Vegan Indian jackfruit cake

Dhoñas is a traditional recipe from the Western coast of India, cooked in the Konkan, Goa, and Mangalore states by some of the communities living there. The people living in these areas were not very rich, so recipes were simple, cheap, and made from seasonal local ingredients. Baking was done either using the dry large stems of the coconut fronds as live embers or the embers of charcoal. These were under the pan, and also some places on the lid, since there were no ovens in our traditional kitchens. Hence there are many recipes that are simply steamed.

 Dhoñas is a vegetarian and vegan, steamed eggless cake, made using fresh local seasonal fruits like ripe jackfruit, mango, or the fragrant, golden-orange, ripe fibrous pulp of the covering around the ice-apple. Locally called Tadgola, a fruit of the Palmyra tree. For this recipe, you can always use tinned ripe jackfruit if fresh is unavailable.

This extremely simple recipe is very easy and quick to prepare, and ideal for vegetarians and vegans alike. The aromatic cake-like Dhoñas is moist, aromatic, beautifully textured and tastes delightful. Use it as a snack, or serve it as a dessert!

If you want to dish it up festively for Christmas, insert ½ cup cranberries on the top, or add some raisins, and be more generous with chopped cashew or almonds.

Cashew grows abundantly in this coastal region of India, so it is a nut of choice used for this eggless cake, but you can use pistachios and almonds instead.

You will require a steamer and an oven-proof dish. Or use a large pan with water, into which the oven-proof dish will fit.

For 6-8 persons. 1 cup= 240 ml/ 1 tbsp=15 ml/ 1 tsp = 5 ml


230g ripe jackfruit/ ripe tinned jackfruit arils
85g/ ½ cup coarse semolina or very fine bulgar
½ cup coconut milk
145g/ 1 cup jaggery powder/ or raw cane sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder, preferably freshly ground.
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp yoghurt
1/3 cup cashews split into halves
½ tsp soda-bicarbonate
Delicious, aromatic vegan fruit cake!


1.If using semolina, dry roast the semolina in a pan for 5 mins.
2.Add semolina/ fine bulgar to a mixing bowl.
3.Chop the jackfruit coarsely and make a purée in the blender.
4.Add to the semolina/ bulgar, the jackfruit purée, coconut milk, jaggery or sugar, cardamom, salt, and yoghurt.
5.Mix well.
6.Keep a steamer / pan with water on the stove and bring the water to a boil.
7.Line a greased cake tin/ or an oven-proof baking dish, with greased baking paper. Traditionally we lined it with a greased banana leaf.
8.Add the soda-bicarbonate to the dhoñas mixture at the last moment, before steaming, and mix it in quickly by stirring.
9.Pour the dhoñas mixture into the baking dish and lightly smoothen the top. Arrange the cashews on top.
10.Place the dish in the steamer, cover the steamer, and steam for 30 minutes.
11.Remove from steamer and cool for minimum of 2 hours before you cut it.
12.Cut the Dhoñas into large cubes to serve.
13.Traditionally a spoonful of warm liquid ghee is added to each cube as you serve it. You can serve it with vegan ice-cream.

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