The name “kesari”, a sweet dish brings to our mind the ghee dripping sweet always associated with weddings and other festivals in our Tamil Nadu state. Rava (Semolina) known as “sujji” in Hindi, is made from a soft kind of wheat known as Durham wheat. It does not take much time and labour to prepare this item and so any guests who just drop in, can be entertained with this sweet dish in a moment.
COOKING TIME : 20 minutes SERVINGS: 4
INGREDIENTS: 1. Rava (Semolina) : 1 Cup ( 175 grams) 2.Refined Sugar : 1 Cup ( 175 grams ) 3. Ghee (clarified butter) : 0.5 Cup ( 100 ml ) 4. Cardamom : 4 5. Cashew and Raisins : 10 Each 6. Food Colour or Saffron : a pinch 7. Milk : 0.5 Cup ( 100 ml ) 8. Water : 1.5 Cup ( 300 ml )
Over a moderate flame heat a skillet with one tablespoon ghee and fry the cashew nuts and then the raisins and keep them aside. In the remaining ghee, add the rava and fry it well for nearly 5 minutes till you get the light brownish yellow colour with good smell. Keep boiling water with milk in the next burner ready. Add the boiling water, milk with the colour to the fried rava and keep turning the rava with a ladle till it is completely cooked without lumps. Cooking of rava takes another 5 to 7 minutes only. Now add the sugar to this cooked rava along with crushed cardamom. Keep stirring it till the sugar melts and blends with the rava. Slowly add the ghee and the ghee is mostly absorbed in the sweet. Finally add the fried cashew and raisins.
Tips: Adding colour is your choice- you can add saffron or any colour of your liking to the milk.
POOSANIKAI HALWA: Ash Gourd known in Tamil as “Poosanikai” is a vegetable commonly found and used in every part of Tamil Nadu and most parts of India. In Tamil Nadu it is preferred as a vegetable cooked in “more kuzhambu” or as a side dish. It is grated and prepared as halwa ( a sweet dish) which is usually served in weddings and other functions. Ash Gourd is not high in calories but it is nutritious with good mineral and vitamin content.
COOKING TIME: 1 ½ hours
1. Ash Gourd (grated finely in a grater) : 6 Cups
2. Refined Sugar: 2 ½ Cups ( 500 grams)
3. Milk : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
4. Ghee (clarified butter) : 1 Cup ( 200 ml)
5. Cardamom : 3
6. Cashew : 15 no
7. Raisin : 15
8. Food Color : a pinch (optional)
Remove the skin and the centre pith with seeds and finely grate the ash gourd pieces. Keep it aside. Powder the cardamom and with a tablespoon of ghee fry the cashew nuts and raisins. Over moderate flame, keep a thick bottomed vessel and add the grated ash gourd pulp with water and milk and allow it to simmer till the water etc evaporates completely. Keep stirring this mixture continuously without getting it burnt and this will take 20 to 30 minutes to get the water absorbed well. Sugar should be added next with the cardamom powder and food color. When the sugar melts fully, add the ghee to the mixture. It will take another 15 to 20 minutes for the entire mixture to blend and it will stop sticking to the sides of the vessel, oozing out the ghee. Finally add the fried cashew and raisins and remove from stove.
Tips: Adding extra sugar and ghee is optional as per one’s taste.
This sweet can stay fresh for 4,5 days at room temperature. It takes some time to cook the grated ash gourd with water to evaporate and so instead it can be cooked in the pressure cooker allowing for one or two whistles.
Mysore Pak : Though the name suggests the place of origin of this sweet as Mysore, it is common in every part of Tamil Nadu. The very name brings to our mind the sweet dripping with ghee and laden with sugar. Earlier this Sweet was prepared at homes for all festivals and weddings. Originally it was prepared in such a way it was a bit hard and porous. These days’ people prefer the “melt in the mouth” version of this Sweet which is famous in Coimbatore and the recipe is given below. Though it is quite easy to make, the trick lies in getting the right consistency of the sugar syrup.
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
No of pieces: 10
1. Bengal gram flour (besan or kadalai mavu) : ½ Cup ( 60 grams)
2. Refined Sugar : 1 Cup ( 200 grams )
3. Ghee (clarified butter) : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
4. Oil ( Sun flower oil or any refined oil ) : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
5. Soda bi-carb (cooking soda) : a pinch
6. Water : ¼ Cup
Grease a plate well with a teaspoon of ghee. Sieve the gram flour with a teaspoon of hot ghee fry the flour lightly in a skillet over low flame for a couple of minutes. Again sieve the flour and remove hard lumps. In a thick bottomed vessel add the sugar with water and keep it over medium flame and stir it well to get the one thread consistency.
Heat another skillet with ghee and oil over low flame to keep it hot in another burner or stove. When the sugar syrup comes to the one thread consistency (Please see laddu recipe for making this one thread consistency), start adding the flour slowly with a ladle in one hand and with the other hand stirring the sugar syrup- flour mixture continuously. After this, add the ghee to the mixture slowly like you did with the gram flour. When the ghee is completely added, keep stirring it for another 10 to 15 minutes carefully. The whole ghee is absorbed and then the mixture comes out frothy and leaves the sides of the vessel and immediately add the soda bicarb and pour the mixture fast in to the greased plate. Wait for a couple of minutes to cool and start cutting the pieces to shapes of your choice.
Tips: Shelf life for this sweet is longer and it can be kept fresh for a couple of weeks easily
Carrot Halwa or Halva is a type of sweet preparation that is found across cultures from India to the Middle East and North Africa. It is often compared to the puddings of Europe. Different regions have their own unique ingredients and way of preparing it. In India, carrots are used commonly to make carrot halwa (gajer ka halwa). This dessert item is very easy to make.
Grate carrot finely. Take a thick bottomed vessel or non stick pan and boil milk on high flame. When it starts to boil, add the grated carrot. When the milk is reduced to just a half a cup, add the sugar, powdered cardamom and ghee into the vessel. Now you have to lower the flame and keep stirring continuously till you get a sticky ball consistency.
Payasam is usually the last item served in a traditional South Indian meal, as dessert. Many varieties of payasams are made using different ingredients like broken wheat, rice (basmati) sago, and pulses like green gram dhal etc. This recipe uses vermicelli (semiya) as the main ingredient. Vermicelli in India is made from semolina and isknown as seviyan in Hindi and as semiya in Tamil. Semiya payasam is also known as kheer in North India.
Cooking Time: 15 minutes Servings: 3
Milk: 500 ml Refined sugar: 100 grams or ½ cup Vermicelli (Semiya):1 cup or 40 grams Cashew nuts: 10 Raisins: 10 Cardamom: 2 Ghee (clarified butter) 1teaspoon Grated coconut: 2 tablespoon
Adding one teaspoon ghee (clarified butter) roast the cashew and raisin and set aside. If vermicelli is not roasted, you will have to roast it lightly in the remaining ghee.
Allow the milk to boil on high heat in a thick bottomed vessel. When it starts to boil, stir it for 5 minutes. Reducing the heat to medium add the roasted vermicelli and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cardamom powder, grated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes. Garnish with raisins and cashew nut and serve hot.