Sheera (or Halwa) is a typical Indian sweet dish made with semolina (known as either “rava” or “sooji” in India). It is sweetened with sugar and flavored with aromatic spices, nuts and raisins. Sheera can be eaten for breakfast, served with afternoon tea or eaten as a dessert. It is very easy to prepare and simply heavenly to eat. It is the quintessential comfort food and always a favorite in my house.
If you don’t have semolina, you can always use good old Cream of Wheat. It works just as well and tastes great (just buy the PLAIN instant, 1 minute or 2½ minute varieties). Rava or sooji is easily available in every Indian grocery store and comes in coarse, fine and superfine varieties (all will work but will have varying textures).
SHEERA (Sweetened Semolina with Raisins & Nuts)
1 cup semolina (rava, sooji or Cream of Wheat)
¾ cup sugar (to taste)*
3 tbsp butter (unsalted) or ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup milk (can use 2%, 1% or even skim milk)
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup cashew pieces, toasted
2-3 cardamom pods (lightly crushed)
pinch of saffron
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
In a large flat skillet on medium high, heat the butter and add the semolina when just melted. Keep stirring continuously so as not to burn until the semolina turns light brown in color and a nutty fragrance is emitted. Also, add the raisins. This may take up to 5-6 minutes. Simultaneously on another burner, in a saucepan on medium, gently bring the milk to a low boil. Add the saffron and let steep for 5 minutes. Add the warmed saffron milk slowly, while stirring, to the toasted semolina, raisin and butter mixture so as not to form any lumps. Stir to combine well, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 4-5 minutes. Stir and add the sugar, nuts, freshly grated nutmeg and the cardamom pods. Cover and let cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!
For a different flavor try adding an over ripe mashed banana to the sheera just after adding the warmed saffron milk.
*You can also making this dish using Splenda for Cooking and Baking.