27 July, 2011

Kesari Bhath/Suji Halwa: A fool-proof recipe

Kesari Bhath/Suji Halwa

I am not too fond of sweets! Period.
~sigh~ Wish I could just stop it there and pen down today’s recipe. Being a chatty person that I am, I have this urge to write a long post before giving the recipe! So bear with me for few more minutes and few more lines of my ramblings… or else simply skip to the recipe part and I won’t mind at all!

But today I have something different from my usual posts that sizzle with spices; I felt the need to give a brief explanation to all my lovely readers. It is true that I had no serious liking for sweets, including chocolates all these years. Whenever someone indulged with a boxful of chocolates or bowlful of pudding, I was found munching some spicy snacks or dipping my finger in a bottle of fiery hot pickles. It was only when I was pregnant with lil dumpling, I kind of shifted more towards the sweets and started craving for them at ungodly hours. And to greatest surprise of all who know me too well for my own good, I felt the bile coming up my throat whenever someone asked me if I had craving for sour mangoes, raw tamarind or spicy pickles, the kind of food I worshipped and literally lived for!!! I had no fancy cravings throughout my pregnancy except for sweets. Every savoury and spicy food was out of question as my stomach refused to befriend them and simply would throw up every single time I dared to have a spoonful of them. I literally survived eating Ganji/Kanji (Rosematta rice porridge) with stir fried vegetables and sweets for 3 meals a day!

So I was not at all surprised to see my lil sweet pea showing great love for sweets or anything that tastes sweet. First time when I gave him mashed banana when he turned 4 months old, he literally ate my finger tip in a great hurry to taste it. Slowly when he was introduced to cooked and mashed fruits and veggies, he showed more interest in naturally sweet tasting fruits and veggies. I kept him away from sugar loaded stuff, except for a spoon or two spoonful of payasam/kheer made on special occasions. It was only last month when he turned one year old, I decided to treat him with something special. Instead of opting for cakes, I chose to make some Indian sweet at home; something sweet, something nice and something special that he could enjoy without much fuss. And Kesari Bhath fitted that bill completely.

Kesari Bhath/Suji Halwa

Kesari Bhath, or Suji/Sooji Halwa as called in north Indian states, is a quick, easy and delightful pudding of semolina or cream of wheat that has been lightly roasted in little ghee and then cooked with sugar and some more ghee. In Karnataka, Spicy Avalakki/Poha, Upma/Uppittu and Kesari Bhath is one of the most loved and favoured breakfasts that is served on special occasions. Since it was a very special occasion for us, I poured the hot semolina in cake tin so that our lil dumpling could cut it as a cake! Yes, this Kesari Bhath was my lil one first birthday cake :) Before you ask me, yes; he enjoyed his first birthday cake a lot!

The following fool-proof recipe for Kesari Bhath is from my Amma. Some recipes use milk and some use combination of milk and water, but this one uses only water. Some recipes ask you to boil the milk and/or water before adding roasted semolina, where as here you add boiling water to roasted semolina which helps in cooking them fast. I have made it two more times since sweet pea’s birthday and every time it’s come out as a winner. If you are craving for something sweet, or if you have some unexpected guests at home and want to cook something in jiffy, then this recipe is for you. Grab your spoon and dig into this super simple, super fast and super tasty Kesari Bhath/Suji Halwa and just for a once forget about the calories!!!

Kesari Bhath

Kesari Bhath/Suji Halwa (South Indian sweet pudding of semolina lightly roasted in ghee)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 10-12 people
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: n/a
Shelf Life: 1 week when refrigerated
Recipe Source: My Amma
Serving Suggestion: Usually served as a dessert

1 cup coarse Semolina/Rava
1¼ cups Sugar (adjust acc to taste)
¾ cup Ghee
Small handful of Cashew nuts and Raisins
A pinch of Saffron (soaked in 2 tbsp of warm milk)
4 Green Cardamom, peeled and seeds crushed to fine powder
2½ cups of Boiling Water

