Thalie Sweet is a traditional East Indian coconut cake usually baked around Christmas Time. This yummy dense cake has a mouthful of coconut in every bite!
Although we’ve often wondered why it’s called thalie sweet, the most logical explanation we could reach is because it’s baked in thalis, and not the regular cake tins.
What are thalis? Thalies are the Indian names of the lids used to cover cooking pots. But the thalies used here are just over 1 &1/2 or 2-inch deep and look like a cross between a thali (stainless steel pot lid) and a cake pan.
You may just think of it as an East Indian sheet pan coconut cake that uses only egg whites, but this East Indian dessert, like many others, also has its origins in Portuguese Cuisine and it is quite similar to Bol De Coc or the traditional Coconut cake.
The thali sweet was often added to the palghan that East Indians sent to each other at weddings, and featured in the pass pass kar ceremony.
There are other East Indian coconut cakes with a slight twist in the ingredients that I still need to write about – the Bol De Portugal, Bol De Rai, Bol De Marie, Bol De Gram, and also Bol Lucrecia. Sis says she doesn’t mind if anyone else bakes them and sends us a post about them too!
By the way, did you know that the Goans who also have Portuguese influences have a similar dish called Baath Cake or Baatica/ Batica/ Bathika?
Come Christmas and the thaali sweet is definitely on the list of items to be made or ordered by most catholic families. To learn how to make this easy coconut cake or thalie sweet, keep reading…
What Ingredients do you Need to Make Thalie Sweet?
To make Thalie Sweet all you need is eggs (whites only), semolina (sojee or rava), desiccated coconut, butter, powdered sugar and rose water.
Traditionally thalie sweet is made by using freshly grated coconut, so if you have this around, there’s nothing like it!
How Do You Make Thalie Sweet?
You start with the eggs, separate the yolks and the whites. Keep the yolks aside as you do not need them for this recipe. You can always use them to make a yolk-only omlette or some other tasty dish.
In another vessel, beat the egg whites to a stiff froth.
Once beaten add the powdered sugar, butter, and semolina. Mix all this up and allow it to rest overnight.
We usually cover with a sheet of paper to prevent flies from getting in.
In the morning, mix the desiccated coconut with the rose water in another vessel, and once the coconut has soaked the rosewater, add this to the batter. (If you’re using freshly grated coconut, just add it in and mix. No need for rose water.)
Grease cake tins or what we Indians call thalies with butter paper and then pour the batter into the tins.
Pre-heat the oven for about 10 mins and then put the trays in. Cook at 200 degrees Celsius or 390 degrees Fahrenheit for about 50 mins.
Once the timer goes off, stake the center of the tin with a toothpick. If it sticks to the toothpick, heat for another 5 to 10 mins and check again, and repeat till the toothpick comes out clean. If it does not stick to the toothpick, it’s ready to be taken out of the oven and cooled.
We’ve used one 2-inch thick tin and one 1-inch thick tin here.
Once the cakes have cooled, cut them diagonally into diamond-shaped pieces. It has to be diamond shapes, it’s tradition! And your thalie sweet is ready to be eaten or stored until Christmas!
East Indian Thalie Sweet
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- 9 Egg Whites only
- 200 gms Semolina Sojee or Rava
- 200 gms Desiccated Coconut or Coconut Powder
- 200 gms Butter
- 300 gms Sugar Powdered
- 100 milliliter Rose Water
- Separate the yolks and egg whites. Keep the yolks for another dish.
- Beat the egg whites to a stiff froth.
- Add powdered sugar, butter and semolina, mix well and keep overnight.
- In the morning, mix the rose water with the desiccated coconut.
- Add this coconut to the batter, mix and then pour into pre-lined tins. (We use special trays that are about 11/2 or 2-inch tall and are called thalies.)
- Bake in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius / 390 Fahrenheit for 50 mins and your thalie sweet is ready.
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- You can replace the desiccated coconut in this recipe with one whole freshly grated coconut.
- If you are using freshly grated coconut, lessen the amount of rose water.
- Once the 50 minutes are done, stake the center with a toothpick to check if it is ready. If the batter sticks to the toothpick, bake for 5 or 10 more minutes and check again.
- It’s not necessary to keep the batter overnight. You can mix the batter in the morning and bake in the evening.
Nutrition (Per Serving)
Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.
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Cooking Tips and tricks
- If using freshly grated coconut, there is no need to mix with the rose water, you can add both directly to the batter.
- Although it’s traditional to keep the batter overnight, you can mix the batter in the morning and bake in the evening too.
- If you are worried about whether the sugar granules will melt or not, use powdered sugar instead!
- You might also like the recipe for East Indian coconut baskets called tartlets.
What Other East Indian recipes can I make with Semolina/Rawa/Sojee?
Questions about Making Thalie Sweet At Home
How Long Can You Store Thalie Sweet?
You can store thalie sweet for a week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Is It Necessary To Keep The Batter To Rest Overnight?
Yes, it is necessary as it helps the sojee to open up or expand. You can also mix it in the morning and bake in the evening, so that it gets about 6-8 hours of resting time.
Can I Replace The Desiccated Coconut With Fresh Coconut?
Yes, you can. The traditional recipe actually had fresh coconut, but we use desiccated coconut since it saves the time involved in grating. The fresh coconut needs to be grated fine and you can use this instead.
What’s The Difference Between The Bol De Coc, Coconut Cake And The Thalie Sweet?
Thalie Sweet, Coconut cake, and the Bol de Coc are traditional East Indian cakes based on our Portuguese cultural heritage. However, the Bol de Coc is made using both egg whites and yolks, while the Thalie sweet uses only egg whites to maintain its light color and characteristic light airiness whereas coconut cake uses extra yolks to keep it soft.
If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.
Christmas with the Rebellos:
East Indian Meals & Desserts from Abby's Plate
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- Semolina Date and Orange cake
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Although Sarah has worked in travel for 15 years and specializes in Africa, she loves music, wine, food, and travel. Armed with her Canon, she’s on a mission to photograph food showcasing her East Indian community’s traditional recipes on the blog. And Abby is forever grateful!