Rava Kesari is that typical south indian sweet you grow up with so you think it is boring and usual, but years later on a festive day, you make some and eat with a little spoon and BOOM it takes you back to your childhood! Every state in India has its variations of this semolina halwa but most use similar ingredients – semolina/rava, sugar, ghee, flavourings like cardamom and saffron, nuts and raisins.
Rava Kesari is a really popular south Indian sweet and has plenty of variations. My personal favourite is a mixed fruits kesari with pineapple, apple and grapes. I use the same base recipe for it too. Trust me when I say it, this base recipe is the ONLY one you need to make a good rava kesari.
This is a one pot recipe and it requires a pressure cooker!
YES, just like my kitchen famous ( ok and a bit on IG too) Kharabath, this also uses a pressure cooker only! That means limited stirring and lump free kesari. The active cooking time is also less than ten minutes.
For roasting rava
- 1/2 cup rava/semolina
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 2 tbsp chopped cashews
For sugar syrup
- 1 cup sugar use raw sugar or white sugar.
- 1 and 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp kesari colour (orange food colouring)
- 7-8 strands saffron
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- If you are making this kesari for the first time, please read the instructions fully before you start. Ensure all ingredients are prepped and ready to go because it is really quick once we start.
- To a small cooker, add 1/4 cup ghee, 1/2 cup rava and cashews. All three ingredients are added in the same time. Keep the heat to low/medium.
- Simultaneously, in another burner/hob 1½ cups water, 1 cup sugar, kesari food colouring, saffron and cardamom and bring to a simmer. All ingredients are added in the same time. Keep the heat to low/medium. This can slowly simmer while the rava roasts.
- The rava requires some care – so keep stirring it slowly ensuring it gets fully covered in the ghee and roasted.
- It takes about 3 to 5 minutes for the rava to be fully roasted. The best indication for this is to check if the cashews have become golden brown. Once the cashews are golden brown, the rava is roasted too.
- In the meantime, the sugar syrup would be hot and the sugar, fully dissolved.
- Turn off the heat for both rava and sugar syrup. Pour the boiling hot sugar syrup (be careful!) into the roasted rava mixture in cooker.
- Close the cooker, place the 'weight' on. Keep the cooker to rest for 20 minutes.
- In the resting time, no HEAT is required. So, no need to turn the flame on. Let the retained heat in the cooker do its magic.
- Sugar – I have tried this recipe in the same ratio with white sugar, raw sugar, powdered jaggery and brown sugar. The ‘sweetness’ varies depending on the kind of sugar used, but the method works perfectly if you ensure sugar is fully dissolved in water before you mix it in.
- Ghee – The amount of ghee used in this recipe above is perfect for a decadent yet not too greasy kesari. It can be increased to 1/3 cup but not more. If you wish to decrease, you can go as low as 1 tbsp but the kesari might not be as rich and smooth as you would expect.
- Making it vegan – Substitute the ghee for a neutral oil. I have tried it and it is a very light version, ofcourse missing the flavour of ghee.
- Cashews are optional and can be omitted or substituted with another nut of your choice, like almonds.
How does this recipe work?
It works because the cooker is a sealed container that cooks the rava in ‘retained heat’. For this recipe to work perfectly – the rava has to be hot and the water you are adding has to be hot too. The resting time of 20 minutes ‘cooks’ the rava and vegetables in the heat that is trapped into the cooker.
Scaling this recipe
For the measure of 1/2 cup rava, a 2L or the smallest you have works best. This recipe will also work in a 3L cooker. If you are using a larger pressure cooker than that, I recommend you double the recipe.
The ratio of rava:sugar: water is 1:2:3. The amount of ghee used is to your preference, however I highly recommend keeping it to half of rava. With this ratio, you can make as much as 5 cups of rava or as little as 1/4 cup of rava.
I have personally tried this recipe with a maximum of 2 cups rava in a 5L cooker and 1/4 cup rava in a 2L cooker and can confirm both works!
Where is this recipe/technique from?
