Rava Kesari, Kesari Bath, and Sooji Halwa are all sisters of the same mother - Sweet Semolina Pudding. Rava Kesari is a South-Indian version where Rava means Semolina and Kesar is the name of the Saffron flower. Traditionally it is made with equal portions of Semolina, Sugar and Ghee and flavoured with cardamom and saffron colour. Yes, saffron was not accessible like today, so in those days people used to use artificial saffron colour. What will surprise you is there are quite a few different methods to prepare it which is what confuses a beginner. InshaAllah, I will try to share my version soon. Not today!
Today, I am sharing the baked version of Rava Kesari. I have made Namoura or Basbousa and a very popular Mango Basbousa several times but it never occurred to me that our very own Rava Kesari can also take that form! So this is my first attempt and it can't go wrong so I am not trying again anytime soon because I am trying to cut down on sugar and get back to a healthy weight.
How to bake Rava Kesari?
- Make the syrup
- Prepare the batter
- Pour cold syrup over hot cake
Baked Rava Kesari | Semolina Saffron Bake
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup of water
- Splash of lime juice
- a pinch of saffron strands
- 1 green cardamom
For the Rava Kesari batter:
- ¾ cup fine semolina (Rava)
- 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut (optional but recommended)
- ¼ cup melted ghee
Mix and warm up these:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup prepared syrup
- Prepare the syrup: Boil the sugar and water until all of the sugar is dissolved. Do not stir. Add the rest of the ingredients and boil for 5 to 8 minutes. Switch off and keep aside.
- Make the batter: Take time and mix semolina and ghee using finger-tips or a rubber spatula until every bit of Rava is coated with ghee. Stir in the desiccated coconut, if using. Warm the rest of the ingredients and fold them into the semolina ghee bowl. The batter will be thick.
- Bake the Rava Kesari: Preheat the oven to 190c with a rack in the middle. Grease a shallow cake pan with ghee. Dump the prepared dough-like batter and level it evenly. Use a butter knife and make lines to cut portions and sprinkle some slivered pistachios or place cashews. Bake for 25 mins or until the top is browned and sides leave. Remove from the oven and pour the remaining cooled saffron-flavoured sugar syrup all over. Serve warm or at room temperature. The texture is crispy on top and soft inside and overall sweet and delicious.
When I made this, I used milk which I usually don't use in my version of Rava Kesari but some recipes do use milk. So you can either use milk or replace it with water. None of my recipes uses artificial colour so here I have used saffron because there is no other way to get the flavour. But if you want only the colour, then use a pinch of turmeric instead and add more cardamom or rose water for flavour.