Today my niece turns ONE according to the lunar calendar. For those familiar with Nakshatra and Rasi that Indian calendars follow, today is the same nakshatra as the day she was born in. Keeping with tradition we had her Ayusha-homam today. This is done to bless the child will a long life.
Being her aunt, me and K went over bright and early and I made kesari. This simple dish is my favorite and can be made in many different ways. The basic recipe is the same and it can be given a twist with the addition of milk and saffron like I did today or cut pineapple chunks like some others I know do.
Stuff you will need:
Rava (cream of wheat) – 2 cups
Sugar – 2 cups
Ghee – 3/4 cup
Water – 2 cups
Cardomom – 10 – 15 peeled and pounded
Cashews – 15 broken into bits
Raisins (golden or black) – 20
Saffron – a pinch
Milk – 1/4 cup
In a wide mouthed pan heat 3 tsp ghee and fry the cashews till golden brown. Set aside. Next fry the raisins till they swell and look huge. Set aside. Add three fourths of remaining ghee and set heat on medium. As the ghee melts, add the rava and fry it. It should look fried with reddish dots. Now add water slowly stirring all the while till all the water is done. The kesari will now become soft and look cooked. Now add the sugar and stir slowly till the mix bubbles and becomes sticky. Continue stirring till the kesari leaves the sides of the pan and when divided splits into two parts without sticking. At this point, stir in the remaining ghee, add the fried cashews, raisins and mix. Turn heat off and mix the pounded cardomom in.
Serves 8 – 10 people depending on serving size.
You can omit the milk and saffron. Feel free to experiment with the quantity of sugar and ghee. The resulting product might be more like upma but can be had as a snack. Add diced fruits when making the kesari to give natural sweetness and cut down on sugar. Pineapples are a great idea. Try this with alternatives to rava/sooji like cracked wheat, semolina or flattened rice (poha).