake ofcourse is the Mawa – Indians are lucky enough to be able to source this from their local mithai shop. However, if Mawa is something that you may not have easy access to then you can follow the steps on Tartellete.

For the cakes, firstly preheat the oven and lightly spray with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter) small cupcake, muffin tins or other mini cake moulds. Set aside.

Muffin Tray with Butter, Mawa Cake

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom

Flour and Cardamom for Mawa Cake

Now, beat together the mawa, butter and sugar using an electric beater at medium speed

Whip sugar and mawa, mawa cake, mawa, butter, sugar

Once its combined, add in the eggs one at a time and beat well

eggs, whipping, mawa cake, Irani cafe

Next, add in the flour mixture you had kept aside as well as the milk and once again beat the mixture till everything is well mixed

cake mixture, mawa cake, parsi cake

Divide evenly amongst the muffin tins (the cakes will rise so I recommend filling it to 3/4 of the height) topping each one with  broken cashews

mawa cakes, baking, cakes, parsi cake

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 180 degs and resist the urge to keep opening the oven

Baking Mawa Cake

Remove once they are golden brown and cool – the Mawa Cakes tastes best with a hot cup of tea and can be stored for upto 4 – 5 days in an airtight container.

Freshly Baked, Mawa Cake

To make about 8 cakes you will need:

1 1/4 cups (155gr) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
pinch of salt
100gm mava, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (90gm) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (about 200 gm)
2 eggs
6 tablespoons whole milk
cashew halves (optional)

Mawa Cake, Parsi Cake, Tea Cake

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  1. says

    Ha ha ha, I read the recipe and immediately thought “how do you bake something at 180º?? And I realized that was 180ºC.

    Is there any significance to the different spelling- either mawa or mava?

  2. Manasi Mande says

    I tried ‘Mawa cake’ receipe. I made a change, by using just 3 tsp of milk. And trust me result was toooo good. Everyone in my family loved these cupcakes. One more thing I want to share that, baking time may vary as everyone’s oven is different. Thanks for this wonderful receipe!

  3. says

    Great recipe! Thanks for sharing this. I upped the milk to 8 tbsp (aka 1/2 cup) and added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and a bit of grated orange zest. Turned out fabulous. I live 5 minutes from Merwan (which is back open and going strong!) but I’m glad I can make it for myself now.

  4. Valisa says

    Ohhh… this recipe is awesome.. finally i found perfect recipe for mawa cake… i hav already tried it 2 times… nd gonna try it again n again. But it doesn’t taste like merwan. If i add 200 gm mawa wil it taste like merwans cake???

    • says

      Hi Valisa, thanks for stopping by. I am a bit confused – did you add the mawa that the recipe originally calls for? Each mawa cake always tastes slightly different so I can’t guarantee it will come out tasting like Merwan’s but sure if you want the more creamier richer texture do try adding more mawa and that should help.

  5. says

    Hi… It’s a yummy cake. Just one doubt. Is the khoya (mava) used here is sweetened? If I use unsweetened khoya, how much Sugar do I need to add extra? Please advise. Thanks.

  6. Prachi says

    If someone ask which cake you like most.. I will say instantly mervan Mawa cake.. I tried your receipe multiple times n it’s huge hit at home . Thanks a lot. A must try one.


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