Imagine you are in a small eatery, lots of people standing around you at different tables eating their breakfast and gulping down filter coffee. The place is buzzing and you can smell various delicacies mixed in with the delicate fragrance of jasmine and incense. You are standing there struggling to decide what to order because you basically want to try everything! I was just describing a scene at a darshini ( a small eatery found in pretty much every neighborhood in my home town of Bangalore) and pretty much what comes to mind every time I think of kesaribath.
Kesaribath is a sweet semolina based pudding and is an unique sight amongst her savory cousins. Southern Indian cuisine is partial to savory food to start off the day but fret not Kesaribath is here and specifically this mind-blowing mango kesaribath! This is a small twist on the regular version. However, it is not uncommon to find banana or pineapple versions. I wanted to make this mango because mango season is kicking off and it happens to be my favorite fruit.
As tempting as it looks and tastes, this mango kesaribath is best had the day after it is made. The flavors develop better and really come through the next day. Also this might be an unpopular opinion- I like eating kesaribath at room temperature or cold. You can really taste the flavors better I promise!
Ingredients for Mango Kesaribath
The regular version calls for just semolina, ghee, sugar, cardamom, cashews, raisins and water. Thats right, it just needs 7 ingredients and 15-20 minutes to whip up a delicious breakfast or dessert. For a version involving a fruit, it is added towards the end and cooked for a couple of minutes before it is ready to serve.
For this this particular version, I decided to use mango puree. I had a couple of tins of pureed mango sitting around but also thought this would be a better way to incorporate the fruit since it is easier in a pureed form. So even if you are using fresh mangoes, I would suggest putting it in the blender.
- Semolina – I used a version called Bombay rava/rawa which is a finer form of semolina. I pick up rava from the local Indian store. If you want the final dish to look more grainy I would suggest ‘Bansi’ rava. Of course you can source semolina from other places as well.
- Ghee – Please don’t skip ghee or unsalted vegan butter. However you look at fats, they are what gives that unique flavor to food. For Indian food especially, ghee is de rigueur. If you are vegan or dairy free, feel free to use vegan butter or even a neutral oil. Remember its not the poison but the dose that matters!
- Mango puree – The brand I used had sugar added to the puree. Hence I reduced the sugar accordingly. I used a cup of it and it really went a long in flavoring the kesaribath. If you are using fresh mango or pulp, I would highly encourage you out in the blender and giving it a good whirl in there.
- Sugar– I used regular organic cane sugar and only a cup of it. Feel free to adjust according to your sweet tooth levels. I have never tried it but I think erythritol, stevia or monk fruit would work as well.
- Cashews, raisins and cardamom– This trifecta of ingredients is pretty mandatory as well in Indian desserts. Cardamom adds an amazing flavor and cashews, raisins add that extra texture to a dessert that lacks texture otherwise.
- Saffron – This is completely optional. I added this for more aesthetic reason. But you can never go wrong with adding it because of fantastic fragrance and taste it adds.
The secret to a good mango kesaribath is working quickly and using good quality sweet mangoes or puree. I had mentioned earlier that this dish comes together in 15-20 minutes.The longest part of the making this dish involves dry roasting the semolina.So make sure you have all of the ingredients prepped and get ready to stir.
Soak the saffron strands if using in 3-4 tbsp of water or milk and keep aside. Initially we will roast the cashews and raisins in ghee until they are golden brown and the raisins start looking a little ‘puffy’. Keep it aside and start roasting the semolina in the same pan with the leftover ghee. After 5 minutes or so you will smell the aroma fo the roasted semolina in the room. While roasting make sure that you constantly keep sautéing since we don’t want it to get too browned or burn.
Keep the roasted semolina aside. Put the same pan back on the stove and bring the water to boil. Once you see it boiling, slowly start pouring the semolina in to the water while stirring constantly. This is very important to ensure there are no lumps and to ensure all of the semolina is mixed in to the water thus ensuring it is being cooked. You will soon notice almost a thick paste being formed. Check to make there are no uncooked semolina lumps in this mix.
Now its time to mix in the sugar. As the sugar heats up, it will melt and will be easier to mix in. Then we follow up with the ghee/vegan butter. Pour in the ghee and keep stirring to mix it in for 2-3 minutes. Add the soaked saffron mixture and follow the same steps as before. Now its time to add the mango puree. Pour in and mix well. Finally we add the roasted cashews and raisins and you guessed it right..mix!
At one point, you will see the entire mixture separating from the pan as the ghee melts and forms a layer around kesaribath. This is a sign to turn off the heat and keep aside. You can of course eat it right away when its hot (make sure its not too hot!) but I would really suggest waiting a day or at least for a couple of hours. That mango taste really comes through after some time and when it is not as hot. This is traditionally served as an accompaniment to savory breakfast dishes like upma or idlis but can also be had as a dessert.
If you like this, you may also like other recipes like
- 1 1/2 cup Semolina I use Bombay rava from the Indian store
- 1 cup Cane sugar
- 1/3 cup Ghee or melted unsalted vegan butter
- 1 cup Mango puree or blended mango pulp suggest straining the blended pulp
- 2 tbsp chopped raw cashew
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 10 strands Saffron optional
- 4 tbsp Water or plant milk for soaking saffron optional
- 2 cup Water for cooking the semolina
- Soak the saffron in the reserved water or milk. Heat a heavy saute pan and 2-3 tbsp of ghee. After a minutes add the cashews, raisins and saute. Once the cashews are lightly browned and the rasins look puffy, remove and keep aside.
- In the same pan, pour in the semolina. Saute well till you can smell the aroma of the roasted semolina. You should also be able to see it turn golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
- Again in the same pan, add the 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, slowly add the roasted semolina while stirring constantly. The key is to ensure there are no lumps and all of the semolina is cooked.
- Check to make sure there are no lumps. If you do find it any, break it down. Now add the sugar and stir well for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the remaining ghee and stir. Make sure the ghee is assimilated well.
- Add the saffron along with the milk/water it was soaked in adn mix well. Add the mango puree and stir well again to ensure all the ingrdients are combined well.
- Finally add the roasted cashews and raisins and mix. Turn off the heat when you can see the semolina mixture separate easily from the pan.
- Turn off the heat and serve warm or cold.
- Kesaribath can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. It can frozen for up to 3 months and reheated as well.
- I used 1 cup pf sugar since I was adding canned mango puree which also had some added sugar. Mango also has a lot of sugar. Adjust your sugar accordingly if using fresh mangoes.