I don't make sweets often, but once in a while something like Cilantro's fruit kesari catches my fancy, and then it's like a craving - so here's my craving, which I made yesterday. It's just a coincidence that it's Deepavali and the kesari is appropriate as an offering. It's even more convenient that I could use up some over-soft soft fruit that I might have thrown away if not for the craving.
Now if only someone would make me thenkuzhal and thattai...
Ah well. Happy Deepavali to everybody, and may light and happiness be ever in your lives.
Recipe for: Fresh fruit rava kesari
1/2 cup rava/sooji/semolina
1-1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp saffron threads (a pinch) left to soak in 1/4 cup warm milk for 15 minutes
10-12 seedless red grapes, halved or quartered
1 small orange, peeled and segments chopped
1 small ripe banana, chopped
1 small ripe plum, stoned and chopped
1 tbsp raisins or sultanas (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
5 tsp ghee
2 tbsp nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
1. Heat 2 tsp ghee in a heavy-based medium size pan and fry the rava/sooji/semolina on medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes till the rava turns a slightly darker shade and smells roasted. Be careful that it doesn't burn. Remove to a bowl till required.
2. In the same pan, heat another tsp ghee and fry the nuts on medium heat, stirring till they are fragrant and turn a darker shade. Remove the nuts from the pan and reserve.
3. Heat the fourth tsp of ghee in the same pan, and add all the fruits, letting them cook on medium-low heat till they are soft and squishy, about 5 minutes.
4. Now add the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat a little and let it simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely.
5. Add the roasted rava/sooji/semolina now, stirring all the while to mix evenly. Let this cook until the kesari begins to thicken, then add the saffron milk and stir it in. Keep stirring frequently to ensure that it does not burn or become lumpy.
6. When the kesari is no longer watery and has "come together" in a soft mass, stir in the fried nuts along with the remaining tsp ghee. Serve the kesari warm in small bowls.
Tip: You can also spread the kesari on a greased plate and let it cool, then cut it into squares or diamonds for a more elegant (and convenient) presentation.