Sheera is also known as 'Kesari Bhath' in northern Karnataka especially Bangalore. During my initial visits there I could never figure out what kesari bhath was until I saw it for myself! While I never used to like store bought sweets during my childhood (now I gobble them up shamelessly!), homemade sweets were always welcome. Sheera is considered to be a nutritious evening snack in most homes as it is made of rawa (semolina) and is a good source of carbohydrates & energy (with generous dollops of ghee & cashewnuts & raisins added for good measure to make it even more lipsmacking).
While Sheera is more of a snack in South India (served for breakfast & evening tea along with Upma or Mangalore buns in most Udupi hotels) in the North its variation is called as the Sooji Halwa with the dish being a little more sticky & ghee laden. Nuts like Badams (Almonds) are also generously added.
While the mention of 'sheera' takes me back to my mom's kitchen, it also has a flipside to it. Pineapple sheera also reminds me of funeral masses (the 7th day or month's Mind Mass as per Catholic tradition) where it was customary to serve pineapple sheera and/or vegetable upma, meat puff and a steaming cup of hot coffee or tea to the grieving family, friends & those gathered for the mass. In those days it was common practice for many to attend the Mind Mass of those even remotely known to you :) - no prize for guessing why! Yep - the 'deadly' sheera :)
Recipe Source: My mum
- 1 cup sooji (rawa/semolina)
- 1 fistful cashewnuts
- 15 tsps sugar ( between 12-14 tsps is medium sweet)
- A few raisins
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsps ghee
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder or 1/4 -1/2 tsp yellow food colour or a few strands of saffron mixed in the milk
1. In a thick bottomed pan (or kadai) heat some ghee & fry the sooji for about a minute (till you see it turning slightly golden). Reduce flame and do not wait till the sooji turns really brown. Remove & set aside
2. In the same kadai add some more ghee & fry the raisins & cashewnuts just a little (do not burn)
3. Add the roasted rawa to the cashews & raisins and reduce flame to very low (lesser than sim if you can juggle a bit with the gas knob - unless ofcourse you are using a pan which is non stick of the best quality)
4. In a separate vessel boil the water & milk (1 cup each) till it begins to bubble. Add the salt & sugar
5. Add this boiling liquid to the rawa and quickly add the Turmeric powder/food colour and keep stirring to ensure no lumps are formed.
6. Cover the pan with a lid & stir again after a minute or so.
7. Well cooked sheera will have no lumps & the grains fluffy
8. Serve hot - add a tsp of ghee on top if you dont mind adding a few grams to your waistline! Enjoy!