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.