Rava Kesari Recipe (Kesari Bath)
Kesari Recipe – Rava kesari is a traditional South Indian dessert made with semolina, sugar, ghee, nuts and raisins. In this post I show you how to make smooth, delicious, aromatic and fluffy kesari with video and stepwise photos. Also known as kesari bath, this 25 minutes sweet is super simple to make, a total crowd pleaser and needs only pantry ingredients. This is a perfect dessert for every occasion, be it a festival, celebration or a weekend family breakfast.
In India, we make many different kinds of halwas, which are the Indian style puddings & rava kesari is one of them. This semolina dessert is made in many regions across India, so the recipes vary widely from one region to other. The version I have shared here is specific to South India.
About Rava Kesari
Rava kesari is a sweet dish from South Indian cuisine. “Rava” is a South Indian word for “semolina” and “Kesari” is an Indian word for “orange or saffron color”, which is the key ingredient in this dish. So rava kesari literally means “semolina that’s been prepared with orange color”.
While making rava kesari, artificial kesari color is added to impart a bright orange color to the dessert. Most often a powder or liquid color is added. However this can be easily replaced with saffron strands like the way I have done. If you do not have saffron use natural edible color.
Kesari is made in most South Indian households & even in Temples to offer the Hindu Gods or deities during Pooja, festivals & auspicious days like Ganesh chaturthi, Navratri, Krishna ashtami etc.
A lot of us also eat rava kesari as a breakfast or as an after meal dessert. It is made so often on every other occasion since it is very quick and simple to make.
We serve this rava kesari with savory snacks like
This dessert is also known as just kesari or Kesari bath in Karnataka, This is a popular dish served in tiffin centers of Karnataka, a Southern Indian State. It is pretty much served in every meal platter & in a breakfast platter too.
Chow chow bath is one such platter where khara bath & kesari bath are served with coriander coconut chutney.
Sheera or Suji halwa is another dessert which is similar to rava kesari but made without any saffron or orange color. It is known as suji halwa in North India and as sheera in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
How To Make Rava Kesari (Stepwise Photos)
1. Heat 2 table spoons of ghee in a heavy bottom pot. Split open 12 cashew nuts and clean them. Fry them until slightly golden.
2. Add 12 raisins and fry until they turn plump. Remove them to a plate.
3. Next pour the 1 cup rava. Mix well to coat the rava in ghee.
4. Begin to roast the rava well on a low to medium heat until crunchy and slightly aromatic. Do not brown it.
5. While the semolina is getting roasted, bring 2½ cups water to a boil in a pot. You can also use milk or a mix of both. Kesari bath is mostly made with water and not milk.
Incorporate water with rava
6. When the water comes to a rolling boil, pour it to the rava slowly in a stream. Stirring consistently with the other hand. Make sure the flame is medium at this stage.
7. There should be no lumps.
8. Continue to cook stirring consistently until the water is absorbed completely.
9. Lower the flame and cook covered for 2 to 3 mins.
10. Add ¾ to 1 cup sugar and mix well. I use 1 cup. If you prefer low sweet, then add lesser. Sugar melts and makes the mixture gooey. Then continue to cook until all the moisture evaporates.
11. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder and kesari color. I used 2 pinches of saffron soaked in 2 tbsps hot water. If you do not have the kesari, just skip it.
12. Next add 3 to 4 tbsp ghee. I used 3 tbsp.
13. Mix well and continue to cook until the mixture leaves the pan. Cook covered for 2 mins. This is optional.
Garnish rava kesari with nuts and raisins. When it cools down you can fluff up with a fork.
If you want to serve it like in the restaurants, simply spoon the kesari to a greased bowl and press down gently (without pressure) using a spoon. Invert it on to a serving plate and shake off gently.
Proportions: The key to make best rava kesari is the right proportion of rava, water and ghee. The proportions shared in this recipe yield soft, light and fluffy kesari that isn’t too greasy. For every 1 cup rava, use 2.5 cups water. If you want a softer & moist melt-in-the mouth kesari, use 3 cups water, 1 cup ghee and 1½ cups sugar. This is the version you can make for celebrations and occasions.
Roasting: Roasting rava in ghee until slightly crunchy and aromatic is very important. Roast on a low flame so semolina does not discolour yet turns crunchy. Well roasted rava will make your kesari fluffy and won’t turn sticky.
Stirring: Stirring consistently while pouring water to the rava is very important to prevent lumps.
Hot water: Make sure the water is hot when you pour the water to the rava. Also ensure the heat is medium to low to avoid splatters.
Ingredients & substitutes
Rava/ semolina: Originally rava kesari is made with fine semolina known as bombay rava. But many households now a days even use golden fine wheat rava or fine bansi rava to make this. The flavor of the one made with whole wheat rava is different from semolina. If you prefer to use the whole grain rava, then use 3 cups water.
Liquid: In this post, I have used water to cook the semolina. You may substitute water with milk. I personally prefer using half water and half milk. Using only milk makes the sweet heavy.
Sweetener: Sugar is the common sweetener used in this recipe. Though jaggery can be used the flavour and the color of the kesari won’t be the same with jaggery. Infact my family does not like jaggery in kesari.
Rava Kesari Recipe (Kesari Bath)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup semolina or fine rava or suji
- ¾ to 1 cup sugar (prefer organic)
- 2 ½ cups water or milk (refer notes)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder or elaichi powder
- 2 pinches natural kesari color or saffron strands
- 5 to 6 tablespoons Ghee or clarified butter (I used 5 tbsps)
- 12 Cashews (use as needed)
- 12 raisins (use as needed)
- Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottom pot and fry cashews until light golden.
