Aval Kesari (South Indian Poha Sheera for Gokulashtami)

  • August 1, 2020
  • 2 Comments
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Aval Kesari is a Simple and Easy South Indian Dessert made for Krishna Jayanti or Gokulashtami for Lord Krishna. Recipe under 30 minutes with ingredients easily available at home.

Aval Kesari (South Indian Poha Sheera  for Gokulashtami)

Today’s recipe is an easy South Indian Dessert made with Poha or Flattened Rice. Presenting melt in mouth, soft and delicious Aval Kesari or South Indian Sheera using poha. This sweet is made during Gokulashtami or Krishna Jayanti in South India as Aval or Poha is Lord Krishna’s favourite.

Kesari is a popular South Indian sweet or dessert that is similar to Sooji Halwa or Sheera. Traditionally it is made with Semolina, Ghee, Sugar, Food Colour, Nuts and Water. Very basic ingredients and a very simple process to follow.

Last month I posted the recipe of Banana Sheera that is made during Satyanarayan Pooja and some readers asked me for a gluten free version. Hence, I thought of sharing this traditional recipe that uses poha, aval (tamil) or flattened rice (gluten free) instead of semolina.

As you can see from the picture below, this kesari is super soft in texture (softer than semolina halwa). The ingredients for this sweet are easily available in your kitchen so dishing this out quickly when family demands for “kuch meetha” will be a matter of minutes.

Soft Aval Kesari made with Poha

I have made a very small batch of kesari as its just for the two of us at home. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled based on number of family members at home.

I usually make this at home on Fridays as prasadam and for Krishna Jayanti or Gokulashtami as neivedyam for Lord Krishna along with his few favourites – Milk, Makkhan (White Butter or Vennai in Tamil), Curd etc.

According to Hindu Mythology, Sudama (Krishna’s best friend) who was a poor person, unable to offer the Lord anything else, carries some poha tied in a cloth while going to meet him in his palace. Overwhelmed with happiness and the kind gesture by Sudama, Lord Krishna blesses him with wealth and happiness. The bond between Krishna and Sudama (rich and poor) exemplifies that friendship seeks no wealthy gifts. Love for each other is what matters.

As kids, we loved hearing stories about Lord Krishna. After all he is remembered more as the “naughty kid” or “Natkhat” as they say in Hindi. Since I don’t have a brother, I tie Lord Krishna a Rakhi. For me, this festival is extra special as it celebrates “my brother’s birth”.

In South India, Poha or Aval is made in different varieties – Kheer, Sweet and savory versions using this ingredient are quite popular for Gokulashtami.

Ingredients for Aval Kesari

(Please note that the exact measurements are given below in the recipe card)

Aval (Jada Poha, Thick Poha or Aval to be used) Thin Poha will not work for this recipe. Any variety of Poha can be used – Brown, Red etc. The colour might be slightly different but the taste and softness will not be affected.

Sugar – Raw Sugar used for the recipe.

Ghee or Clarified Butter – Cannot be substituted with Oil. I use Organic A2 Ghee. Note – Measure the ghee after melting.

Nuts – I have used chopped and unsalted almonds and cashews. You can add raisins, pista (unsalted) too.

Food Colour – Kesari has the trademark “orange” colour. I have however, used very less food colour. Just ensure you are using a good brand. I have used Sprig Brand Orange Paprika colour for this recipe.

Water for cooking the Aval Kesari and Cardamom powder for the aroma / flavor.

Aval Kesari Recipe Step by Step

(1) Heat a pan, add 1 tbsp ghee (melted ghee used here).

Melting the ghee in pan

(2) Add roughly chopped dry fruits (cashews and almonds). Saute them until golden brown. Remove the nuts on to a plate and keep aside. Place the pan back on the stove.

roasting the dry fruits in ghee
Roasted cashew and almonds

(3) In the same pan (with some residual ghee) add the poha. Saute the poha until you get a nice aroma and the poha crisps up. It will just take couple of minutes for this process so ensure the flame is low and you are sauteing continuously with a wooden spatula or spoon.

Aval roasted in ghee
Roasting the poha

(4) Once the poha is roasted, switch off the flame, keep the poha aside to cool.

Cooling the roasted poha for grinding

(5) Once cool, grind the roasted poha (texture as shown below).

Roasted and ground aval or poha

(6) Heat the pan and add 1 cup water.

