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Chai Kesari

The customary Friday visit to the temple for a Singaporean Hindu child was marked by the hot meal that was served after prayers. All the temple visitors would sit in rows to be served rice, idli, vadai and vegetarian curries that had been blessed by the temple deities. For me the highlight was always what came after - the dessert.

Bright orange from food dye, the ghee-laden Kesari was by far my favourite, with the satisfying crunch of cashews against the sweet, soft semolina cake and the fruity bursts of raisins.

Luckily, Kesari is one of the easiest Indian sweets to prepare and it comes together in one pot.

The addition of Chai is of course, non-traditional, but that is how we roll. The spice in our Chai Kesari is a gentle hum at the back the throat, which cuts through the rich sweetness elegantly. Your sweet tooth will thank me.


Chai Kesari 

3 tbsp ghee
1 cup fine semolina
2 cups Chai made with The Chai Villain’s Sticky Chai Blend
3/4 cup sugar
Slivered almonds, pistachios and raisins


    1. In a large saucepan, add 1 tbsp of ghee. Once melted, drop in the nuts and and raisins and fry over low heat. Once golden brown, remove from the pan and drain on a kitchen towel. Once drained, strew half the nuts and raisins onto the bottom of a large square tin or individual moulds.
    2. Add another tbsp of ghee and the semolina into the pan. Stir regularly over a medium flame. Toasting the semolina will take 5 mins and you will know when it’s done when the semolina turns pale golden (not brown!) and fragrant like buttered popcorn.
    3. Add the sugar and stir until all the sugar is melted and the mixture resembles wet sand.
    4. Gradually stream in the Chai and mix until the liquid is absorbed. It will spit and splutter so go slow.
    5. Add 1 tbsp ghee and stir for 2 mins until the kesari just starts to come together into a mass.
    6. Immediately tip the kesari into the mould/ tin and flatten out the surface.
    7. Let it cool completely to room temperature, slice and serve with the rest of the toasted nuts.