This recipe and this technique of cooking in retained heat was first shared in 2013 by Chitvish in her Facebook page. She based it on her knowledge of chemistry ( to use retained heat) and her years of cooking knowledge. I have seen numerous blogs, forums using the idea and recipe ( the actual ratios) with no mention to her post, so I feel happy to be responsible and give credit to her.
I made rava kesari using this technique for the first time in October 2014 for Diwali. I was so amazed at how easy it was. Mind you, I was making kesari for the very first time!
Step by Step Instructions to make Rava Kesari in a pressure cooker
To a small cooker, add 1/4 cup ghee, 1/2 cup rava and cashews. Add all the ingredients together. Keep the heat to low/medium.
It will take 3 to 5 minutes for rava to roast well. The best indication for this is to check if the cashews have become golden brown. If a cashew is golden brown, it means the rava is roasted well too.
Simultaneously, in another burner/hob 1½ cups water, 1 cup sugar, kesari food colouring, saffron and cardamom and bring to a simmer. All ingredients are added in the same time. Keep the heat to low/medium. This can slowly simmer while the rava roasts.
Turn off the heat for both rava once it is roasted and for the sugar syrup once the sugar is dissolved. Pour the boiling hot sugar syrup (be careful!) into the roasted rava mixture in cooker.
I shared this recipe on my Instagram for the first time in 2020 and later in 2021 on my stories with stepwise instructions on how to make it. You can be assured that I have tried it for 7 years and made it several times before posting it here. This has been recreated in several kitchens and I have received DMs on Instagram about how amazed they are with how this works.
Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help me learn more about your preferences and other readers.
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RadhikaJuly 26, 2021 at 12:33 am
This is the only kesari recipe you will ever need! I only make it this way after I saw Arch’s stepwise instructions in stories a short while back.
myflavourfactoryJuly 27, 2021 at 10:29 am
Thank you Radhika!
VaniJuly 27, 2021 at 7:59 pm
This is the best kesari ever! After trying out khara bath I really wanted to try this recipe and I’m so glad I did. Thank you Arch for the detailed instructions.
myflavourfactoryJuly 28, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Thank you Vani,so glad you tried it and liked it!
KeerthiOctober 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm
Perfect..! Perfect…! Perfect…! Used the same recipe for IP ?
Reshmi Yadav.RAugust 1, 2021 at 5:01 pm
Hello..I hope you are doing good.I m your silent follower in Instagram from 3 + plus years..I have tried many recipes of yours.. Today,I tried kesari for the first time,and it was extremely delicious ?.Thank You so much for the easy peasy recipe..
myflavourfactoryAugust 5, 2021 at 12:07 am
Thank you so much Reshmi!
RamyaAugust 15, 2021 at 7:36 pm
Hi Archana, Will this recipe work for fruit kesari?
myflavourfactoryAugust 15, 2021 at 9:07 pm
Yes Ramya, I have tried it with half cup of mixed fruit – pineapple, grapes, apple. You can also reduce the sugar a bit but do not reduce the water. The fruit is added to the sugar syrup and boiled a bit before adding to rava.
Priyadarshini. EAugust 20, 2021 at 8:15 pm
Best kesari you will ever make….. Easy and takes less than 10 mins to make it…. Never making kesari any other way.
myflavourfactorySeptember 17, 2021 at 10:45 am
Thank you Priya 🙂
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DeepikaOctober 11, 2021 at 12:15 am
I would name this recipe as magic Kesari! ❤️ It was yummax! Thanks a lot for such an amazing recipe!
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NiJune 21, 2022 at 2:03 pm
Can i substitute the water with milk? My family likes the milk version of this
myflavourfactoryJuly 5, 2022 at 8:40 pm
No, not in this recipe.
PriyaFebruary 12, 2023 at 6:56 am
So kind and lovely of you to share the credits! You are amazing arch 🙂
myflavourfactoryFebruary 16, 2023 at 5:44 pm
thanks priya, CV has been a huge influence on my cooking so very much due.