IT IS handy to have a packet of semolina or sugee flour (rava in Tamil) in the pantry, especially when in need of a quick-fix breakfast or dessert.
Some of the dishes that can be prepared with semolina include uppuma, rava tosai, rava idli and rava payasam.
Semolina often comes to the rescue when visitors come unannounced to my home, and there is nothing sweet to offer them.
My favourite quick-fix dessert is kesari – a common sweet treat at Indian restaurants.
Some of my friends prefer the easy way out and opt for kesari mix packets instead of preparing it from scratch.
Kesari is best made with ghee, which lends it that rich, nutty and creamy taste.
Although relatively easy to make, there are variations in the measurement as one family’s recipe differs from the other.
Malaysians usually refer to cup measures when exchanging notes on kesari recipes.
Some cooks go by a 1:2 ratio (one cup semolina: two cups water) while others prefer the 1:3 ratio.
Having inherited my mother’s 1:2 cup recipe, I decided to weigh the ingredients in grammes for fastidious cooks who prefer using a weighing scale. It does not matter which cup you use. It can be a small cup, a mug or a glass – the ratio remains 1:2.
The sugar content is ¾ cup. If you want it sweeter, increase the amount.
My mother uses raisins in her kesari but I have jazzed it up with a combination of golden raisins, black raisins, sultanas and cranberries as I find the colour contrast rather pretty.
The kesari colour mentioned here can be found at Indian grocery shops, alternatively, one can use yellow or orange colouring.
It is advisable to use a low tray or plate as the mould for the kesari.
Here, I have used a six-inch baking tray which fits this recipe and cuts into 25 squares.Kesari
Semolina (sugee) - 120g
Sugar - 135g to 140g
Water - 350g
Sultanas - 20g
Golden raisins - 10g
Black raisins - 10g
Cranberries - 10g
Cashew nuts - 20g (cut into smaller pieces)
Ghee - 4/5 tbsp full
Cardamom - 6 pods (pounded)
Kesari colour - ¼ tsp level
Baking tray - 6 inch
1. Toast semolina in a pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until fragrant and to prevent semolina from turning brown.
Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat 4 tbsp ghee in a pot.
3. Fry sultanas, raisins and cranberries. Remove dry fruits from the oil once they plump up.
4. Fry cashew nuts until golden brown, remove and set aside.
5. Add 350g water to hot ghee. Add kesari colour and cardamom powder.
6. Once water and ghee mixture comes to a boil, slowly pour in toasted semolina while stirring.
7. Continue stirring until the mixture binds.
8. Add sugar. The sugar once dissolved will dilute the mixture slightly.
9. Keep stirring as the mixture solidifies and clumps together.
10. Add fruits and nuts and combine ingredients. Add an additional tablespoon of ghee (optional).
11. Remove from heat and transfer the kesari into a tray/ plate.
12. Press down with a spatula. Wait for it to cool completely before cutting.
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