- Then add raisins and fry until they swell up. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- In the same ghee add the rava and fry on a low to medium heat until aromatic and crunchy.
- Do not brown or discolor the rava as the aroma of the rava kesari will change.
- While the rava is getting roasted, pour water to another pot and bring it to a boil.
How to Make Rava Kesari
- When the water turns boiling hot, slowly pour it to the rava by consistently stirring to prevent lumps.
- The water will be absorbed by the semolina soon. Keep stirring and make sure there are no lumps.
- When you see there is no excess water in the pan, then cover and cook on a low flame for 2 to 3 mins. This is just to ensure rava is cooked completely and turns fluffy.
- Add sugar and mix well. Sugar will dissolve and the entire rava kesari mixture turns gooey.
- Keep stirring and cook until the mixture thickens and the moisture is evaporated.
- Then sprinkle cardamom powder, saffron or kesari and ghee. I used about 3 tbsp ghee.
- Mix well and cook for 2 to 3 mins until the rava kesari leaves the pan. Cover and rest for 2 to 4 mins.
- Grease a mould or round cup and then scoop some rava kesari to it. Level the top.
- Invert the bowl or mould to a plate. Gently shake off. Garnish rava kesari with cashews and nuts.
- You can also fluff up the rava kesari with a fork to make it fluffy.
- Water: Most people prefer to use 2½ cups water for every cup of rava. If you use more water, you have to use more ghee & even sugar.
- A lot of South Indians consider 1:1:2:3 cups as the perfect ratio for rava:ghee: sugar: water. Meaning for 1 cup rava, 1 cup ghee, 2 cups sugar and 3 cups water is used. These are the ratios used when made for special occasions like wedding and celebrations.
- Do not reduce the quantity of ghee as it make the rava kesari sticky.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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Thank you Swasthi. You are my favorite Indian food blogger & I love all your recipes. They are so much fun to learn and cook. I visited Indian, Coimbatore for a month. I visited many temples and we ate at South Indian restaurants. Our breakfast consisted of Rava kesari and I was looking forward to try it. I tried your kesari recipe and it turned out delicious. I did not have saffron so added a bit of food color. Thank you, this is the best Indian dessert.
Looks like you had a lovely experience! That’s great! Thanks for sharing back how this kesari recipe went for you.
Made this rava kesari for a potluck along with your batata vada. Everyone just loved them. Thank you for the beautiful videos.
So happy to know Sumana. Thank you for sharing how they turned out.
Finally I successfully made rava kesari today. It was delicious and not too sweet or greasy but too good.
Glad to know Madhura. Thank you!
Made KESARI USING SWATHI’s recipe, added a pinch of edible camphor (pachakarpoor) and it turned out fabulous. Thank you Swathi
Thank you for trying and sharing the outcome.
Hi I have tried ur recipe… taste was good but it turned out sticky ….I have used 2.5 cups of rava, 7cups of water ,2.5 cups of sugar n 220 ml ghee
For 2.5 cups rava you can use max, 6.25 cups water.
If you have read my notes on using 1:3 proportion, that works only for 1x recipe. For 2x and 3x, 1:3 ratio won’t work. The logic is similar to cooking rice in large quantity. When we cook lots of basmati rice, we cut down the water. The same way if you make over 1x of this recipe, 1:2.5 is max you can use. If you want to use 1:3 ratio (rava:water) then you have to use 1:1 rava:ghee.
Hope this clears. I will add a note in the recipe card for further reference.
Hello swasthi….rava kesari is a super easy recipe….and thank you for making it yet more convenient and simple and yummmmmmmm😋😋
Glad you like it!
Thank you so much!
it was wonderful my family is fighting to take the big part .
Glad to know you all liked it. Thank you!
I made a huge batch and kept it in the fridge. How long will it last before it goes bad?
It keeps good for 3 to 4 days. If you have made without milk then you can also freeze it for 2 to 3 month.
This dish turned out super delicious !!! And my husband loved it too !!!!
Thank you for this wonderful recipe Swasthi :):)
Glad to know! Thank you
Challa bagunthi mee recipelu. ?
Thank you so much!
I made kesari bath today. I must say Your recipies never go wrong….
Thank you Sowmya
Hi Madam. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe. I made Rava Kesari for the first time on my own and it came out very well. May I know how long I can store it?
For your information, I added half of both milk and water when making it.
I think I am late. You can store it in the fridge for 2 days.
I add turmeric powder instead of colour powder
which has chemical which is harmful to us.
Swasthi Madam , May I have your phone number or email address
You can find my email id in the about page
Hi i tried the kesari. It came out really well.
Glad to know!
I am prepared kesari bath today morning
This came really very tasty
You are welcome
Hi, I just wanted to make something sweet with items available at every home
I found this, I will try this and will tell the feedback
I just want yo know,whether I can use pinch of turmeric powder for color rather than the artificial color
Yes you can use turmeric
Thank you for this recipe! I had this at a vegetarian restaurant and wanted to make it at home, didn’t know THIS was the sweet!
You are welcome! Glad you found it.
Well I started using your recipe by making prawns biriyani. It turned out very well. Also the ingredients used are very simple. Now I have started preparing many more dishes and each one turns out very tasty. Thank you so much for sharing the recipes
Hi Shirly Vijayan,
You are most welcome. Glad you liked the recipes. Thanks much for the comment. Hope you enjoy more recipes from here!
This was a convinient recipe and it turned out well in my first try. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!
Glad you liked it!