Breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening snack, pooja food – on some weird levels, the sheera can be compared to a certain species of insects, not out of pervert motives, but simply as a paean to its adaptability. Of all the Indian desserts, maybe even kheer and Bollywood-publicised Maa ka gaajar ka halwa, the simple sheera is most likely to survive any unforeseen disasters. At least I hope so.
It’s adaptability lies in the simplicity and the fact that it is, among many Indian desserts, quite the congenial companion. Making sheera is literally a 15-minute job, where you fry the semolina in some ghee (clarified butter) on medium heat. Once it loses its raw smell, you just add in the milk and water, which let out a satisfying hiss and then the sugar and then you stir and stir till it is thicker than porridge. The sheera won’t hold it against you if you choose not to garnish it with cashews and almonds or if you skip the pieces of fruit.
One of my favourite sheera dishes is sheera-puri, eaten fresh with piping out puris straight of the stove. It’s a total calorie overkill and there’s no denying the enhanced flavours of forbidden delights, even if it means leaden legs on the treadmill.
South Indian breakfasts have a wonderful combination of Khara Bhath (also known as Upma or Uppittu) and Kesari Bhath (known as sheera). It’s the ultimate ‘sweet and spice, and all things nice’ kind of food.
The best place to satisfy cravings of sheera is Matunga/Kings Circle. Cafe Madras serves up a mouthwatering plate. If you’re looking for unique flavours, head to Ram Ashraya, where you can order a plate of sheera made with fruit pulp.