I visited Goa recently, and one of my must-do rituals while I am there is having a slice of the Bolo Sans Rival at one of my favorite cafes ever, the Infantaria at Calangute. The first time I had it, I clearly remember, I was so mesmerized by the sheer richness and smoothness of this cake, and the delicate taste of the cream and the cashews and the cake, that I had to had to add it my must-do list.
A Bolo Sans Rival, also called as a Bolo Sem Rival, literally means “A cake without rival” in Portuguese and is known to have French origins. Made with some of the best ingredients of meringue, butter cream, egg yolks and cashews. It is said that earlier the recipe was supposed to have almonds as well, but with time, and some say due to non-availability or due to increasing costs, they got replaced by cashews as cashews were easily and abundantly available here. However, it still gets garnished with almonds and some recipes even use almond extracts, maybe just to capture a whiff of the nostalgia of how the original recipe was when it came to Goa. The Bolo Sans Rival is one of the most expensive cakes in Goa, it could go to Rs.1200 to 1500 a kg. They say baking this no rival cake is an art, it is not something that can be found easily across all bakeries, there are few who actually bake it, and it is mostly the older generation who asks for it. And then there are tourists like me, who want to taste the authentic Portuguese Goan food, and look out for such offerings wherever you can find them. Plus, if you are a vegetarian like me, Portuguese Goan cuisine has limited options for you, and the Bolo Sans Rival is a super-welcome option. The recipes for this cake are generally passed down the generations, and it is only ordered on the most special occasions, it is by no means a common dessert. It has been thrown as a challenge to a lot of really good bakers, and not all succeed in making it to perfection. It is also quite popular in Philippines.
Infantaria is a must visit place in Goa each time I visit, and the things I have there for sure are chocolate rum balls, Russian cheese cake, Brownie Cheese cake, Chocolate Marzipan, the breakfast, the Bolo Sans Rival, Tequila Sunrise, and I could go on, the list is really a bit long.
The Bolo Sans Rival I have here, is rich and creamy. The cake is delicate, it could crumble a bit when you cut and has to be cut with a delicate hand. It is a layered cake, so there are alternate layers of cream and cake. It’s difficult, I guess, for anybody not to love this cake. The nutty meringue with soft, rich buttercream wins my heart each time I have a slice, and I can never stop with one slice.
People with sensitivity in their teeth might need to be extra careful, this cake would not be very merciful on the sensitivity and it could quite painful within a few bites. This cake needs no pairing or additional accompaniments, no drizzles and sprinkles, it is just royal and delicious as such.
Next time you are in Goa, make sure you have one. It’s not worth a miss.