(7) Once you see the water bubbling, add the roasted poha. Mix well to avoid lumps. (A whisk is a good option for beginners)

Heating the water to make kesari
Mixing the roasted ground poha in hot water

(8) Add the food colour (2 drops used here) and mix well. Once you see the moisture has been absorbed, measure and add 1/2 cup sugar. Mix well.

Adding orange food colour
Mixing the poha with water and food colour
Adding raw sugar to the kesari

(9) Now add 2 tbsp of melted ghee. Mix again and allow it to thicken slightly.

Adding melted ghee to the kesari

(10) Add the roasted nuts and switch off the flame. Now add cardamom powder, mix well and serve immediately.

Adding the roasted nuts to the kesari
Aval Kesari is ready to serve

If you want to avoid food colour – In a bowl, add 2 tbsp of warm water and a pinch of kesar strands. Mix well and let it stand for atleast 20 minutes. You can use this in Step 8 above. If you are using this method, reduce the water quantity (1 cup) by 2 tbsp else the kesari will be sticky. Proportion is key here. NOTE – Colour depends on the quality of saffron used.

Pro Cleaning Tip – Always pour hot water over the utensils that are used for making desserts including measuring cups, spoons, spatula, pans etc. Wait for 10 minutes and then proceed to scrub and clean. Comes out spotless without any residual smell or ghee residue.

Recipe Notes

  • You can add up to 1/4 cup of ghee for this particular recipe but I have used only 3 tbsp. It doesn’t compromise with taste and keeps it a bit light.
  • Roasting the poha is the key step. Ensure the flame is low, saute it well so that the roasting is even. Do not leave the pan unattended.
  • I have used raw sugar here. You can add refined sugar as well.
  • Add any nuts of your choice based on availability.

Shelf life of Aval Kesari – Stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can be easily heated in a microwave and eaten.

Recipes for Gokulashtami from the blog

Aval Kesari for Janmashtami

Aval Kesari (South Indian Poha Sheera for Gokulashtami)

Vidya Narayan
Aval Kesari is a South Indian sweet recipe made with Poha or Flattened Rice for Gokulashtami or Krishna Jayanti. Easy Indian dessert recipe under 30 mins.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Cooling Time 5 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup Aval or Thick Poha (Jada Poha) 1/2 cup is 125 ml measurement
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 3 tbsp Ghee or Clarified Butter 1 tbsp is 15 ml (read notes below)
  • 2 drops Orange Food Colour
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Dry fruits (Cashew and Almonds)
  • A small pinch of cardamom powder
  • Few Saffron strands for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Heat a pan, add 1 tbsp ghee (melted ghee used here).
  • Add roughly chopped dry fruits (cashews and almonds). Saute them until golden brown. Remove the nuts on to a plate and keep aside. Place the pan back on the stove.
  • In the same pan (with some residual ghee) add the poha. Saute the poha until you get a nice aroma and the poha crisps up. It will just take couple of minutes for this process so ensure the flame is low and you are sauteing continuously with a wooden spatula or spoon.
  • Once the poha is roasted, switch off the flame, keep the poha aside to cool.
  • Once cool, grind the roasted poha.
  • Heat the pan and add 1 cup water.
  • Once you see the water bubbling, add the roasted poha. Mix well to avoid lumps. (A whisk is a good option for beginners)
  • Add the food colour (2 drops used here) and mix well. Once you see the moisture has been absorbed, measure and add 1/2 cup sugar. Mix well.
  • Now add 2 tbsp of melted ghee. Mix again and allow it to thicken slightly.
  • Add the roasted nuts and switch off the flame. Now add cardamom powder, mix well and serve immediately.

Notes

  • You can add up to 1/4 cup of ghee for this particular recipe but I have used only 3 tbsp. It doesn’t compromise with taste and keeps it a bit light.
  • Out of the 3 tbsp ghee, 1 tbsp is for roasting nuts and poha and the remaining 2 tbsp is for the kesari. Measure the ghee after melting. 
  • Roasting the poha is the key step. Ensure the flame is low, saute it well so that the roasting is even. Do not leave the pan unattended.
  • I have used raw sugar here. You can add refined sugar as well.
  • Add any nuts of your choice based on availability.
Keyword aval kesari, Janmashtami Recipes, poha sheera
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Vidya Narayan

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Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Geeta Konda

    Healthy, instant, and yummy sweet dish made with basic ingredients available at home. Tried it and it turned out super tasty. Keep inspiring us Vidya .?

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you so much for the encouragement Geeta – Always!

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