Rava kesari as known in Southern states or Sooji ka Halwa as popularly known in Northern region is an anytime dish as dessert or even as vrat ka prasad. Often one finds lumpy texture either because sugar crystallizes and forms lumps of sooji or possibly because inadequate water gives way for lumps when sugar is added. Standard recipes suggest two measures of water for a measure of semolina that should be sufficient but it can fail even experts at times.
A simplified method that overcomes all these hurdles and makes it super easy for the first-timers to handle with ease is to cook the sweet in its steam whereby even the flavor is enhanced compared to traditional method. An ideal vessel for making this dish is a pressure pan or a Dutch oven (basically a heavy-bottomed thick vessel with a tight lid). This method has been successfully tried by many culinary experts and referred to as “autolysis” by one food group. I disagree with the term andthe technique is what I mention here. We work on the principle of high temperature where the food is auto-cooked in contrast to autolysis, where the enzyme works on the substrate and breaks it down. Enzymes cannot work at this high temperature. When boiling water is added to the base ingredient it helps in swelling up of the food particles and closed /sealed environment retains the steam and flavors too.
This will work well for uppuma too and any porridge kind of preparation.
Semolina 1 cup (1 measure)
Sugar 1½ cups (1½ measures) I used 2 measures as our family has supersweet tooth 🙂
Clarified butter/Ghee ¼ cup (¼ measure. In case you like more fat in your dish you can make it ½ measure)
water 3 cups (3 measures)
Kesar color 1 pinch
Saffron strands 1 pinch
Milk to soak saffron 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder ½ tsp
Cashew nut 10 (broken to small pieces)
Raisins 1 tbsp
Soak the saffron strands in a small bowl of milk and let it release the color.
Heat water in a saucepan and as it starts boiling add sugar and the kesar color to it and wait for it bubble.
While the sugar syrup is getting ready, take one spoon of ghee in the pressure pan and roast the cashew on slow fire till it turns golden in color. Add the raisins and as soon as they swell up transfer them to a dish to be used for garnishing later.
Add the remaining ghee to the pan and roast the semolina on low flame till the aroma is released.
Keeping the pan on low flame, transfer the sugar syrup to the sooji in the pan quickly and also the saffron in milk. Add cardamom and as soon as you the mix bubbling close the pan with the lid and add the weight.
Switch off the flame and wait patiently for 15 to 20 minutes for the process to complete.
After the required time to auto-cook open the lid and transfer to a bowl and garnish with the dry fruits.
The ingredients have been given in measures so it becomes easy for one to cook in large measures too with ease as for parties.
Cauliflower, in most forms, is no favorite for G. Two forms that he doesn’t mind are stew and paruppu usili. Pualo again is not so objectionable! I thought something slightly spicy but not too chunky will possibly satisfy his palate and it was not really a bad idea!
A dish that is not too time-consuming either this turned out quite to our needs.
Ingredients (3 servings)
Medium sized cauliflower 1 (to give 2 cups of small florets)
Fresh peas 1 cup (optional)
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Cooking oil 1 tbsp
For the spice mix
Dried red chillies 2
Black peppercorns 1 tsp ( 1½ tsp if you like it more spicy)
Coriander seeds 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Desiccated coconut 1 tbsp (2 tbsp when fresh coconut used)
Curry leaves 3 sprigs
Tamarind 2 scales (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
Wash the cauliflower florets in running water and blanch them in a bowl of hot water containing turmeric powder and a little salt. Cover the bowl and leave the florets for 5 minutes. Drain the florets in a colander and take the florets in a bowl along with peas and microwave for 5 minutes to cook the vegetables. Alternately cook the florets and peas in pressure cooker for one whistle.
While the veggies are cooking, dry roast the spice mix ingredients in a pan on low flame till the color changes and the aroma starts rifting. Cool them and blend them to get a fine powder.
Heat oil in a pan and temper with cumin seeds. Add the vegetables to the pan and stir gently. Add alt and the spice mix and saute to get the florets coated with the spice uniformly.
