“Sheera” (Sweet Semolina Pudding) is not a stranger to any Indian kitchen. However, traditional recipes demand equal portions of ghee (clarified butter) and sugar that make it so rich as well as delicious. Expensive ingredients like Saffron, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Nuts & good old milk give it a Royal Touch. I like to call it Shahi Sheera-E-Azam.
In Hindu households, it is made for Satyanarayan Puja or any other religious fares that require an offering to be later distributed amongst friends and family.
My Aai (my mother) made this Sheera at least once a week, because we simply loved it. My Baba (my father) had a sweet tooth that my son has inherited gladly J He digs sweets. If kids here in the US find comfort in Macaroni & Cheese, Udeet (my son) has his heart and soul set in this Sheera!!
I follow my Aai’s (my mother) recipe to the T. There are some recipes that are traditional, some conventional and the rest are Aai made J (mother-made), don’t you agree? The bucket list for India trips or when Aai is visiting is standard, starts with Sheera, Besan Ladu, Khavyachi Poli (sweet cheese bread-Maharashtrian speciality), methi paratha (fenugreek infused Indian bread), Omlette (trust me it’s the best thick crepe ever), egg paratha so on and so forth.J But, these days when she meets me, she has a bucket list of her own :P.
Anyway, so here’s the blissful version of my Aai’s J
- 1 cup fine semolina-roasted well. (It could be done in microwave, but you need to adjust the timing based on your microwave)
- ½-3/4 cup organic clarified butter/ghee. (My mother does not go heavy handed on the ghee for obvious reasons.)
- ¼ cup warm water.
- ½ cup milk.
- 3 tbsps. Cardamom powder.
- 2 tbsps. Powdered pecans, cashews and almonds.(I used to call whole nuts into sheera or anything as garbage “kachra”,so my mother started powdering all nuts. It still is a great trick to get those power nuts into your kid’s tummy easily!)
- 5-7 strands of saffron soaked in warm milk.
- Upto 1 cup sugar (I use organic brown sugar. It gives better taste. But you can use completely white or brown or a combination of both.)
- 20 minutes of your precious time.
- Last but not the least, love and selflessness J. It is believed that at Gurudwaras the Khada prasad (wheat flour sweet pudding) is made while chanting the holy name of god, with dedication and love. The positive energy of the Gurudwara and chants fill the prasad with warmth and goodness that the taste is pristine of the offering. My Aai says that when a mother makes it with all her heart, any food could taste better. So make sure, you are physically and mentally in the moment J. It will taste nothing but awesome, the proportions and recipe does not matter much then.
- Take a wok/kadhai and heat the ghee. I add a spoonful at a time.One can always add more, but cannot take out if it’s a lot. Moreover, it thickens when kept aside after the sheera is made, leaving in bits of solidified ghee. If you happen to microwave it, the ghee just oozes out and it tastes greasy as a bite. (I know lot of fuss, please contact my aai for getting all these ideas into my head :P) Add the roasted semolina/suji/rava in it and sauté.
- Add the warm water first into the mix. The semolina absorbs all the water, so make sure you stir continuously while adding to avoid chunks of semolina.
- Now add warm milk gradually and stir again. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Next add the sugar, mix well. You would notice that all the almost-dried up mixture turns moist as the sugar melts.
- Add the saffron-milk, cardamom, powdered nuts/whole nuts, nutmeg (optional)-set the gas on slow and mix.
- Add some milk or water and simmer for a minute or two.
- Sheera is all set to be launched into your appetite J
I have fond memories of Sheera..
When I got married to Rohan, this was one the first cooking adventures. Every Friday, I made something distinct (yeah, it anyway turned distinct because quite a few misfires happened on the way :P-but that’s normal isn’t it?) and we ate it together. Back then, we did not have a car or a sofa, but we still were happy. Happiness cannot be bought or sold. You just create it and own it. I feel amused browsing through social networking sites these days how our generation equates happiness with expensive rewards. There is nothing against PDA, it’s about the attitude. Every generation suffers through it’s own “karma”. Our generation is the victim of expensive Gadgets, perky holidays and branded desires.
My father was one of the most acclaimed geo-tech consultants in the world. But, he lived a very simple life. He taught me to value little things and people. He probably missed on giving me an expensive birthday gift, but he still gave me all the wonders of the world. He never chased a Mercedez-dream, he chased his ambitions and won them. At 71,when he passed away-as fallen as I was; his death was the most valued memory for me. No medical interventions, no reasons of pain. He died a man of legend, he earned through it. Happiness is from within. He was a happy man, a common man of achieved dreams and desires.
There’s more to each of us than glamour. The veiled heart that needs to be revealed and make this world a non-materialistic place to live. Don’t you think?
We need a toast of Sheera for sure J. Enjoy the simplicity of bites in the modest and humble settings, the celebration of togetherness.