Guava and Ginger Sheera (Pudding)

By Published On: 3 Jul '23Last Updated: 9 Apr '24

A simple South Indian dessert, Guava and Ginger Sheera is made with semolina, ghee, sugar, water and flavoured with fresh guava and ginger. The warming spice of ginger cuts through the richness of the sheera to create a beautifully balanced dish!

Guava and Ginger Sheera

Guava and Ginger Sheera is a dessert, in which I am expanding the flavour of the traditional dessert called 'sheera' by layering it with fresh guava and ginger, to add subtle complexity and depth to the overall dish.

Sheera occupies an important place among traditional Indian sweet dishes. It is one of India's most loved festive sweet dishes or desserts and is called by many names - 'Sooji halwa', 'suji halwa', 'sheera', 'sooji ka halwa' and rava sheera, just to name a few.

Though the modern day sheera can be prepared with tropical fruit such as banana, mango or pineapple, growing up in Udupi, sheera was prepared at its simplest, by my mum with just roasted semolina, sugar, water, home made ghee and ground cardamom.

In India, different versions of sheera are also found, which are distinguished by the region they are served. Toppings such as dried fruit and nuts are a popular modern addition to this traditional dessert.

Sheera is a pudding that is dense and tastes sweet, as sugar is the sweetener in almost all types of sheera. It can also taste very rich depending on the amount of ghee (clarified butter) used.

This dessert is enjoyed not only at home but also popularly served during weddings, some Hindu festivals such as Diwali and at Navratri offerings.

what is guava and ginger sheera?

It is a normal sheera or pudding but with a tropical slant to it. It is a great change from the more traditional Indian sooji halwa, suji halwa, sheera and rava sheera.

Guava paste or pureed guavas added during cooking give the traditional sheera a subtle tropical flavour. Ginger marmalade complements the guava without overpowering it and that's what makes this dessert a favourite in my home.

I love this sheera because it is such a great celebration of one of my most favourite childhood tropical fruit. I just love the unique flavour and taste of fresh guavas. Although, bursting with flavour, what I have come to discover is that, I have neither used fresh guava in my cooking nor tasted guava as an ingredient in food.

So, I was determined to use this tropical, aromatic and creamy fruit as an ingredient in the traditional sheera. The results were amazing. My family loves the slight taste of guavas, and the ginger marmalade adds a wonderfully mellow complexity to this sheera. The overall pudding is wonderful to enjoy as a dessert, tea time snack or a sweet treat during the guava season.

You can eat this pudding immediately after it is done or cut into shapes and eat it once it is set.

A must try if you love guavas and have a guava tree in your backyard!!

what is a Guava fruit?

A guava is a common tropical oval or round fruit that grows in many tropical or sub-tropical regions. It has a sweet-sour edible white, yellow, green, red or purple skin, with yellow skin guavas being the sweetest of all varieties. It comes from a tree in the Myrtle family.

Depending on the variety, the interior flesh can also range from white, to pink to purple to red. The most popular guavas found in NSW supermarkets are round in shape, have green skin with white flesh, weighing anything between 250g to a whopping 400g each.

Guavas are originally from Central America and southern Mexico. Guava trees have since spread around the world's tropical and temperate zones. Although guava trees are cultivated in Hawaii, Florida and some areas of California, now India is the number one producer of guava fruit.

When I was growing up we had one guava tree in our front compound. It had yellow guavas with white flesh inside, similar to the image below. It was a great thrill for me to wake up every morning and go to the guava tree looking out for ripe guavas. I was a tree monkey and aced at climbing trees, so I was the first one to pluck the best guavas when they are at their best. The monkeys got only the leftovers!!

Guava flesh has a smooth and creamy texture (aside from their many seeds) and a flavour that is softly sweet-sour.

Guavas can be eaten straight from the tree (if you have a tree at home), or in Sydney, purchased from March to June from large supermarkets or fresh markets. Better still, if you have some friends growing guavas in their backyards, place an order in December as the fruit is in season from March to June.

They can also be made into jelly, pastes, juices, ice creams, sauces and jams.

Did you know that guava was once a forbidden fruit in Philippian mythology?

Nutritionally, guava along with its leaves, is a super fruit because it contains an extensive source of vitamin C and iron compared to citrus fruit. It is very interesting to note that, the rind alone has five times the vitamin C of an orange. Also note that guava has less sugar than found in apples, grapes and other fruit.

So, how do you know when a guava is ripe to eat? When guavas are ripe, they have a sweet fragrance that almost fills your nose when you smell them. The texture of the skin becomes softer as they ripen. The best guavas are fairly firm and give slightly to gentle pressure. They ripen at room temperature and their flesh will be soft and creamy.

Ripe fruit stay fresh at room temperature for up to one week and for up to two weeks when refrigerated. If they are in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before eating, as they can be hard on the gums when cold.

Thanks to Rekha, my neighbour and friend who shared her bounty of tasty, organic guavas with me. The house of Deliciously Indian was filled with guava scent and it was nostalgic. As you can see from the image, these guavas are creamy and taste sweet-sour. I baked a guava cake, some guava muffins, Mangalorean guava mandas (a cake made with ground rice and guava flesh) and with the remaining made some guava sheera (a type of pudding).