Serve hot with rotis or rice.
Onions are optional and in case you love the onion in your fry saute the finely cut onions in the tempered oil till translucent, before adding the florets and peas.
If you prefer lemon juice to tamarind, add the juice after removing the pan from the flame.
Come winter and it is time to revel in methi greens! I had a lovely surprise when a huge bunch flew in from Delhi! Luckily I had baby potatoes on hand and my Sunday couldn’t have been better. Although I have posted a methi-aloo combo that was with big potatoes and also it had onion and tomato with a different taste and flavor. Comparatively this dish required more efforts but certainly worth it.
Cleaned and washed methi leaves 1 cup
Baby potatoes ½ kg
Oil 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
For the spice mix
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Cumin powder ½ tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Tamarind paste/ thick pulp 1 tsp/ 1 tbsp
Add a cup of water and add ½ tsp salt to it and pressure cook the potatoes for three whistles. On cooling peel the potatoes and keep them ready in a shallow bowl. Add the spice mix and tamarind pulp and mix well and let it marinade for 30 minutes.
In the meantime cut the cleaned and thoroughly washed and drained fenugreek leaves.
Heat oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed pan and temper with cumin seeds.
Transfer the leaves to the wok, add a pinch of salt and saute on low flame for 5 to 7 minutes till the aroma is released.
Transfer the potatoes to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook on low flame till done.
Serve hot with chapathis or goes well with rice too.
A traditional Arabic cuisine call it Egyptian, Lebanese (nammoura), or Turkish (revani ), this dessert with a typical rosewater flavor or orange blossom flavor, is a favorite in Arabic homes. Typically made from semolina and most often with coconut it is soaked in sugar syrup and is savored by all! It is somewhat similar to kesari (sooji ka halwa) made in Indian homes most often. Unlike our dessert that is cooked over fire (shall soon post a traditional recipe and one that is made in microwave mode) this is baked and gives a grainy texture. Baking makes the dish simpler as one does not have to keep stirring strenuously to get a smooth mix as in cooking over the flame.
Often egg is used in this dessert for softness; this dish being eggless, yogurt was used for the spongy texture. If need be a little milk can also be used. The measure given here makes about 35 to 40 pieces.
Semolina 2½ cups
All purpose flour 1 tbsp
Dessicated coconut 2 tbsp or freshly grated coconut ½ cup
Caster sugar 1 cup
Melted butter ¼ cup (2 tbsp) + 1 tsp for roasting semolina
Vanilla essence ¼ tsp
Yogurt 1 cup (thick)
Baking soda 1 tsp
For the syrup
Sugar 1 cup
Water 1 cup
Rose water 1 tsp or rose essence ½ tsp
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Sliced almond 20
Roast the semolina in butter in a heavy-bottomed pan till it changes color slightly. Transfer it to a bowl and add the other ingredients viz sugar, yogurt, butter, coconut, baking soda, and essence. Mix well with a spatula to get a smooth mix. If the mix looks very thick loosen it with milk to get a thick batter consistency.
Preheat the oven to 200°C while working on the mix.
Grease a 12″ × 8″ baking tray and layer the tray with the batter. Let the tray have a ½” space for the mix to rise. Cut squares of 2″ × 2″ with a thick knife and arrange the sliced almonds in the center of each square. Leave the tray in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes or a little longer till the surface turns golden brown.
To enhance the caramelized look, brush the surface with milk half-way through baking.
While the mix is getting baked make the sugar syrup by adding water to sugar in a pan and boiling on low flame till the sugar melts. When the syrup starts boiling switch off the flame and add rose water and lemon juice and let the syrup cool.
Remove the tray from the oven and pour the syrup over the hot bake so that it gets soaked in the syrup. bake for another 5 minutes and let it cool to room temperature.
Leave the cooled tray in the refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes before separating the pieces.
Savor the flavor of rose and enjoy!
In case you have orange blossom water use the same in place of rose water.