Pineapple Sheera

Pineapple Sheera photography © ShulieMadnick
Barik (small) rawa/rava (semolina) is a super-fine semolina grain. As opposed to the more familiar coarser semolina grain used in making couscous from scratch (not the instant couscous).  Semolina (rawa/rava) is also called suji (sooji). Barik rawa/rava is used in making a sweetened breakfast dish called sheera. The dish is also simply called rawa/rava, which is how we call it. Traditionally it is flavored with cardamom and saffron mixed in with cashews and raisins and doused with ghee (clarified butter).
Growing up, my mom made the dish for breakfast on the run. She mixed with the rawa half milk and half water and used margarine or oil instead of ghee. Only rarely did I see her ceremoniously skim milk solids from butter to make ghee to the sounds of Bollywood music in the background. My mom's rawa/rava (sheera) version was basic, and I didn't care for it much. I also hated milk when I was young, and still today I can't drink it straight up or have it in cereal. Only in Mumbai, where the sheera/rawa was served at the breakfast buffet in our hotel, did I fall for it hard. Way back when the finer grain semolina and ghee were impossible to come by in Israel. Both ingredients elevate this breakfast staple to a more refined meal.

The inspiration for a pineapple sheera came from Ram Ashraya, the famed South Indian restaurant situated away from the tourist drags, in Matunga, Mumbai. Locals flock this modest restaurant,by the busy train tracks, for a southern Indian breakfast of idli, dosa and sheera, before heading to work as early as 5 am. Before 10 am, the restaurant serves a traditional saffron sheera, but later more creative daily and seasonal versions like pineapple, chocolate, banana, and caramel. Diners at times wait for an hour in line in hopes that Ram Ashraya won't run out of this delicious and comforting breakfast staple. 

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Thanks, @annaparabrahma and, @panfusine for the profound Indian food discussions. The finer grain semolina (barik rawa/rava) can be found at the Indian grocer or online. Those who are allergic leave the cashews out. 

Pineapple Sheera


1 cup semolina
20 cashews, split
10 raisins
2 - 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
2 1/2 cups water (plus 1/2 cup water*)
A pinch of saffron
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 - 1/3 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup canned pineapple, chopped into small pieces


Melt one tablespoon ghee in a skillet on a low/medium heat. Add the cashews and roast until golden. Scoop out with a large slotted spoon into a small bowl. Add the raisins to the skillet and roast for a couple of minutes. Scoop out to the cashew bowl. Add the semolina and roast on medium heat, while occasionally mixing, until golden. Scoop to a separate bowl.

In a medium deep pot, add 2 1/2 cups water and saffron and bring to barely a boil. Take off the heat and add the sugar, Stir to melt the sugar. Stir in a tablespoon of ghee and add the chopped pineapple and cardamom. Put back on the heat on low/medium heat, stir and add the semolina in small batches while continually stirring. If the semolina bubbles and splatters reduce the heat. Add the cashews and raisins and mix. Stir for a couple of minutes longer and serve. 

* I like my sheera drier, but if you prefer it semi porridge-like wetter add an additional 1/2 cup of water. For the coarser grain sheera start with 3 cups water. 

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