One of the simplest sweets, a kesari or Halwa is made of semolina or rava and is usually the go-to sweet in many South Indian households. Very simply put, a kesari is a sweet sweet upma.
The usual way to make a Kesari is to make it exactly like a plain upma and substitute salt with sugar. Most people add a bit of orange colour to get the distinctive orange hue. During Navaratri last year, I decided to make this on one of the days and added pineapple to it to make Pineapple Kesari. Because I didn’t have any colour on hand, I used a bit of saffron which is why my Kesari is pale cream or yellow. If orange or yellow colour is used, it would have a bright yellow colour.
- 1 cup semolina or rava, roasted
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups water
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 12-15 cashewnuts
- 1 tbsp raisins
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tin canned pineapple
- 1-2 drops natural yellow or orange colour
- 1 large pinch saffron
- Dry roast the semolina until it starts to emit an aroma. If it is already pre-roasted, you just need to dry roast it for a couple of minutes.
- Boil the water in a kettle or pot and keep aside, letting it be boiling until needed.
- Heat 2 tbsp ghee in the same pan in which the semolina was roasted and when the ghee becomes warm and fry the cashew nuts until they are golden brown. Drain the ghee and remove to a kitchen towel and keep aside.
- Fry the raisins for a couple of seconds and remove and keep aside.
- Keep aside some of the pineapple and chop it into tiny pieces and keep aside. Blend the balance pineapple into a fine puree and keep aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp ghee and fry the pineapple pieces for a few minutes. Add in the puree and saute covered for about two minutes.
- Now add the sugar and stir well. Add in the water and let the water come to a rolling boil. Add in any colour if you are using as well as the saffron.
- Now add the roasted semolina and quickly stir so that there no lumps form. Add in the cardamom powder as well as the fried cashew nuts and raisins and stir constantly so that lumps are avoided. A rule of thumb I use is that to make the kesari slightly watery so that it does not harden as it cools. Once the water has been absorbed, cover and serve hot.
- If the kesari is cold, you can warm it slightly before serving as this sweet tastes better warm rather than cold.
- If you are not using tinned pineapple, you will need to cook the pineapple pieces for a bit and soften it before adding the semolina.