Kesari Recipe | Rava Kesari

Step by StepJump to Recipe

Kesari recipe is a popular and delicious South Indian sweet made from rava (cream of wheat), sugar, ghee (clarified butter), saffron and dry fruits. This melt in the mouth orange-colored sweet is also known as Rava Kesari. It is made during festivals as well as during poojas or auspicious occasions or any celebrations in South India. Make this decadent luxurious sweet treat with my simple kesari recipe that I share with step-by-step photos and video.

kesari with a cashew and raisin served in a dark green plate on a dark blue-black board

What is Rava Kesari

In Hindi ‘rava’ is known as ‘sooji’ and in English as semolina or cream of wheat. The word kesari means orange color and in some instances also means saffron – which is called as kesar. Basically this sweet is a semolina pudding which is flavored with saffron and has an orange color. 

The main ingredients in kesari recipe are ghee, rava, sugar, water and saffron or orange food color.

Rava kesari’s North Indian counterpart is Suji ka Halwa which is also equally popular and tastes good. In Maharashtra and Gujarat this same dish is called as sheera. However, there are some variations in the preparations of sooji halwa, sheera and rava kesari.

In Karnataka rava kesari is known as kesari bhath. For breakfast, both khara bath (uppittu or upma) and Kesari Bath are served together and this combination is called as chow chow bath.

The difference between rava kesari and suji halwa or sheera is the color. Also more amounts of ghee and sugar are used in a rava kesari as compared to sooji halwa or sheera. But the main difference is the color.

Why This Recipe Works

Rava kesari has an orange color. Generally synthetic orange food color is added while making kesari. Since I don’t use any synthetic colors in food, I have used saffron and a natural orange color extract to give orange color. But note that the addition of only saffron will give yellow tones and not orange.

Apart from that saffron gives a nice flavor and aroma to it. If you want orange tones, then add orange food color. I suggest using a natural orange color or natural yellow color extract.

Addition of ghee and sugar can always be minimized when making this dish at home. In this recipe, I have added slightly less quantities of both ghee and sugar.

I usually make rava kesari as naivedyam for the deities or during Indian festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Janmashtami, Ugadi and Diwali.

overhead shot of rava kesari in dark green plate on a dark black-blue board
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Kesari Recipe

For ease of understanding, I have divided this recipe into 4 main steps.

  • Step 1 – Frying dry fruits
  • Step 2 – Roasting rava
  • Step 3 – Making sugar syrup
  • Step 4 – Making kesari

Frying dry fruits

1. In a heavy kadai or a thick bottomed pan take 6 tablespoons ghee.

ghee in a kadai to make kesari recipe

2. Heat ghee on a medium-low flame till it melts completely.

melted ghee in the kadai

3. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons cashews.

cashews added to ghee

4. Begin to fry cashews stirring them often.

frying cashews

5. Fry cashews till golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside on kitchen paper towels or in a plate.

frying cashews in ghee till golden

6. Next add 1 tablespoon raisins in the hot ghee.

raisins added to ghee

7. Stirring non-stop fry the raisins.

Stirring non-stop fry the raisins

8. The raisins will become plump and swell.

raisins have become plump and swell

9. As soon as the raisins become plump, remove them and keep aside along with the fried cashews.

fried cashews and raisins in the plate for kesari recipe

Roasting Rava

10. Now reduce flame to a low and add 1 cup fine rava (160 grams) to the ghee.

roasting rava in the kadai to make kesari recipe

11. Combine and mix the rava with the ghee.

mix rava with ghee

12. Begin to roast rava on a low to medium-low flame. Stir often so that rava roasts evenly.

roasting rava in the kadai

13. Stir frequently while roasting rava for even cooking.

roasting rava in the kadai with stirring often

14. The color of the rava should not become brown. Roasting rava takes approx 9 to 11 minutes on a low to medium-low flame. Timing will vary with the type and make of the kadai or pan and the flame intensity.

