This traditional sweet is served as a dessert for any occasion, be it a wedding or a birthday. If you are in a mood for an aromatic dessert, serve this with your evening tea. I made this on the first day of snow this winter. I was in the mood for some kesari bhaath on a snowy and cold evening. The warm and camphorous aroma of the cardamom filled my tiny kitchen. This saffron colored wonder did perk up the black and white evening.
Kesari Baath is a sweet and creamy dessert spiced with aromatic cardamom and flecked with strands of saffron and ghee fried cashewnuts. ‘Kesari’ means Saffron in Sanskrit and ‘Baath’ means a dish made with rice or ground grain in Kannada. Every region in India has it’s own take on this dessert. Sojji in Tamil, Rava kesari in Telugu, Kesari bhaath in kannada, Sooji halwa in Hindi, Sheera in Marathi. Some variations of kesari is with banana, pineapple or mango. And the color differs from pale yellow to plain white. I like it just saffron/orange colored. The basic ingredients are semolina, milk, ghee and sugar. Serves 2
- 1/2 cup Semolina/ Cream of wheat/ Sooji/ Rava * can be substitued with ‘wheat farina’. Sooji will cook up flufflier than farina.
- 1 cup Sugar * adjust as per preference
- 1/4 cup Ghee/ Clarified butter * available in Indian grocery shops
- 1/2 cup Milk * I used 2% dairy milk for a creamy consistency. Can be substituted with soy milk/almond milk
- 1 cup Water
- 1/4 teaspoon Green Cardamom (finely ground) / Cardamom extract
- 12 – 15 Cashewnuts
- Pinch of Saffron strands
- Pinch of Saffron/ Orange food coloring
- Pinch of Salt (optional) * a little salt compliments sugar
- Heat one tablespoon ghee in a non stick saute’ pan. Add cashewnuts and roast till golden brown. Keep aside.
- Roast semolina on low in the same pan till it emits a nutty aroma. Remove from when golden brown. Set aside.
- Boil water and milk in a sauce pan.
- Add the semolina little by little to the mixture taking care not to form lumps. Stir continuously.
- Cover the pan with a lid and simmer on medium heat till all the liquid is absorbed by the semolina. It takes less than five minutes. The semolina has to be cooked well before adding the sugar, if not kesari will have a grainy texture.
- Add sugar and a pinch of salt, stir well. Add the food colouring. Stir well and break if there are any lumps.
- Add rest of the ghee and cardamom powder, give a good stir. Kesari is done when the semolina loosens up, leaves the sides of the sauce pan and has a flowery, creamy texture.
Plate the prepared kesari in a serving dish. Garnish with cashewnuts and saffron strands. Serve warm or cold. It tastes delicious either way.Tip – Use of ghee solidifies the pudding when cold, especially during winters. If you intend to serve the pudding later, I suggest you use half measure of ghee (2 tablespoons) and half measure of oil (2 tablespoons). Warm the pudding before serving. This keeps the pudding fluffy.