Rawa Kesari Or Kesari Bath Or Pineapple Sheera – is the first dish (other one is filter coffee, off course) that I had learned to make after moving to Bangalore almost a decade back. Living out of a suitcase, erratic work schedules and frequent travel plans means surviving on bare minimal resources at home and we were surviving literally on takeaway foods, at that time. Weekends were essentially a lavish South Indian brunch either from Udupi hotels, Bhramin’s cafes or from Adyaar’s etc. A delightful combo of masala dosa, rawa dosa, poori sagu, set dosa, idli -vada and kesari and khara bath and so on. It was the kesari bath that attracted me the most. The usual sooji halwa never tasted so delicious before.
Up north and even in Bengal, we do prepare sooji halwa, but the flavors, taste and texture were way different from ours. Little did I know then, that Kesari Bath or Rawa Kesari is one of the signature dish of Karnataka.
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. Or better add as a syrup.
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.
I do not use food colors in my food. Hence the color is as closest to its natural form.
- 1 cup Rava / Semolina, fine variety
- 2 cup Water
- 1/2 cup Pineapple chopped
- 1/2 cup Raisins & Cashew
- Saffron : a large pinch
- 1 cup Sugar
- 5-6 tbsp Ghee
- 4-5 Green cardamoms, coarsely crushed
- 2 tbsp Orange juice , optional
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.
Remove the raisins and cashew and in the same pan roast the semolina or rava. Roast it lightly till it leaves its aroma.
In a separate pan bring 2 cups of water to rapid boil, add the cardamoms and sprinkle the saffron on it.
Let the saffron release its color.
Very slowly add the semolina in the boiling water, break the clump immediately if forms any.
Stir it continually till the semolina absorb all the water.
Lower the heat to minimum, cover and let it steam for 5 more minutes. You can switch off the gas too at this time.
After 5 or 6 minutes, you will find that grains have become fluffy. This indicates that semolina is fully cooked.
Keep the gas at medium, add the sugar.
Stir it well, let the sugar melt and add remaining ghee.
Add chopped pineapples, raisins and cashew at this stage.
Stir it well till the halwa leaves the sides of the pan.
If you are using orange juice, you can sprinkle it now over the halwa.
Check for the sweetness.
Switch off the gas, cover for 2 more minute and serve rava kesari hot or warm
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 occasions, some also like to garnish it with grated and chopped coconut. Teaming it up with poori it can be a good breakfast option too, specially during festivals.