When I was in 6th grade, we had to do a project in Social Studies class on Greece. For my project, I decided to bring in a Greek dessert to class.
Well, looking at the recipe books from the library (sadly no internet back then), I thought that the Greek Semolina Halva sounded a lot like the Indian Kesari my mom made.
With my mom’s help, I made the Kesari, with a few substitutions (cinnamon instead of cardamom, almonds instead of cashews) and brought it to class as Greek Halva. It was enjoyed by all.
Here it is in its more traditional form from Southern India.
A key component of Kesari is “ghee,” a form of clarified butter from India.
It’s very easy to make and stays fresh for a long time.
Add 2 sticks of butter (1 cup) to a heavy saucepan on low/medium heat.
Initially, it will be very foamy on top.
The ghee will continue to get clearer on top as it cooks.
When the ghee is clear it is ready.
Strain into a container that can be tightly sealed.
When the ghee cools, it looks like this:
1/2 cup ghee (ie made from 1 stick of butter)
1 oz chopped raw cashews
1 cup finely ground semolina
1.5 cups water
10 drops of yellow food coloring
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
a pinch of saffron
Heat one tablespoon of ghee in a heavy bottomed skillet. Keep the temperature on low/medium.
Add the chopped cashews and roast until golden.
Add the semolina and roast until golden as well. Keep mixing, otherwise the semolina will burn.
Add about 10 drops of yellow food coloring to one cup of water.
Add this to the roasting semolina. Add 4 tablespoons of the ghee. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until the semolina appears soft and cooked.
Add the sugar and remaining ghee. Mix well and cook until the liquid is gone.
Add the saffron and cardamom. Mix well.
Remove from the heat and enjoy!