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Rava Kesari (Sooji Halwa)

- Submitted by Dahlia on 4th Dec 2007

(Sooji Ka Halwa, Rava Halwa, Semolina Pudding, Fruit & Nut Kesari, Sheera, Rava Kesari Baath)

Rava Kesari

Rava kesari or kesari bath is one of the most commonly cherished desserts in south India. “Kesari” means orange color, and hence this sweet dish made from rava, which has rich orange golden color in its appearance gets its name. Rava kesari is very prominent sweet dish in the states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhrapradesh. It’s impossible to miss a rava kesari in “mini tiffin” from Saravana bhavan or A2B. Similarly, you walk to any darshini or sagar eateries in Karnataka; it is a common sight to see the vibrant orange kesari bath in the palate. Rava kesari is closely similar to the sooji ka halwa of the north, except for the addition of saffron or kesari color in the dish. The rava kesari is also a very common Prasad or offering to the god in festivals like Navratri, Krishna Janmashtami, Bogi (The day prior to Sankranti) and many more.

I have been tasting rava kesari from the earliest days of my childhood and my mother is adept in making the same. I had always thought that it’s the easiest sweet dishes to make (well!! It is an easy dish) and I decided to try the same. But as they say behind every sweet dish there are some sweet and interesting stories too which makes life memorable. My cousin was coming home for lunch; I was just married for 3 months and planned an authentic south Indian lunch menu with Rava kesari as the sweet dish. To my knowledge, I had done everything properly, but I stirred only a few times and left it to cook on its own. No points to guess, the result was a “LUMP” rava kesari. My cousin, being a perfect gentleman forced it on himself with only one request that I never make a kesari for him again. Later, as years passed by, I learnt to make the perfect kesari ever. This is my story of learning to make rava kesari. Do try this simple recipe mentioned below and you can share your story too.

Recipe for Rava Kesari

Preparation Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Serves: 8

Scroll down to see Sugar Free Rava Kesari


  • Semolina (Rava / Sooji / Farina) - 1 cup
  • Ghee/ Butter - 1/2 cup
  • Ghee - 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp (for roasting the rava and toasting the nuts)
  • Sugar - 1 cup (add 1/2 cup more if you like it sweeter) - For sugar free option, add any sugar free sweetner. 
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Cashews/Almonds - 10 nos (sliced/chopped)
  • Raisins - 10 nos
  • Kesari colour - One pinch (You can also use red/yellow/orange food color)
  • Water - 4 cups
  • Cardamom - 3 pods(crushed)


  1. Heat some ghee in a heavy bottomed pan, toast the nuts and raisins. Remove it and keep it aside.
  2. Add some more ghee and roast the rava until it turns golden brown. Remove it and keep it aside.
  3. In the same pan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, sugar and kesari color.
  4. Slowly add the rava while constantly stirring it. Reduce the heat and let it cook covered for 5 minutes. The rava will absorb all the liquid and become soft.
  5. Add the remaining ghee, crushed cardamom pods and the toasted nuts. Mix everything together and cook for couple of minutes.
  6. You will see the halwa (kesari) moving like a big mass. Switch off when it is still a little loose. The kesari will thicken as it sits. Serve warm!!

Detailed Steps to make Rava Kesari

Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a pan. Fry the nuts and raisins and keep it aside. I have used cashew nuts, you can also use chopped almonds. Remove it using a slotted spoon and keep it aside.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Heat up the same pan again with another 2 tbsp of additional ghee. Roast the rava till it gives a nice aroma and turns lightly brown. Remove it in another plate.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Note : - After the above step, you can add hot boiling water to the roasted rava and proceed. For this you have to boil the water separately. This method is followed by many but these is a chance of lumps being formed. Beginners may not be comfortable with this method. So here is how  do it.

After removing the roasted rava, I take the water in the same pan and boil it.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Add the sugar, salt and kesari powder and mix.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Add the roasted rava little by little while constantly stirring to avoid lumps being formed.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. The rava will immediately absorb all the water and become soft. The rava should be well cooked for best results. 

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Pour the rest of the ghee (1/2 cup) and half of the toasted nuts and raisins. I reserve the remaining for garnishing. Also add the crushed cardamoms. I have crushed it along with some sugar to make a fine powder. 

Note :- For people who are on diet, add little less ghee. You can also add half oil and half ghee.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Mix everything and cook for couple of minutes. The kesari forms a big mass and does not stick to the pan. This is the indication that kesari is ready. 

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Switch off. It is important to switch off at the right stage, else it will become hard and chewy. Garnish with the rest of the toasted nuts and raisins. Enjoy it warm.

Rava Kesari Preparation Steps

Traditionally the kesari was poured into a flat plate greased with ghee. In about 15 minutes, the kesari will thicken up and you can cut it into desired shapes. Our ancestors have mostly cut it into diamond shape and served. The days people love to scoop it and serve.

If you serve the kesari later or the next day, take required quantity and heat it up in the microwave. You can also heat it in the pan on stove top. This dessert tastes best when served warm.

Rava Kesari

Serving Suggestion

  • This is the simplest dessert that can be made. It can be served as such or with some ice cream. 
  • Sooji ka Halwa is also served as a side-dish with poori in Maharashtra. This is famous as 'Halwa Poori'.
  • This can also be used as a stuffing to make puran polis.

Rava Kesari


  • Add 1 cup of crushed pineapple or mango puree just before adding the rava to make yummy pineapple kesari or mango kesari. Other tasty options are strawberry kesari,  banana kesari and green apple kesari. I usually add appropriate color to differentiate between flavors e.g:- for banana kesari, I do not add any food color to keep it white, for strawberry kesari, I add pink food color, for green apple kesari, I add green food color and for pineapple kesari, I add yellow food color.
  • You can also add 1 cup of mixed fruits and nuts like apples, grapes, mangos, banana, strawberries, pineapples, dates, peach, almonds, apricots etc along with the rava. This is called mixed fruit kesari.
  • Instead of 4 cups of water, you could also add 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of water. This will keep the kesari soft for longer period of time.
  • I love to make different color kesari for different occasions like red kesari for valentines day, green kesari for st. patrick's day or christmas etc.
  • Rava Kesari tastes good when made with any sugar free sweetener. I have made it often for my diabetic family members and they enjoy it. It doesn't have the shine like the one made with sugar but tastes very goog. Check out the picture of sugar free kesari below.

Rava Kesari With Sugar Free Sweetener

Rava Kesari With Sweetener

More Halwa Recipes

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Comments (2)

Person Kavitha   (September 8, 2013)
Kesari turned out superb! I omitted the raisins and cashews as my kids prefer it plain. My son likes it when given as prasadam at temples. I tried this recipe for his 7th birthday yesterday and he enjoyed it immensely while it was warm. I digged in too and felt more like comfort food than just a dessert.
Person Dahlia (S.I.R. Author)   (September 8, 2013)
Thats great.. Its great to enjoy good food with family!!

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