This is a sheera with a new taste and my own innovation. My mother made sheera with semolina, sugar, water and some kind of flavouring. I have taken my mother's sheera to another level by adding home grown guava flesh to add another dimension. Sheera can also be made with many tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple.

While my guavas were on a strict ration due to my guava culinary adventures, I got a good top up from Shamila. Thank you Shamila for sharing those delicious backyard guavas with me.

The second round of sheera trial was made with your guavas and it tasted so delicious!

ingredients for the sheera

Ghee (clarified butter) - A key ingredient that adds a rich flavour. Although butter is the most natural ghee substitute, adding butter will not give the same taste. Do not skip this ingredient, as this is the magic ingredient that makes sheera a delicacy. Find at: All large supermarkets or your local Indian grocery store.

Guavas - An innovative ingredient to the traditional recipe. It's flesh adds a subtle, beautiful tropical flavour akin to a banana, mango or pineapple. Use guavas that are ripe, but not overripe. If you are using home grown guavas, scan for worms before using them, as worms love raw guavas. I have test trialled with white flesh guavas (yellow and green skin) both from home gardens and shop bought guavas. Both types of guavas work well, however, the flesh of yellow guavas yields a slightly stronger flavoured dessert compared to the shop bought green skin white flesh guavas. I am still waiting to get my hands on some pink flesh guavas. Find at: You will find green skin white fleshed guavas (as shown in the image above) in some large vegetable markets from March to May/June. Try 'Panettas' at Macquarie Centre (cost $15.00/kg) or Eastwood Fresh vegetable market. You may be able to buy in some large supermarkets although, I have not seen them in my local supermarkets.

Ginger marmalade - Again, an innovative ingredient, added for a subtle savoury twist and flavour. Do not overdo on ginger as we do not want to overpower the flavour of guava with ginger. Guavas and ginger have to complement each other. I have used Buderim original ginger marmalade (Australian grown) comes in 365g jars. You may also use ginger in syrup if you cannot find ginger marmalade. Find at: Large supermarkets or Online. You may substitute with 1-2 tsp. fresh ginger.

Semolina - denotes the coarse particles left after wheat has been milled to flour and then sifted. This is the main ingredient in the making of this pudding/sheera. It used to come in two grades - coarse and fine. The coarse semolina now available in the supermarkets and Indian grocers is not as coarse as it should be for this recipe. However, this semolina works. The semolina graded 'fine' also works but if you can find the 'coarse' variety, it is better. Find at: All large supermarkets next to the pasta or Indian grocers. Some large green grocers also sell them. Look for the 'coarse' variety such as 'Maharajah's Choice' (comes in 1kg plastic bag). If you are allergic to gluten, you must refrain from using this semolina, as this semolina is not gluten free.

Sugar - this sheera is meant to be sweet. Add what is asked for in the recipe, depending on your taste. If you like it mildly sweet then, add only 100g. My family likes it a bit sweeter so I add 120g sugar. You would not want it any sweeter than what is recommended in the recipe. Substitute: with a sweetener of your choice, as per taste.

Yellow food colouring - to give the sheera that signature pale yellow colour, as semolina is colourless. I also find it more appealing to eat food which has a colour to it and that includes 'sheera'. If you are happy with the natural colour, do not add any. Find at: All large supermarkets next to their cake shelf.

Flaked almonds - Almonds add a little bite and texture. Substitute: 1 tablespoon of chopped toasted cashews. Omit if you are allergic to nuts.

Ginger powder - In the absence of any other flavouring, adds subtle flavour to enhance to flavour of ginger marmalade. I would not substitute with green cardamom powder, as it will overpower the guava flavour. Add what is recommended in the recipe as too much will render the pudding to be bitter. Find at: All large supermarkets - Masterfoods ground ginger sold in 25g jars. Use your favourite brand, if you have one. If you have ground ginger in your pantry, check for the due date before using, as old ground ginger will not be as potent. Substitute: 1 tbsp. fresh ginger (10g), finely grated.

Semolina/Sooji/Suji/Rava - a wheat product, makes a regular appearance in many Indian snacks, from dosas to Instant Millet Dosa, Rava Idli, Semolina or Sooji Upma, Dhokla (lentil cake) Chaat or used as coating when frying fish or vegetables, as in Fish Rava Fry.

Semolina is not suitable for people with gluten intolerance.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

If you are ready to elevate your mum's thumbprint 'sheera' or 'sooji halwa' recipe, then take this rendition for a spin.

Instead of preparing the normal sheera, you use guava puree and ginger marmalade to create a sheera with a tropical taste. The zing of ginger balances the sweet and the richness of this pudding, making it a delightful breakfast, snack or a dessert.

The taste and the texture of this sheera is unique, and it immediately melts in your mouth.

