Chow Chow Bhath - Upma and Halwa

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Chow Chow Bhath is a name given to a dish, which is of Karnataka cuisine. Chow Chow Bhath is a two in one dish, sweet and spicy, namely, Kesari Bath (Halwa) and Khara Bhath (Upma), where the main ingredient preparing these two dishes is semolina. The word 'Kesari' refers to the spice saffron, which is used, resulting in its saffron-orange-yellow-colored tinge. The word 'Khara' refers to the spicy savory. The two dishes when combined are absolutely irresistible in terms of its unique flavor and the delectable combination. 

The two dishes, the Halwa and Upma, are so famous in India, but the combining name, Chow Chow Bhath, not many know about it. May be the name also sounds like a Chinese name :).

Ingredients for Kesari Bhath/Halwa:

1. Semolina/sooji/rava - 1/2 cup 
2. Sugar - 1/2 cup 
3. Safron colour - a pinch
4. Cashew nuts - handful (chopped or cut into half)
5. Safron - little (for garnishing)
6. Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp.
7. Clarified butter/Ghee - 1/2 cup
8. Water - 1 and 1/2 cup 

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Cooking Method:

1. Dry roast the sooji/semolina until it gets warm in the pan. It might take around 5 to 8 minutes. Take it out in a plate and keep aside.

2. In the same cooking pot or deep frying pan, add ghee or clarified butter keeping the flame very low. Once it becomes hot, add cashew nuts broken into pieces and fry till very light golden brown. Immediately add water and bring it to boil. At the same time just add a pinch of saffron colour and cardamom powder.

3. Once the water is getting boiled, slowly add sooji/semolina and keep stirring until the sooji is cooked well. Now add sugar and mix it until the halwa becomes thick and the ghee starts leaving to its sides (the halwa at this point will not stick to the pan as well as the spatula. The halwa is ready to relish with full flavour and fine texture when neatly garnished with safron strands.


1. If the semolina is too fine then along with sugar mix the semolina and then add to the water (since semolina gets cooked well because its fine, as well as it will not form lumps when mixed with sugar).

2. In place of the saffron colour, saffron strands too can be added by taking 1 tbsp of milk and addiing saffron strands and then adding along with the water while cooking.

Ingredients for Upma:

1. Semolina/sooji/rava - 1 cup
2. Vegetables  (peas, (carrots, french beans finally chopped)) - 1 cup 
3. Onions - 2 no.
4. Tomatoes - 2 no.
5. Green chillies - 5 no. 
6. Curry leaves - 2 tbsp.
7. Mustard seeds - 1 tbsp.
8. Bengal gram/channa dal - 1 tbsp.
9. Black gram/urad dal - 1 tbsp.
10. Chopped ginger - 1 tsp.
11. Coriander leaves - handful
12. Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp.
13. Salt to taste
14. Water - 2 and half cup

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Cooking Method:

1. Chop the tomatoes and onions finely. Split the green chilies if this is served for kids, otherwise if chopped difficult to distinguish between chopped chillies and peas. 

2. Dry roast the semolina/rava/sooji in a deep pan until it gets warm. Then take it out in a plate and keep it aside. Now in the same pan heat up oil and add mustard seeds. Once this splutters, add black gram and bengal gram, and allow this to change its colour to light brown. Now add curry leaves, followed by green chillies, chopped ginger, tomatoes and then onions and finally vegetables. Fry all these together well keeping the flame low to medium. Simultaneously on another stove top measure water and keep this to boil (can use microwave or kettle too for convenience). 

3. Once the ingredients are cooked well, add boiling water (the water should be really hot) and add salt, as well as coriander leaves (reserve little for garnishing). Allow the water to blend with all spices for about 5 minutes.

4. Now slowly drop semolina/sooji into this and cook until it becomes thick. The vegetable upma is ready to be served garnished with coriander leaves.


1. The Upma can also be prepared without the vegetables too. Still the upma will taste good.

2. One more way also can be cooked, by adding semolina/rava along with the vegetables and then adding boiling water. This also will work the same way provided the water should be really hot. The temperature of water and the ingredients which is getting cooked should match.

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Kesari Bhath and Khara Bhath

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