Fruit Kesari (Semolina Halwa with fruits and nuts)



Think of the word “Sweets” and my mind flashes to the variety of Indian sweets that have been adapted and modified and borne out of the so many different cuisines and regions in India…Since Sugarcane has been growing in India for thousands of years, the art of refining sugar was invented there. From its simplest most unrefined form, to the pure refined crystallised forms available in branded packets, we have come a long long way. No other country has the multitude of sweets like the way India does. Milk based sweets like Gulab Jamun, Rosgullas, to the ones made with all purpose flour, made with khoya, with urad flour, condensed milk, besan, milk powder, coconut, the list is simply endless.

My personal favourite has been the most easiest of them all – Rava Kesari. My all time favourite has been the Pineapple Kesari served at weddings and at Sangeetha Restaurants. This one is a variant of the rava kesari and is also served at south indian tamil weddings. Fruit Kesari has a distinctive flavour as it does not have edible camphor or the cardamom powder. The aroma of the fruits in it, itself endears to the flavour of this sweet. This is a version by Revathy Shanmugham, which I had seen in a TV show long ago and noted it handwritten in my little recipe diary. This month for the Shh Cooking Challenge, my secret ingredients given by Priya Suresh, was a fruit and a nut. My secret ingredients were Green Grapes and cashew nuts. Try it and you will love its simple yet robust flavours.


1 Cup Rava Fine.

2 Cups Sugar.

2 1/2 Cups Water.

1/3 Cup Finely chopped pineapple.

1/3 Cup Finely chopped apples.

1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Grapes (Green).

3 Tbsp  Oil.

2-3 Tbsp Ghee.

A pinch of salt.

1 Tsp Pineapple Essence.

8-10 Cashew Pieces.

10 Raisins/ Sultanas.


  • Chop the pineapple, apple and green grapes in to really small pieces and place them in three cups. Add a tbsp of sugar on to each of the cups and mix it in. This will coat the fruits with sweet and also remove the undesirable tartness in certain fruits. Keep it that way for about 30 minutes.
  • Take a wide mouth heavy kadai and add the oil and a tbsp of ghee. Fry the raisins and cashews until the raisins get plump and the cashews fry to a golden colour. Drain out the excess oil and remove the raisins and cashews.
  • In the same kadai, add the 1 cup of rava and roast on a medium low flame for a couple minutes until the raw smell is gone. Remove from kadai.
  • Add the 2 1/2 cups water to the kadai and allow to boil.
  • When it comes to a rolling boil, slowly tip in the roasta rava and stir it with a whisk/ladle on a medium low flame until the rava gets all mixed in.
  • The rava absorbs the water and rapidly cooks to resemble upma. At this point, add the measured 2 cups of sugar.
  • As the sugar melts, the rava gets watery and slightly lumpy. Keep stirring and dissolving the little lumps until the mixture gets smooth.
  • Add the chopped fruits – pineapple, apple, and green grapes to the mix, pineapple essence, any food colouring if needed and a small pinch of salt.
  • Add a spoon of ghee now and then and keep stirring until the kesari reaches the desired consistency.
  • Garnish with fried cashew nuts and raisins and serve Hot!



Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Saravana Bhavan Vegetable Kurma. ( Vegetables in spicy coconut fennel gravy)


Vegetable Kurma is a popular accompaniment for Chappathi , Parotta, Aappam and Phulkas. Generally, a kurma is a coconut based stew, with vegetables and whole spices. The very first time I ever had kurma was when my mom made it for us one day to go with rotis. I was floored by the aroma of fennel in a gravy, as it was the first time that she had ground up fennel and coconuts to use as a base for the steamed veggies. I was hooked. After marriage, TH loved parotta and kurma and his favorite was the version available at Saravana Bhavan. I was working in Chennai at that time and during lunch, there was the usual talk about recipes, and swapping notes on making them. One of my colleagues, was unarguably the expert in making this particular kurma. She was kind enough to share this with me and I remember scribbling it behind a payment counterfoil and had assumed to have kept it safely…It was too safe that I could never recollect where I had kept it before trying it even once. Many years later, after many moves, and many more homes, I found this counterfoil. safely stuck to the inner pocket of my diary! I made certain modifications referring to this page, and tried this out over the weekend. The aroma of hot kurma and parottas at home, really reminded me of Saravanaa Bhavan, back home in Madras!



1 Carrot Diced in to cubes.

1 Cup Beans diced in to 1 inch long pieces.

1 Cup Cauliflower Florettes.

1/2 Cup Peas.

1 Onion Diced FIne.

1 Tomato Diced.

1 Tsp Freshly Grated GInger.

1 Tsp Freshly Grated Garlic.

2 Tsp Dhania Powder/ Corriander Powder.

3/4 – 1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder.

1/4 Tsp Garam Masala Powder.

2 Tsp Lemon Juice.

Salt to taste.


2 Bay Leaves.

2 Mace Pieces.

Handful Curry Leaves.

2 Tbsp Mint Leaves. ( If using dried mint limit to 1 Tbsp).

Grind to a Smooth Paste:

1/2 Cup Coconut Grated.

8-10 Cashew

1 tsp Poppy Seeds/ Khus Khus.

1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds/ Somph.

2 Green Chillies.

3 Tsp Pottu Kadalai/ Chutney Dhal.

1 Inch Cinnamon Piece broken in to pieces.

1 Tsp Cardamom Powder or 2 Cardamom Pods.


  • Half cook the diced veggies in water, adding a spoon of salt. Drain the veggies and save the water.
  • Grind all the ingredients under ” Grind to a Smooth Paste” , adding little water. The paste should be completely pulsed and smooth.
  • In a wide mouthed kadai or wok, add about 2-3 tbsp oil and pop in the seasonings – Bay Leaf, Mace, Mint, Curry Leaves and allow to saute in the oil. The aroma of the mint getting fried is unmistakably fresh and inviting.
  • Add the diced onions, ginger paste, garlic paste and allow to saute well.
  • When its well done, add the chopped tomatoes and saute for a couple minutes. After a few minutes add the ground paste.
  • Now add the dry powders – Red Chilli Powder, Dhania Powder, Turmeric Powder, and Garam Masala and mix in well.
  • Keep stirring the kadai,  until they are well done and  there is no raw smell from the spice powders.
  • Add the lemon juice and keep stirring.
  • At this point, care should be taken to make sure that the gravy does not burn or stick to the bottom of the kadai. Keep the flame on medium and contuinue sturring until yuou see the oil slightly leaving the sides if the gravy.
  • Add the half cooked veggies, as well as the water in which the veggies were cooked.
  • Adjust the water content, depending on the consistency of the kurma thats desired.
  • We dont prefer it to be too thick, or too runny.
  • Garnish with finely chopped corriander leaves and serve it piping hot with Hot Parottas/ Garlic Naan!