Next guava season try out this 'Guava and Ginger Sheera' and watch it fly off the platter like hot cakes!

important to remember

  • Gather your equipment before you start cooking
  • Gather all your ingredients and have them ready on the counter next to your stove
  • Read the recipe quickly, once again, just before you switch on your stove
  • Arrange your ingredients in the order they need to be added, as the ingredients are added in quick succession, particularly after you have added the semolina to the hot water
  • After adding the semolina to the hot water, whisk/stir briskly, so the semolina does not form lumps
  • Reduce the heat to the lowest setting after adding semolina, so the semolina does not scorch during cooking

TIPS AND TRICKS

Important: Read the recipe thoroughly, before you apply the layering techniques.

Guavas have the most delicious tropical fragrance when ripe, however, it is not always easy to infuse guava flavour into the food you are cooking. Their flesh is very delicate and will fall apart if overcooked. They seem to infuse flavour when lightly cooked and added to puddings, desserts and ice creams.

After many many trials and research, I am grateful to Afra who so kindly shared her idea of layering flavours with me. Thank you Afra! God bless!

So, what is layering in cooking?

Layering is the process of incorporating complementary flavour profiles to a dish to enhance its depth and complexity.

For my Guava and Ginger Sheera recipe, I tried several methods to infuse the delicate flavour of guavas into the sheera and the following methods seems to work. The flavours are however subtle and they should be. We would not want either the guava or the ginger to overpower each other. We want a well balanced sweet savoury dish!

  • Layering technique 1 - In this recipe, I have added one layer of complementary flavours (pureed guavas and ginger marmalade) in Step 4. In this step, I am infusing the simmering water with pureed guava and ginger marmalade. This will add one layer of flavour to the dish. The flavour will be subtle because the puree will be diluted when combined with the water. So, I have introduced the second layer also in Step 5.

In Step 5, I am also adding the second complementary layer - one teaspoon of ginger powder. The ginger powder will add a little complexity and depth to the finished dish. Ensure the ginger powder is fresh or else it won't work!

  • Layering technique 2 (mentioned as a variation in the recipe card) - Here I am incorporating grated guavas about 4-5 tablespoons (about 100g) as the first complementary layer in Step 4. In this step, I am infusing the simmering water with grated guavas instead of pureed guava and ginger marmalade. The water should be on the lowest heat and the grated guavas should be cooked for a couple of minutes only.

Then, in Step 5, I am also adding the second complementary layer - guava and ginger marmalade puree and 1 level tablespoon (about 10g) of microscopically fine chopped fresh ginger in place of ginger powder. The fresh ginger really does the trick and adds that lovely warming spice flavour to the dish to balance the guava flavour. Important: Too much ginger will overpower the final dish. Be cautious!

Note: I have trialled with both techniques and I was convinced that the second technique works better for me. The flavour of guava and fresh ginger is a little more pronounced in the second technique. You can also taste the guava and ginger flavours but in a very delicate way.

Also, note that the flavour of guava and ginger matures slightly on the second day, magically!!

IMPORTANT: I have mentioned the second layering technique in my recipe as a variation only.

Come along as I walk you through my Step-by-Step, with detailed photos and instructions, and I dearly hope that you will enjoy making this pudding and would love to hear how you went.

If you can, please give this a star rating and leave a comment, as it will help me so much in my culinary world!

Thank you deeply for the gift of your comment and a star rating!

Brush the base of a medium platter with a little melted ghee and set aside.

You may also use small rectangular loaf tins (26cm x 8cm) if you have them handy.

I have to keep a little cup in the centre, as my camera does not focus without an object in the centre!!

Check for worms, wash the guavas and halve them. Do not peel. Chop them roughly. You may use white fleshed guavas with yellow skin or white fleshed guavas with green skin

Yellow skin guavas

Green skin guavas

Add to a blender or similar appliance. Add ½ cup water and the ginger marmalade

Here I have used white fleshed guavas with green skin

Blend to a puree and set aside

Add ghee to a medium non-stick frying pan and place on low heat. When the oil is shimmering, add semolina. Roast for 4 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid scorching or burning

To make it easier, you can roast the semolina on the earlier day. Cool it and place in an airtight container and add it when called for in the recipe

Remove pan from heat and continue stirring for another 1 minute

Ensure the semolina does not brown

Remove to a bowl immediately as we do not want the semolina to brown

Combine water and salt in a medium non-stick saucepan with a lid. Place on medium heat and bring to a rolling boil

Lower the heat to a minimum and incorporate the guava and ginger puree to start the infusion

Whisk well until free of lumps. If you see small bits of guava, don't panic as they will cook when the mixture is simmering

Simmer for 3 minutes on low heat

Increase heat to medium, add roasted semolina is a steady stream with one hand and with the other hand whisk quickly to combine the semolina as it is dropping, ensuring it does not form lumps.

Add only a little at a time to make it easier

Reduce heat on low, incorporate all semolina, stirring or whisking continuously to avoid forming lumps

With the heat still on low, pop the lid on and cook for 2 minutes

Add the reserved ghee, sugar and yellow food colouring. Stir to combine.

Oops! this time I was a bit heavy handed with the colouring - apologies!! Must buy a dropper soon!!

The semolina will form a mass and begin to come away from the sides of the saucepan