Thursday, March 11, 2010


KESARI is a delicacy that can be enjoyed by one and all. Traditionally, Hindus make and serve it as prasad (food that is eaten after being offered to God). In our home it was made on every full moon day for a special prayer, and we kids loved it. Efforts to duplicate the way my mother made it, come in at second best. (Can anyone duplicate a mother's dishes exactly?)
The name kesari comes from 'made with kesar' (saffron), which gives this dish it's light creamy color.

Rawa or Sooji is the main ingredient. For those who don't have an Indian store near them, cream of wheat is an adequate substitute.
For those of you buying rawa/sooji, please make sure it is the medium coarse variety.
The very fine one and the large kind make for a different taste, so as Goldilocks would say the rawa for this dish has to be medium coarse to be 'just right'.

Originally this dish had to be made with equal quantities of rawa, sugar, ghee and water.
It would be drowned in ghee.
Over the years I have adapted this dish to our health needs, and here's the final recipe I use now.

1 cup rawa/sooji
3/4 cup sugar (if you have a very, very sweet tooth use 1 cup).
(I have used Splenda instead of sugar, with great results too).
1/2 to 3/4 cup ghee (melted and strained butter).
(Ghee can be made at home or bought in an Indian grocery store).
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk.
1/4 cup raisins, (wash and soak 5 mins).
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds
1/4 cup cashewnuts.
1 tsp cardamom powder.
One pinch (2-3 strands) saffron.

Mix milk and water. Put saffron in and boil two minutes.
In a small pan fry almonds, cashewnuts and raisins separately till light brown.
Raisins burn quickly so watch carefully, or omit this step.
This can be done in a bowl in the microwave as long as you watch and stir every thirty seconds till you get the right color.
Remove and keep aside.

Assemble all ingredients and keep by stove before you start this dish.
In a large pan, on medium heat, fry rawa with cardamom powder, stirring constantly for 5-7 mins.
It should not turn brown but just start smelling heavenly.
(Overfried rawa will have an overdone taste).
Add ghee and fry for 3 mins.
Add water, milk, and raisins, stirring constantly till done...there should be no lumps.
When all the liquid is absorbed, add sugar.
Mix and leave on medium low for 5-7 minutes.
Stir halfway through, as it will stick to the bottom of the pan otherwise...this crust is delicious too and some insist it belongs to those who offer to wash the pan!

Remove kesari from stove and transfer to a glass dish. Sprinkle with nuts or mix them in.
Heat before serving. Enjoy.

Note: This is a quick dessert to make.
Amount of ghee can be lessened further to suit your needs.
The raisins make the kesari sweet, so amount of sugar can be adjusted to taste.
Freezes and re-heats well.

TIPS: Roast rawa without ghee, cool and store the day before.
Fry nuts/raisins the day before too.
If you HAVE to use the fine rawa reduce milk and water so total liquid to rawa proportion is 1:1.
If you HAVE to use the coarse rawa/cream of wheat, liquid to rawa proportion should be 2:1 (liquid being 2)

1 comment:

lan said...

this is my kind of dessert. i first tasted it at my sis-in-law as it was never an item at our home. loved it and made it once from a blog recipe. this one sounds even more scrumptious......