roasting rava in the kadai

15. Roast till you can see the ghee getting separated and the color of rava will also change. A nice aroma will also emanate from the roasted rava.

roasting rava in the kadai

Making Sugar Syrup

16. When you begin to roast rava, at that time take ¾ cup sugar (190 to 200 grams) in a sauce pan. The sugar syrup needs to be cooked simultaneously while roasting rava.

sugar in a pan

17. Add 2 to 3 pinches of saffron strands.

saffron added to the sugar

18. Add 2.5 cups of water. Optionally you can also add a natural yellow or orange color extract. I added 2 drops of natural orange color extract.

water added to sugar

19. Keep the pan on stovetop and on a medium to medium-high flame begin to heat the sugar solution.

heating pan with sugar solution

20. When you keep the pan on the stove-top for heating, at that time stir with a spoon so that all the sugar is dissolved.

heating sugar solution

21. Bring this sugar solution to a rolling boil. In case the sugar solution has come to a boil, but rava has not yet roasted, then reduce the flame to a low and simmer the sugar solution for a couple of minutes – so that it stays hot.

However do not simmer for a long time as then the sugar consistency will change and the syrup can become sticky or have the sugar thread consistencies.

bringing sugar solution to boil for kesari recipe

Making Rava Kesari

22. By the time the sugar solution starts boiling, the rava will also get roasted well.

rava has roasted in the kadai

23. Lower the flame and now carefully pour the sugar-saffron solution in the hot ghee-rava mixture in a steady stream and slowly.

adding sugar solution to roasted rava

24. Take care while pouring as the mixture splutters. In this kesari recipe, lumps are not formed as the quantity of water is more. In case if lumps do form then just break them with the spatula or spoon.

mix the rava kesari mixture

25. Stir and mix very well. Break lumps, if any while mixing.

mix and break the lumps

26. Cook the mixture on a low to medium-low flame stirring often.

cook the mixture stirring often

27. The rava will absorb the water and swell and the mixture will begin to thicken. It will be soft and moist and the consistency will be like that of smooth pudding.

rava mixture absorbing water

28. When the mixture starts thickening, add the fried cashews and raisins reserving a few for the garnish.

add fried cashews and raisins to mixture

29. Also add ½ teaspoon cardamom powder. At this step you can also add a pinch of edible camphor if you want.

adding cardamom powder to rava kesari mixture

30. Mix very well.

mix rava kesari mixture

31. Stir till the mixture releases some ghee and the rava has absorbed all the water and cooked well. Also you should not see any whitish or creamish tiny specks on the rava. If you see then this means that the rava is still not cooked well.

cooking rava kesari in the pan

Steaming Kesari

32. Then switch off the flame and cover the pan for 5 minutes just to allow the kesari to steam.

cooking rava kesari in the pan with a closed lid

33. After five minutes, remove the lid and give a stir. If you want to make slices, then immediately pour the rava kesari in a steel pan or tray. Spread evenly and when warm or cooled, cut into diamond-shaped or square slices.

stir the rava kesari

Serving Suggestions and Leftovers

Serve rava kesari hot or warm. Garnish with a few of the reserved fried cashews and raisins while serving. You can also serve it as a sweet dish.

You can eat it as-is without any sides. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Reheat in a skillet by gently sautéing it or steam for a few minutes in a pan.

rava kesari served in three green plates with brass spoons by the side

Rava Kesari Varieties

Using the basic recipe of kesari many variations are possible. Add milk and you get milk kesari. Include mixed fruits or just one type of fruit and you get a nice fruity flavored kesari.

Some delicious variations of kesari I have earlier shared are:

  1. Fruit Kesari – This kesari variant has mixed fruits in it and usually served in South Indians weddings. The dish has a lovely fruity flavor and can be made with a choice of seasonal fruits.
  2. Pineapple Kesari – Another delicious variation made with chopped fresh pineapples. The pineapples give a nice sweet tangy bites in the dish.
  3. Mango Kesari – During mango season you can try a version made with sweet or ripe mangoes, bursting with the delish flavors of mangoes.
  4. Milk Kesari – This is a richer version of the regular kesari recipe made with whole milk. Here the water is replaced with milk.
  5. Semiya Kesari – This variant of kesari is unique as it is made with semiya or vermicelli. Obviously the texture and taste of semiya kesari is very different due to the addition of vermicelli.

