Rava kesari / Semolina / sooji ka halwa and tale of confused Indian gastronome

I need something sweet today that can be made easily without fretting too much, like this rawa kesari, to expel the unpleasant thoughts from my mind. After wasting my time for full 40 minutes glued before the idiot box and watching an awful food show, I seriously need something sweet to eat today. In anticipation that it will save my day and will make me feel better.  Anyway, it is a bad idea to start a blog post in terrible mood.

rava kesari

Before you lost your patience and wonder what all the brouhaha is about, let me tell you why I am feeling so grumpy today ?

Yesterday night I happened to watch this fateful desi food show . All you need is a pretty face to host a food show in India. That  will give you the required license to tell all the myths that surrounds your subject, and we poor Indians will believe it. Why not ? Our favourite actress has spoken those divine words .

And we poor food enthusiast thought that fresh creams can be obtained from hanging the curd till death and Tiramisu is a French dessert. Sorry Italians. We thought you survive on pizzas and pastas only. Thank God after that tiramisu blunder, I sincerely hope that Italians wont send their Roman army knocking at our door.

So why cry when an Indian housewife (we presume she is not so-called gourmand) thought that those pretty looking blueberries are none other than jamuns hanging from her neighbour’s trees, karondas are nothing but cranberries. I remembered when poor Avocados made their debut in Indian markets, it was sold as “vilaayti amrudphoreighn guava. Yes, everything has its roots in India only. :(

In my humble opinion the hostess of the show has right to believe what she wanted to and can feed her poor husband the desi blueberries or vilayti amrud, but when she is hosting a food show on television, she and the other so-called gourmand of the channel need to do their homework first. After watching phoreighn food shows my loyalty shifted and our desi ones looks so primitive now, straight out from the Flintstones’ era.

So my humble request to all the food enthusiast of this great country, stop watching the desi food shows and start reading the food blogs. We bloggers do not compose the post in our dreams. We do thorough research before posting anything on our blogs.

semolina pudding

“Stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts”. Rightly so. In such situations my only resort is a good fulfilling bowl of dessert, not those short bites. So here comes the rawa kesari to cheer me up.

Every region in India has its own version of making this, hence different naming systems too. Rawa kesari, sooji halwa or sheera all points to the same thing but here I will stick to the name “rawa kesari” as this recipe is in south Indian style inspired from darshini or udipi food joints of Bangalore. Rawa kesari also known as kesar bath is a regular breakfast option in darshini food joints and when I discovered this version I was so delighted that I decided to never return to the other version of this recipe. It was smooth, not sticky and dry, flavours infused with pineapple and saffron. The old sooji ka halwa never tasted so delicious before.

Well what might be the reasons for this ? The answer lies in the cooking technique. My earlier recipe of sooji ka halwa was quiet insipid, it lacks everything from flavor to taste and was quiet unpalatable. The new discovery renewed my interest in this and since then it becomes my most favourite way to break my day.

Two things that I discovered about making a good rava kesari are :

1) Add sugar only in the later stage of cooking.

2) Add the lightly toasted semolina slowly in rapidly boiling water and do not over cook it. This process is similar to making “cream of wheat” and was mentioned in the packet itself. I adopt the same process here too.

Pineapple and saffron brings out the flavor and color in it and I sometimes do not shy away from adding little orange juice to it. Love the hint of tanginess in it.

sooji ka halwa

 

Rawa kesari / Semolina / sooji ka halwa and tale of confused Indian gastronome
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Rava kesari or semoilna pudding infused with pineapple and saffron flavor and an ocassional orange juice for the hint of tanginess in it.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • Rava / Semolina (fine variety) : 1 cup
  • Water : 2 cup
  • Pineapple (chopped) : ½ cup
  • Raisins & Cashew : ½ cup
  • Saffron : a large pinch
  • Sugar : 1 cup more or less
  • Ghee (clarified butter) : 4-5 tbsp
  • Green cardamoms (coarsely crushed) : 4-5
  • Orange juice : 2 tbsp (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a non stick pan warm up one tablespoon ghee and fry the raisins and cashew. Raisins will plump up and cashew will turn golden.
  2. Remove the raisins and cashew and in the same pan roast the semolina or rava. roast it lightly till it leaves its aroma.
  3. In a separate pan bring 2 cups of water to rapid boil, add the cardamoms and sprinkle the saffron on it.
  4. Let the saffron release its color.
  5. Very slowly add the semolina in the boiling water, break the clump immediately if forms any.
  6. Stir it continually till the semolina absorb all the water.
  7. Lower the heat to minimum, cover and let it steam for 5 more minutes. You can switch off the gas too at this time.
  8. After 5 or 6 minutes, you will find that grains have become fluffy. This indicates that semolina is fully cooked.
  9. Keep the gas at medium, add the sugar.
  10. Stir it well, let the sugar melt and add remaining ghee.
  11. Add chopped pineapples, raisins and cashew at this stage.
  12. Stir it well till the halwa leaves the sides of the pan.
  13. If you are using orange juice, you can sprinkle it now over the halwa.
  14. Check for the sweetness.
  15. Switch off the gas, cover for 2 more minute and serve rava kesari hot or warm
Notes
Instead of chopped pineapple, you can use pineapple puree too. Add the pineapple puree only after adding the sugar.
The grains should be fluffy and rava kesari should not be sticky and dry. It will be moist to taste.
If you want to be little adventures, then do add the orange juice. Otherwise it is optional.
This taste best with fine variety of semolina also known as chiroti rava.

Rava kesari is a traditional Indian dessert, worthy of special ocassions, some also like to garnish it with grated and chopped coconut. Teaming it up with poori / puffed bread it can be a good breakfast option too specially during festive days.

Happy cooking

Sukanya