Kesari Bhath/Suji Halwa

Grease a plate or cake tin with ghee and set it aside.
Heat about 2 tbsp of Ghee in a heavy bottomed wok/kadai and add cashew nuts. Roast them on low flame for a minute till they turn light gold in colour. Add raisins and roast them till they start to plump up. Remove the roasted cashews and raisins and set them aside.
Add semolina to the same heated ghee and roast them on low flame till they start to change colour and turn light golden, about 2-3 minutes.
Once the semolina is roasted, mix in about 2½ cups of boiling water and cover the lid. Let it cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes on low-medium flame. Open the lid and mix the semolina so as no lumps are formed. Now add the sugar and mix them well. Let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Slowly start adding ghee one spoon at a time and keep stirring the mixture. Once you have used up all the ghee, keep stirring the mixture till each grain is cooked well and the ghee starts to separate to the side of the vessel.
Add roasted cashews and raisins, cardamom powder and saffron soaked in warm milk and mix them all well.
Immediately transfer the Kesari Bhath to greased plate or cake tin and spread it well with back of a ladle. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and cut them into desired shapes. Serve them hot, warm, chilled or at room temperature and enjoy this delicious Kesari Bhath.


  1. Kesari bath looks delicious. Your method is different from what I use but seems very simple. Will try ur version next time.

  2. Lovely presentation Sia!!And the soft texture and lovely golden color makes me drooool...yum yum yum!:)


  3. Loved the pictures!
    Now that your little pea loves sweets, i guess we'll get to see more sweets here...

  4. i so so so love all ur posts for one thing/.... i cud have never thot of making d simplest sooji halwa so tempting like dis one... :) u rock!!

  5. It is so tough to resist the lure of sweets, sigh. The halwa looks golden and delicious, perfect for sweet-toothed babies, and adults too

  6. Happy first bday to baby Paarth. His cake sure looks yummy

  7. you made it look so classy! I love warm kesari bhat buy never made at home. I really should try this :)

  8. perfect bhath!!nice presentation!

  9. Its such a simple dessert with almost all ingredients always at hand...but what made it special is the way you have presented it...somebody who hates it will also feel like trying it one more time after watching those photographs!!

    thanks for the recipe!

  10. Kesari bath looks too good with cashew topping.

  11. Absolutely love the pics and recipe. almost same as how I make, yes forget the calories, when you eat it, true.

    I wish I was like you and did not like sweets as much :)

  12. Very nice recipe and wonderful post. Your story is same as mine, I always preferred salty snacks and when I was pregnant started to crave sweets. And yes my son too has big sweet tooth :)
    Have fun with the little one.

  13. Hey Sia.......that looks absolutely lovely......sooo hungry for kesari bath.......hmmmmm.....might be tempted to make it tommorow :)

  14. Cay, do let me when u try it :) U can add cup of pureed pinapple or mango for fruity twist :)

  15. Sia...guess what....i made it today and it was soooo tasty....thankyou for the lovely recipe...ummmma......the only change i made was i didnt have semolina so used couscous instead....and was lazy to grind cardomom and soak kesari so i used 1.5 tsp of rose water instead..and used 3 tsps of ghee only as i ran out.....it turned out yummmm....i might just hide it...and not share it with C....u know what i mean :)

  16. Cay, that's totally different from my recipe :) U should post the recipe in ur blog. I did think if couscous will work in place of semolina but never ventured to make it that way. thanks to u, now i can try it closing my eyes :)

  17. Looks so lovely...like the idea of setting in loaf tin for beautiful slices!


Namaste! I am Sia and welcome to Monsoon Spice, my virtual home. Thank you for all your comments, inputs and feedback. I really appreciate the valuable time you spent browsing through my recipe repertoire.

I hope you have found what you are looking for today. Feel free to leave any questions or queries you have on the recipes posted here. If you have any recipe requests, please drop a line at Ask Sia page. I will try to respond to all your queries as soon as possible to best of my knowledge.

I welcome all your valuable inputs and constructive criticism as long as it is meant to help and improve the blog. I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude, abusive, written with the intent to advertise, contain profanity or considered spam.

I hope that you will stop by again to read my rants, learn new recipes and share your ideas. Have a good look around and enjoy your time here. Thank you once again!