Expert Tips for Best Kesari

  • Roasting Rava: Remember to roast the rava very well. This step is important because if rava is not roasted well then you will not get perfect texture in the kesari. There will also be a slight raw taste in the dish. Stir frequently while roasting rava for even cooking. The rava should release ghee once it is roasted well and will have a nice toasted fragrance.
  • Type of rava: Use fine rava like Bombay rava or chiroti rava for a melt in the mouth texture. If you live outside India, look for cream of wheat or fine semolina. You can also buy the rava or sooji online. You can also opt to use packaged roasted rava. But make sure that the rava is roasted well. Sometimes the readymade roasted rava is not completely roasted.
  • Adding liquids: When adding the sugar solution to the hot rava+ghee mixture, make sure that the sugar solution is bubbling hot. So you have to cook them simultaneously. Add the sugar solution slowly and carefully as the rava mixture splutters.
  • Liquids: You can also use milk instead of water. This makes the kesari more rich. Use same amount of milk as the quantity of water mentioned in the recipe. You can also add equal proportion of water and milk.
  • Proportions: To get a soft, melt in the mouth rava kesari, the proportion of rice and water to be used is 1:2.5 for both rava and water respectively. You can even add 3 cups water, which gives a slightly moist rava kesari.
  • Nuts: The amount of nuts and dry fruits can be varied and can be of your choice. But traditionally cashews and raisins are added.

If you made this recipe, please be sure to rate it in the recipe card below. Sign Up for my email newsletter or you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest or Twitter for more vegetarian inspirations.

closeup shot of kesari served in dark green plate

Kesari Recipe

Rava kesari is a delicious melt in the mouth sweet made with rava or suji (semolina), ghee, dry fruits and saffron. It is a popular South Indian sweet and can be easily made in less time. 
4.87 from 43 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Cuisine South Indian, Tamil Nadu
Course Desserts, Sweets
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 6 servings
Units

Ingredients

For frying dry fruits and rava

  • 6 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cashews
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 cup fine rava, 160 grams, (sooji or semolina or cream of wheat)

For sugar solution

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar or as add required, 190 to 200 grams sugar
  • 2.5 cups water or milk
  • 2 to 3 pinches saffron strands
  • 2 to 3 drops natural orange color extract – optional

Other ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 pinch edible camphor – optional

Instructions
 

Frying dry fruits

  • In a heavy kadai or a thick bottomed pan take 6 tablespoons ghee. heat ghee on a medium-low flame till it melts completely. 
  • Add 3 tablespoons cashews.
  • Begin to fry cashews stirring them often till they become golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep fried cashews aside.
  • Next add 1 tablespoon raisins in the hot ghee.
  • Stirring non-stop fry the raisins till they become plump and swell.
  • Remove them and keep aside with the fried cashews. 

Roasting rava

  • Now reduce flame to a low and add 1 cup fine rava (160 grams) to the ghee. mix well.
  • Begin to roast rava on a low to medium-low flame. 
  • Stir frequently while roasting rava for even cooking.
  • Roast till you can see the ghee getting separated and the color of rava will also change. A nice aroma will also emanate from the roasted rava.
  • The color of the rava should not become brown. 

Making sugar syrup

  • When you begin to roast rava, at that time take ¾ cup sugar (190 to 200 grams) in a sauce pan.
  • Add 2 to 3 pinches of saffron strands. you can also add a natural yellow or orange color extract. I added 2 drops of natural orange color extract.
  • Add 2.5 cups water. 
  • Keep the pan on stove top and on a medium to medium-high flame begin to heat the sugar solution.
  • When you keep the pan on the stove-top for heating, at that time stir with a spoon so that all the sugar is dissolved.
  • Bring this sugar solution to a rolling boil.

