Sunday, July 26, 2015

Banana Sheera(Sapaat)

When I landed in a town called Chamarajanagar at 9:30am on January 9, 1979 for joining my new assignment in a Bank, I was taken to a small restaurant run by Udupi Brahmins named Hotel Anand, by two of my colleagues. There the owner's son was happy to see another Mangalorean and he asked me "What will you have for breakfast?" I asked him what's fresh and hot. He replied "Banana Kesari Bhaat and Idli Sambar". I ordered Banana Kesari Bhaat which we call sheera, ate it with little difficulty, as it was pretty dry and hard.

When I visited home after a few months, I asked my mother what's Banana Sheera. She said it is nothing but 'Sapaat', a sweet dish they make as prasadam for offering during Sathyanarayana Vrata. It is made with rava, Rasabaale banana, cow's ghee, cow's milk and sugar, as per mother's say. I had tasted sapaat before, but that was way too different than what I had tasted at Hotel Anand! When I asked mother about preparing that at home, she said, we can't prepare Sapaat at home, as it is meant to be prepared and offered as prasadam! I was disappointed and didn't force her further.
Many years later, after marrying and settling down, I told Meena one day that I will make banana sheera. She asked me if I know how to make it. Those days we didn't have internet, and getting recipes was very difficult. Yet, I said that's not a big issue, and I went ahead to make Banana Sheera using my own imagination. It turned out tasty but something was missing. 

Balepet Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan(USKB) had a lovely sweet dish called Dumrote made with Bombay rava and ash gourd. I was very fond of that, and I also tried my own way to prepare it. When I wondered about the unique aroma Dumrote had, my colleague Nagabhushana Hande had told me, that they add Pachcha Karpoora(edible camphor) to that. Dumrote came out very good, though not exactly what I had eaten at Balepet USKB. I did add pachcha karpoora, because as I relished dumrote,  a thought came to my mind that the Sapaat they make for  Sathyanarayana Vrata also has added edible camphor which gives it the unique flavour. 

If we add edible camphor to this, it's not necessary to add kesar or saffron. Without Kesar, this can not be kesar Bhaat but simply 'Sheera'! I did exactly that, adding edible camphor to banana sheera and made it perfectly like Sapaat. I am not religious, and I am not guilty about making it for breakfast simply because these delicacies are meant to be enjoyed in every day life, and without a certain ingredient, the dish may turn out to be something different. I don't think many restaurants add edible camphor to Banana Sheera/Kesari Bhaat but you can, if you are a connoisseur of good taste! 
Bombay Rava - 2 cups
Ghee - 100 Gms (Add more if you like)
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cups (Add more if you like)
Pachcha Karpoora (Edible Camphor) - A pinch
Hot Milk - 1 cup
Hot Water - 4 cups
Kadali/Yelakki Bananas (Substitute for Rasabaale Bananas) - 4 (around 150 Gms)
Cardamom Pods - 6
Cashew Nut Bits - 25 Gms
Raisins - 25 Gms

Peel  cardamom and crush the seeds.
Powder pachcha karpoora.
Peel and chop bananas into tiny bits.
Keep water and milk hot, almost at boiling point.
Heat ghee in a thick bottomed kadai and fry the cashew nut bits on low heat until light golden.
Drain and keep aside.
To the same ghee, add Bombay rava and fry on medium heat until a nice aroma emanates and the rava turns golden.
Add the chopped banana, pachcha karpoora powder, hot milk and mix.
Carefully add the hot water and keep mixing lightly until rava sizzles and swells up.
Keep the fire low and allow the rava to cook and absorb all the liquid.
When the mass becomes almost dry, add sugar and allow it to melt.
As sugar starts melting, switch off the flame, keep mixing gently and allow sheera to ooze out ghee.
Take the kadai off the flame and garnish with cardamom powder, fried cashew nut bits and raisins.
Serve hot.


Unknown said...

nice write up... and sapat looks too good.

Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi said...

Thank you Jayashree.


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