What is Rava Kesari?
Rava Kesari, a sweet treat made using rava (aka sooji or semolina), is one of the most commonly prepared desserts in South India. Also called, simply, Kesari or Kesari Bath, it is almost always present as part of the lunch/dinner platter on festivals like Diwali and Navratri, poojas, weddings and other religious and social occasions. You will find this dish occupying pride of place in several restaurants in Tamilnadu and Karnataka, too. There is no wondering why this dish is so hugely popular – fragrant and delicious, gooey with ghee, well-made Rava Kesari is a shortcut to heaven (in a good way!), especially when served piping hot.
Is Rava Kesari different from Sheera and Sooji Ka Halwa?
Rava Kesari is similar to the Sooji Ka Halwa or Sheera of North India, but there are subtle differences. Rava Kesari is softer and less dry than Sheera. The colour of both is different too – Rava Kesari has a pretty, orange hue (all thanks to food colouring!) as opposed to the natural brown shade of the Sheera. Fruits like pineapple and mango are often added to Rava Kesari, to make it more flavourful and delicious.
Home-made Rava Kesari with no artificial colours
The version of Rava Kesari we make at home, however, has lesser ghee than its restaurant counterparts. It is also free of synthetic food colouring; I use saffron to give it a beautiful yellow hue. It isn’t exactly a guilt-free indulgence, but a hot favourite at home and I make it quite often. I love how easy it is to make – it just takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish!
How to make Kesari Bath or Rava Kesari, my way
Today, I am going to share with you how to make Kesari Bath from scratch, my way. You must try out this fuss-free dessert this Diwali, if you haven’t already.
Here we go.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1/2 cup fine rava (semolina or sooji)
- 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 2 pinches of saffron (kesar) threads
- 13/4 cup sugar or to taste
- 10-12 cashewnuts
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 2 pinches of cardamom powder
1. Chop the cashewnuts roughly. Keep ready.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the rava, and turn the flame down to low-medium.
3. Saute the rava in the ghee till it becomes nice and aromatic, keeping the flame low-medium. This should take 6-7 minutes. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn.
4. While the rava is cooking, take the water in another pan. Place on high flame and add in the strands of saffron. Let the water come to a rolling boil, then turn the flame down to low-medium.
5. When the rava is done sauteeing, slowly add it to the hot water in the other pan, stirring constantly to prevent the formation of lumps.
6. Keep cooking on low-medium heat till most of the water has been absorbed by the rava, 3-4 minutes.
7. Add sugar to the pan. Mix well. Continue cooking on low-medium heat till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. This should take 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins. Turn flame down to low-medium. Let the cashewnuts start browning and the raisins plump up. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, pour the ingredients over the rava mixture cooking in the other pan. Mix well.
9. Cook everything together till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan, as stated above. Switch off gas when the mixture is still runny – do not overcook it. Your Rava Kesari is ready! Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Tips & Tricks
1. Use fine sooji or rava (rather than the bigger, coarser type), for best results.
2. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences.
3. You may increase the quantity of ghee you use. The above quantity was just perfect for us.
4. Make sure you saute the rava well in ghee, otherwise the kesari might have a ‘raw’ feel to it. You don’t have to brown the rava – just cook it till it starts emanating a nice fragrance.
5. You can use milk instead of water, in the above Rava Kesari recipe. Alternatively, you may use a mix of half water and half milk. I prefer using only water.
6. Make sure the cashewnuts and raisins do not get burnt, while frying them up.
7. Do not overcook the Rava Kesari. Just cook till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. Overcooking might make the kesari dry.
8. Orange food colour can be used in the above Rava Kesari recipe too. I have coloured the kesari naturally, though, using saffron.
9. Keep the Rava Kesari a bit runny, as it hardens quite a bit on cooling.
10. There’s a bit of multi-tasking involved in the making of this dish, as you can see from the above Rava Kesari recipe. Movements have to be quick so as to arrive at the perfect end result. It is best to keep handy all the ingredients needed to make the Rava Kesari.
11. The Rava Kesari is, mostly, cooked on low-medium heat. Regular stirring is essential, to get a lump-free, delicious Rava Kesari.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!