Navaratri Naivedyam ~ Milk Rava Kesari

Semolina halwa is a delicious sweet dish prepared across India. It is popular enough to be a festive treat or a part of religious offerings and quick enough to whip up as a treat to satiate one's sweet tooth or to serve as a part of the breakfast meal. In fact, rava kesari is one of the naivedyams offered to Goddess on the sixth day of Dasara / Navratri. 
It is one of the easiest dishes to try if venturing into Indian sweet making. It is called sooji ka halwa / sheera in the north while the south Indian twist to this dish is the addition of orange food color where it is called rava kesari or kesari bhath, kesari referring to the orange color. 

Semolina is toasted in a generous amount of ghee and then cooked in water and sugar usually. My version today is made with milk which makes it richer. For a vegan version, milk can be replaced by water and the raisins and cashews can be toasted in a little oil or can be directly added to the boiling water, without toasting. The orange food color is optional as well. I have made a small portion here but the recipe can be easily doubled or mulitiplied. 

2 tbsp. ghee (Add more if preferred)
1 tsp. each, raisins and cashews
1/4 cup semolina
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. milk
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
Few drops of orange food color
1/4 cup sugar (Add 1 tbsp. more if sweeter version preferred.)
* Pour milk into a pan and bring it to a boil on low flame, stirring occasionally. Add cardamom and food color if using to the hot milk and stir.
* Meanwhile, heat ghee in a pan and add cashews and raisins. Toast until cashews turn golden brown and raisins are plump. Remove the raisins and cashews with a slotted spoon onto a plate and keep them aside.
* Add semolina to the same ghee pan. Toast on medium flame continuously stirring until it starts to change color slightly and the aroma starts coming, about 3 - 4 minutes. 
*  Lower the heat setting to minimum and add the toasted semolina to the milk pan, continuously stirring the mixture while doing so to avoid any lumps from forming. Cover and cook until semolina is done.
* Next stir in sugar and cook until all the sugar is absorbed by the mixture. Add the toasted cashews and raisins to it and mix well.
* Serve it warm.

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