Someone recently commented that I must be a good cook because my dishes always taste great. I replied that I have had great recipes to follow; I don’t really possess any particular culinary genious. While I have a good cookbook selection at home (and from the library), I love scouring food blogs for inspiration because they usually come with personal anecdotes, tips, stories and comments from others who have tried the dish. It is quite an intereactive forum, where everyone learns from each other. I also know which foods I like, and which I don’t, which explains my fascination with certain ingredients (almonds, cranberries, red pepper, among others) and a complete lack of others in my cooking (celery, sometimes parsley, etc).
However, sometimes I try things beyond my comfort zone without knowing what it should taste like, nevermind whether I will like it. A lot of Indian cuisine falls into this category as I am always wondering how spicy the dish will be. I figured I would try my hand at banana halva, an Indian dessert, as I knew I loved Turkish/Middle Eastern halva. They couldn’t have been more different! But I knew that as I glanced over recipes for both dishes. I just didn’t know what the Indian banana halva was supposed to taste like, either.
Usha at Veg Inspirations described hers as banana fudge. I was intrigued. Rose at Avocado & Bravado described them as a rich, sweet, sticky dessert. It sounded lovely.
So I tackled banana halva, with a combination of their recipes. I waited until I thought the bananas and sugar were golden-brown and then some.
My result were chewy, slightly sweet banana balls. But they still kind of tasted like the sum of their parts: overripe sweet banana. I don’t think it tasted like fudge. At least the kind I am familar with.
I think I’ll use my overripe bananas for other causes next time. But it was an interesting detour through Indian sweets.. if I even made it there. I am not sure! Did I mess it up?
Indian Banana Halva
4 overripe bananas
1 tbsp vegetable oil, ghee, or butter (I used butter)
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom
2-3 tbsp chopped almonds, toasted
1. Peel and mash bananas in a large bowl.
2. Add oil, butter, or ghee to a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add bananas. Stir continuously for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to medium and stir for another 10 minutes (it took a bit longer for me until the bananas have turned to a deep toffee color). Add a little more oil, ghee, or butter, if necessary.
3. When the mixture begins to thicken and the edges start leaving the sides, add cardamom seed powder and mix well.
4. Turn down the heat to low and stir in sugar for about 30 seconds, or until dissolved.
5. Allow to heat for a few more minutes. To know if done, pour a drop on a plate allow to cool and roll between fingers if it is fine then the halva is done (while testing remember to lower the heat on the stove to low so that the rest of the mixture does not overcook ).
6. Remove from heat and pour into a plate/ tray. Cool thoroughly, roll into small marble sized or lime sized balls and garnish with a sliver of almond placed on top of each ball.
7. Can serve the halva with whipped cream and chopped nuts. Store in an air tight container and keep in a cool place. This sweet does not require refrigeration for about 3 to 4 days.