Pineapple kesari is the recipe I am sharing with you today.
What is pineapple kesari?
Pineapple kesari is a version of rava kesari. Other versions include banana (called prasadacha sheera or kelyacha sheera in the North), mango, or coconut. Kesari can also be made with vermicelli instead of semolina, it is then called semiya kesari. It is also sometimes prepared with aval or poha (flattened rice) and is then called aval kesari.
Some people use milk instead of water in the standard rava kesari recipe to make a richer dessert. It is then called milk kesari with the same ingredients but with added raisins.
Rava kesari comes from the words rava (semolina) and kesari (from kesar which means saffron). Rava kesari is a typical South Indian dessert, especially popular in the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
It is known as sheera in Marathi/Hindi, rava kesari in Telugu, sooji halwa or suji halwa in the North, sooji kesari and rava kesari in Tamil or called kesari bhat in Kannada.
The main difference between rava kesari and sooji halwa is the coloring. Saffron is traditionally used to color rava kesari but nowadays, more and more restaurants use food coloring instead.
Rava kesari got famous in Tamil Nadu during the period of the Maratha Empire around the 18th century, and spread throughout India thereafter. However, the origin of this dessert seems to be more ancient, as rava kesari seems to be an adaptation of an Ottoman treat called irmik helvasi or semolina (irmik) halva.
In fact, kesari is a type of halva. Halva is a generic term for sweets throughout the Middle East, southeast Europe as well as India and its neighbors. Actually, halva can be nut-butter based, as in the halva that Vera made when we stopped in Israel, or it can be flour-based, like in rava kesari (semolina) or halwa bahrani (cornstarch). But it can also be based on other ingredients, such as carrots as in gajar halwa, which is the Indian delicacy that Vera will share with us later this week.
Rava kesari is usually eaten for breakfast but can also be eaten as a dessert. It is very often served during pre-wedding and wedding ceremonies. It is also served as naivedyam or prasadam (offering to God) during the festival of Navratri as well as other festivals. Navratri is the Hindu festival of nine nights dedicated to the glorification of Shakti, the feminine form of the Divine.
What semolina to use for kesari
The semolina used for rava kesari as well as most preparations where semolina is the main ingredient is the coarser type. The finer semolina is typically used for batter.
In South India, semolina is used to make savory foods, like rava dosa (a variant of dosa) and upma (thick porridge with seasonings and vegetables), in addition to rava kesari.
Coarser semolina is also the one that is used to make couscous dishes, such as couscous au beurre, but also other North African specialties like kesra bread, and also the North African dessert favorite called aricha (or harissa), very similar to more common basbosa or nammora.
I served the pineapple kesari with a mango lassi after a rather copious dinner, so I chose to serve a smaller portion using a round cookie cutter (or emporte-pièce as we would say in French), a rather unusual way to serve pineapple kesari but it totally worked by garnishing it with the nuts on top. You can also serve it in bowls or verrines, as long as it is warm or hot.
I highly recommend this recipe, a very quick and easy dessert to prepare.
- 1 cup semolina (sooji/rava)
- 1 pineapple , peeled and chopped
- 1 cup clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 cup sugar
- A pinch saffron , dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 5 cashew nuts
- 5 almonds
- 5 pistachios
- Heat ghee in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Add semolina, mix well and sauté on a slow flame for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring continuously till it turns golden brown.
- Add saffron and cardamom powder then mix.
- Add pineapple and further cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of water and mix.
- Cover and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add sugar and mix.
- Stir till all the moisture evaporates and semolina is cooked completely.
- Serve hot or warm, garnished with cashew nuts, almonds and/or pistachios.