Diwali Special: AF(Allergy Friendly) Coconut Cake!

I have grown up in India and this time of the year the Indian community comes alive all over the world as we celebrate ‘the good and happy light’ within each one of us in the form of a vibrant festival called Diwali – ‘the festival of lights’. This post is dedicated to my mom and dad who made Diwali so special for my bro and me in our growing-up years – complete with new clothes, fireworks and loads of homemade goodies.  
Mom and dad doting on my little one...

 Homes are beautifully decorated  with lamps and traditional artwork. Children and adults alike dress up in their best and brightest and the atmosphere lights up to a million fireworks. Moms slog it out for days in the kitchen to whip up an amazing variety of sweet and savory items alongside a sumptuous festive lunch.

However, little surprise – almost none of the dishes are allergy friendly. But, my little one loves this fun-filled festival so much that over the years, I have slowly tweaked mom’s recipes to make Diwali a joyous and AF (Allergy Friendly) one. Over the next 2 days, leading up to the big day on Oct 26th – I will spread the light of joy and the aroma of yummy dishes from my home to yours…

Coconut cake or as my mom would call it ‘coconut burfee’ was one of my favorite sweets growing up. They taste a lot like coconut macaroons but even better because they are AF (Allergy Friendly)! Before I go any further, I would like to emphasize that ‘coconut is not a nut’. It is just a fruit of one of the varieties of palm trees.

So, here goes…AF Coconut Cake 🙂

AF Coconut Cake - yumm!

Yield: Approximately 15 pieces


  1. Fresh coconut gratings: 1 cup (Available in the frozen section of South Asian stores)
  2. Sugar: 1 cup
  3. Saffron: 3-4 strings

    Saffron strings.
  4. Cardamom: 2-3

    Whole cardamom and the black seeds inside used for flavoring.
  5. Raisins: 1 teaspoon

    Raisins before being fried.
  6. Water 1/3 cup


  1. Grease the bottom and edges of a square baking dish and keep it aside.
  2. In a small deep dish, heat a teaspoon of oil on a low to medium flame. Add the rasins to the heated oil and stir. In a couple of minutes the raisins will absorb the oil and swell up and also brown a little. Remove it from the pan and keep it aside. This process helps release the flavors in the raisin and also softens it for use in desserts.

    Fried, swollen, browned raisins!
  3. 1/8 th of a teaspoon of cardamom powder can be used if you have the powdered version readily available. However, like with any spice or condiment – freshly ground cardamom tastes way better. Pop open a 2-3 cardamoms and loosen the black seeds inside. Crush it a fine powder in a small mortar and pestle. You can also use a rolling pin to crush it. Keep it aside.
  4. In a heavy bottomed vessel or good non-stick pan, combine the sugar and water and place the pan on a low to medium flame.
    Sugar solution

  5. Add the coconut gratings once the sugar has completely dissolved and keep stirring.
    The moisture needs to evaporate for the mixture to come together.

    Add fresh grated coconut to the sugar solution.
  6. The mixture will become thick and gooey in about 20 minutes. At this stage add 1 tablespoon of any butter substitute or oil and continue stirring keeping a close watch . You can skip adding any fat at this point but it helps the mixture come away from the edges of the pan more easily as the moisture evaporates completely.

    Almost done...
  7. In approximately 5 minutes, the mixture will start rising up a little and leave the edges of the vessel. Add the cardamom powder and saffron strings and mix well.

    Add raisins and saffron once the mixture dries up and leaves the edges of the vessel.
  8. Immediately pour the mixture into the greased dish and spread it evenly. The back of the wooden ladle can be used to spread the mixture out evenly.

    Pour the cooked mixture into a greased dish.
  9. When it has cooled down slightly, cut the mixture with a greased knife into small squares gently.

    Cut the cake when it has cooled down slightly.
  10. Let it cool completely and now you will be able to seperate the squares easily. Pry the squares apart gently to avoid breaking them.

    Coconut cake
  11. Store in an air-tight containerfor upto 2 weeks in a cool, dark place 🙂

Keep following my ‘Diwali Special’ series. Tomorrow we will whip up a batch of crunchy rice sticks.

2 thoughts on “Diwali Special: AF(Allergy Friendly) Coconut Cake!”

  1. Thank you so much Meena 🙂 This is definitely one of the most wonderful times of the year…

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