When we talk of festivals we talk of merry, of joy, of happiness, of sharing, but mostly of sweets! In a couple of days, Mauritius will be in full celebration of Ugaadi, the Telugu New Year and Gudi Padwa, the Marathi New Year; this got me motivated to share with you a piece of culinary heaven – the famed ‘Rava Kesari’ with pineapple. Rich, fruity, nutty and royally festive by all means, this sweet dish is very famous in India and known by various names across the country.
The base ingredient is semolina (greo), also known as Rava or Sooji in Indian languages and Kesar is the queen of all spices, ‘Saffron’. So basically, Rava Kesari is semolina cooked with water or milk, sugar, nuts and generously flavoured with Saffron. In this recipe, pineapple in included in the dish to add even more layers to its deliciousness. This pinneapple version of the dish is very popular in the South Indian state of Karnataka and is called ‘Kesari Bath’ – it is also called by this name even when coloured and flavoured with other ingredients than Kesar. In old Kannada, the dish is called ‘shali-anna’. Mind you, it is a breakfast regular! Rava Kesari is also used as ‘Naivedyam’ – scared food offering during several ceremonies .
The dish would definitely appeal to Mauritian palates as it is basically a more refined, rich and flavourful version of the local ‘greo’ preparations.
The first time I discovered Rava Kesari, was at a Rama Navami prayer at our family friend’s place and I was only 6 years old. The taste experience was profound that it stayed with me throughout till adulthood, where I kept on experimenting through recipes and tips till I arrived with the version I find best.
There are several methods of preparing the Rava Kesari. I have tried over and over to get the consistency and texture that i like the most. And yes, be prepared to indulge, this dish is all about sugar and ghee – once in a while you can! 🙂
Here is the recipe.
- Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 cup
- White refined Sugar – 1 and half cups
- Semolina (Rava, Sooji) fine one – 2 cups
- Pineapple, cut into small pieces – 1 cup or to taste
- Saffron strands – A generous pinch or to taste
- Cardamom – a few pods or to taste
- Almonds – around 10 or to taste
- Cashew nuts – around 20 or to taste
- In a heavy bottom pan, on slow to medium heat, dry roast the semolina till a nice aroma comes. Be careful not to turn it brown. Set the roasted semolina in a plate aside.
- Halve the cashew nuts, slice the almonds and cut the pinneapple into small pieces.
- In a heavy bottom pan (preferably non stick), pour in the ghee and let in heat well. Add cashew nuts and fry them till golden brown.
- When cashews are done, add pineapple pieces, saute a little and add sugar.
- When when the sugar is well incorporated with the ghee, pour in the water, the saffron strands and a few cardamom pods, opened. Note that cardamom powder can also be used, but should then be added at the end.
- When ebullition starts, add the roasted semolina a little at a time to the water. Mix very well to ensure that no lumps are formed. Continue cooking on slow fire in the semolina mix leaves the side of the pan.
- Garnish with sliced almonds, saffron strands and make everyone’s palates happy. 🙂
- I have used fine semolina, which the most easily available in Mauritius. The coarser one can also be used, it will yield a different but nice texture. Then the water should be adjusted a little. I find the ratio of 1:2 ideal for fine semolina. For one cup of semolina, use two cups of water. Use this ratio if you wish to prepare larger quantities of Rava Kesari.
- Water can be substituted by milk. But i if you really want the flavour of milk in the dish, substitute one cup of water with milk.
- Food colouring can be used to enhance the yellow appearance. I personally like the natural colour of saffron 🙂
- The amount of ghee can be adjusted to taste or maybe health. But Rava Kesari is known for generous Ghee element. Also, if preparing for ritual offering, do not hesitate on the ghee.
- Sugar can also be adjusted to taste.
Copyright: Devaraj Moothoosamy. Please share this article in a respectful and ethical manner, by mentioning the source. Usage of photos from this article is strictly prohibited without prior authorisation. Kindly feel free to contact me at any time.