Alaka Wali's Fundraising Page
Fundraising Header image
Alaka Wali's Fundraising Page
Fundraising Page Image

Kashi Wali’s Saffron Cheesecake

This recipe was invented by Kashi Wali, my Mother, soon after she came from India to the United States.  She and her husband loved to entertain friends and colleagues, and it occurred to her that putting a new twist on a standard American desert would please her guests.  She used the Joy of Cooking recipe for “cheesecake cockaigne”  and added an “Indian” flavor to it by using two very special spices—cardamom and saffron.  Both of these spices are used in India for very special sweet dishes,  such as Shrikand,  a creamy sweet yoghurt desert. When I was in college and lived in a coop, I made the cheesecake for my dorm mates, and they gave it an award! Ever since, whenever I entertain guests and want to do something special, I make this cheesecake.  Now, I share this recipe with my children and with all of you!

Click here to watch the full video by Monona Wali.

For a 9” pie pan:

For the graham cracker crust:

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
  • Mix crumbs and butter and press into 9 or 10” pie pan.  Use a spring form pan if you like.


  • 3 packages of cream cheese
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 or 4 large eggs
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ to 1 tsp. cardamom powder or crushed cardamom seeds
  • 1-2 tsps saffron threads, broken up and dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water

 Bring cream cheese to room temperature and soften. In a medium bowl, beat until creamy (about 30 seconds).  Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. 

Add the eggs one at a time, beating them in and making sure they are fully blended in. 

Add the half and half and beat until mix is creamy.

Add in the saffron and cardamom and stir to thoroughly blend.

Pour batter into the crust, smooth top and place pan on a cookie sheet. Bake in 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or till cake slightly puffs up or just barely jiggles when tapped.

Remove cake from oven and let cool. 

Then spread this sour cream topping on the cake:

Sour cream topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • ¼- ½ tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp saffron, dissolved in hot water.

Mix all ingredients together and keep chilled till spread on cheesecake.

Return the cake to oven set on high heat or broil for about 7 minutes till topping starts to bubble.

Remove and chill cheesecake overnight, preferably or for several hours before serving.

If you like, add fresh strawberries or other berry toppings!

ABOUT Taste from Home

Taste From Home is brought to you by the Chicago Cultural Alliance. Our mission is to connect, promote, and support centers of cultural heritage for a more inclusive Chicago. 

Taste from Home is collection of recipes and stories inspired by the food that defines who we are and where we come from. As we are all home exploring new recipes and cuisines, we encourage you to share a recipe and story with us that connects you to your family and cultural heritage. 

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today, if you are able. If you are unable to donate, you can still participate by sharing a recipe by using hashtags #tastefromhome, #tastefromhomerecipe, & #chicagocultural on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Name Date Amount Comments
Michaela Marchi 08/20/2020 $103.30 In honor of Alaka Wali and her mother and for all our mothers who feed us their hope, love and creativity to help shape who we become. Alaka has been a mentor, inspiration, teacher, dear friend and like a mother to me and a treasure to work with during my formative years with the Cultural Connections program. Thank you always...
Melissa Hilton 08/17/2020 $103.30 Donated in admiration for Alaka and her dedication to building cross-cultural alliances that strengthen our community. And for her delicious recipe!
Alaka Wali 08/16/2020 $103.30  
Ellen Galland 08/14/2020 $103.30  
David Farren 08/11/2020 $51.80 Cant wait to try it!
Jamie Lewis 08/10/2020 $20.91  
Susan Baird 08/10/2020 $206.28  
Michael Hubbard 08/10/2020 $51.80  
Maria Pinto 08/10/2020 $51.80  
Rebecca Janowitz 08/08/2020 $103.30 Lovely video!
Lynn Bolles 08/08/2020 $26.06 My Georgia born, (1916-1995) Mother was raised in NJ in an immigrant Jewish community. She made a lemon infused cheesecake inspired by childhood friends’ kitchens.
Shashi Agrawal 08/07/2020 $50.00  
Shanti Hubbard 08/07/2020 $21.12  
Sheila Dessalines 08/06/2020 $50.00  
Sophia Twichell 08/06/2020 $103.30  
Amina J. Dickerson 07/28/2020 $103.30 In honor of Alaka for her vision in founding CAC, and in honor of Angel Ysaguirre,one of this year's honorees.
Pamela Calvert 07/24/2020 $10.00  
  Total $1,262.87  
Report Abuse Edit My Page