Making rava kesari

  • By the time the sugar solution starts boiling, the rava will also get roasted well.
  • Lower the flame and now carefully pour the sugar-saffron solution in the ghee-rava mixture in a steady stream and slowly.
  • Take care while pouring as the mixture splutters. 
  • Stir and mix very well. Break lumps, if any while mixing.
  • Cook rava kesari mixture on a low to medium-low flame stirring often.
  • The rava or sooji will absorb the water and swell and the mixture will begin to thicken.
  • When the mixture starts thickening, add the fried cashews and raisins reserving a few for garnish.
  • Also add ½ teaspoon cardamom powder. At this step you can also add a pinch of edible camphor if you want. mix very well.
  • Stir till the mixture releases some ghee and the rava has absorbed all the water and cooked well. 
  • Then switch off the flame and cover the pan for 5 minutes just to allow the rava kesari to steam.
  • After five minutes, remove the lid. Stir rava kesari. If you want to make slices, then immediately pour it in a steel pan or tray. Spread evenly and when warm or cooled, cut into diamond shaped or square slices.
  • Serve rava kesari hot or warm. You can also serve it as a side sweet dish.

Video

Notes

  • You can add a few tablespoons of more ghee or sugar if you want in the rava kesari.
  • Remember to roast the rava very well to get the best texture in the dish.
  • You can make a small batch of this recipe or scale it to feed a crowd.
  • Instead of water you can use milk or equal proportions of water and milk.
  • For a vegan kesari recipe, use a neutral tasting oil in place of ghee.
  • You can vary the amount of nuts. Traditionally only cashews and raisins are added. But feel free to add nuts that you like.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Kesari Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 349 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 33mg11%
Sodium 42mg2%
Potassium 105mg3%
Carbohydrates 50g17%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 26g29%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 400IU8%
Vitamin C 0.4mg0%
Calcium 210mg21%
Iron 10.1mg56%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Like what you see?

Stay up to date with new recipes and ideas.

This Kesari recipe post from the archives (first published in September 2013) has been republished and updated on 15 June 2021.

Share This Recipe:

PinWhatsAppPrintShares2k

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

Get My Secrets to Great Indian Food
Sign up for my FREE Beginners Guide to Delicious Indian Cooking

Comments are closed.

96 Comments

  1. Can you roast the rava in ghee and prepare the seera for next day.
    I am having puja so to avoid the long hours roasting can I roast it the previous day and keep it at room temperature and than make the seera next day morning.
    Can you kindly reply me back

    1. yes, you can do that. but when adding hot water to the rava, heat the rava again on a low flame so that it becomes hot when adding the hot water. hope this helps.

  2. Wow super article , I tried and My Kesaribath became sticky:( how should we correct it in that case 🙁

    1. looks like the rava was not roasted well. if the rava is not roasted well, the kesari can become sticky. while cooking some more water can be added and cooked for some more time. but nothing can be done after the kesari has been made.

  3. I love your cooking! As a vegan i do not use milk. What can I use instead (esp. in deserts)? Great pictures! Really help!5 stars

    1. thanks. when making vegan sweets at home, i use a neutral flavored oil or coconut oil instead of ghee. i use almond milk quite often as it gives an almost neutral taste and does not overpower the sweet. another alternative is cashew milk, though mostly i end up using almond milk. for a pudding or kheer, i use coconut milk and coconut oil. coconut milk gives a creamy thick texture and a flavor/taste that goes very well in kheer recipes.

  4. Thank you for the recipe Dassana. Didn’t have saffron at home…I added raisins towards the end.
    The dish turned out very soft and tasty…thanks for the detailed instructions.5 stars

    1. welcome estee. saffron can be skipped. raisins can also be added towards the end. thanks for the feedback and nice to know.

See More Comments