Monday, November 04, 2013

Caramelised Banana Halwa

When we talk about Banana Halwa, first thing comes to mind is the famous Taj Mahal Restaurant where we get the best Banana Halwa in Mangalore since decades. The taste and flavour of that halwa remains consistent. The reason for that, is perhaps the variety of bananas they use, the quality of ghee and homogenous mixing of ingredients while making the halwa.

Making halwa is an art and the entire process takes little over an hour. Mixing the ingredients over the slow fire itself takes about 40 minutes. Not many venture into this attempt and they buy the halwa from Taj Mahal or some other sweets outlet!

I have seen my mother making banana halwa with utmost patience, She used to keep churning and mixing as the halwa sizzled in the cast iron kadai. The heat used to be enormous and I as a small boy, used to sit by mother's side and watch the process as drops of sweat trickled down my forehead and ears! We have tried making banana halwa only twice over the last 25 years. We laboriously did the job of making it in aluminum kadai and succeeded, but the effort seemed worthless when we saw the output very poor!

I had purchased four Nendra Bananas last week and we made fritters with two of them. I wanted to make Banana Halwa with the remaining two. This time, an idea flashed to my mind and I told Meena, let's add the left over caramel sauce resting in the fridge that we made for Caramalised Bananas recently to the halwa and try making it faster in the non stick pan. I tried and succeeded in making this special Caramalised Banana Halwa within a total time of 45 mins. 15 mins for initial cleaning chopping and mashing the bananas and 30 mins for making the halwa. The halwa turned out delicious, soft and the slight biting flavour of caramel lingered on as we relished the sweet meat!

For banana halwa, you need the Kerala variety Nendrabale bananas but you can also make it with some other pulpy bananas like the Cavendish Robusta. We are used to Nendrabale Halwa and we get that in abundance here in Mangalore. Bananas should be over ripe for making the halwa. Otherwise the halwa tastes sour and doesn't come out sticky.

Be watchful and keep monitoring the Nendra bananas everyday as the skin turns blackish and slight greyish traces of fungus form on the bananas. Keep them covered with a dome net to keep the flies at bay. When the skin turns almost black with a few spots of yellowish red skin visible, that's the right time to make halwa. With two fairly big bananas, we got little over 250Gms of halwa. The purity, delicious taste and the flavour of the halwa is just unmatched by the store bought one!

Nendra Bananas - 4 big(around 800Gms)
Sugar - 8 Tsp(2 tsp per banana)
Ghee - 4 Tsp(1 tsp per banana)
Caramel Sauce - 20 Ml(Optional)
Cardamom powder - 1/4 Tsp
Water - 1/2 Cup

Wash and wipe the bananas to get rid of traces of fungus and other impurities.
Peel them and chop them into small chunks.
Lightly mash them by pounding or run the chunks in a mixie coarsely. I prefer them to be mashed manually to get the right consistency.
Heat a nonstick pan and add ghee.
Add the mashed banana and water.
Keep the flame on medium or low and keep mixing the contents till the bananas start cooking.
Keep stirring and take care not to burn the pulp.
The pulp should get cooked within 15 minutes and ghee starts leaving the sides.
Part of the pulp starts getting browned a bit. This is the time for adding sugar.
Add sugar and mix well. Add caramel sauce and stir.
Keep mixing on low heat till halwa starts to form and the mass turns dark red.
Now add the cardamom powder and mix well.
More ghee oozes out at this stage and when the halwa gets dark brown and sticky, switch off the flame and transfer the halwa to a greased plate.
Spread evenly with a spoon and allow to cool down at room temperature.
If the quantity is less and halwa hasn't spread into at least 1/2 inch layer, compress the mass into a square till you get the desired thickness as shown the the pics.
Check to see if the halwa has set properly and cut into desired shape and size.
Store in an air tight container at room temperature.
If properly made, this halwa can be kept for over 3 weeks without getting spoilt.

If you prefer to make this without caramel sauce, you may add slightly more sugar and ghee.

If the halwa gets harder, you can reheat it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds. You get soft and hot halwa!

Don't worry about excess ghee oozing out after you spread the halwa on the plate. The halwa consumes just the right amount of ghee and the excess that oozes out can be collected and recycled. This can be well relished with Ubbati/Holige(Pooran Poli).


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I am prathiba l rao from "The indian food court". I am so impressed by your Nendra banana halwa recipe so well explained in detail that i would like to try out the same and send you the feed back shortly. Thanx a ton!!!!

Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi said...

You're welcome Prathibha Rao.

Thanks for the kind words.

Shaly Pereira said...

My favorite halwa. I've never had the courage to try it until now. Raj you have explained the method so beautifully that I'm tempted to try it soon. Thank you for this.

Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi said...

I'm happy you liked it Shaly. All the best in your attempt.


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