The following recipe is a dessert, and an Indian dessert at that. You may ask, why do I hype an Indian dessert? Simple: because it is delicious and easy to make. As I’ve discovered, it pays to explore and discover other cuisines and cultures. That’s the process of growth.
Halvah is a sweet, dense confection popular in India. It could be that it derived from Arabic cuisine and subsequently spread throughout the sub-continent. It can be made from many ingredients, such as tahini (sesame paste), nuts, beans, lentils and vegetables. Our version consist of bananas. You can make this one as sweet as you want, or less sweet, for that matter. And the sweetener can be plain sugar, cane sugar, honey, or even maple syrup. You are only limited by your imagination.
Now, for this recipe you may use clarified butter, also known as ghee. I’ve discovered that it comes out just as good using regular butter. But, if you’re a traditionalist, an easy way to make clarified butter is: melt 2 cups butter in a heavy pan over gentle heat and cook without stirring until the butter begins to foam. Skim off the foam and continue heating without browning, skimming frequently until the butter stops foaming. Let the butter cool until the sediment has sunk to the bottom of the pan. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or fine strainer into a container. Cover and store in the refrigerator until required.
6 large bananas, peeled
3 tablespoons butter or ghee (see recipe above)
1¼ cup water
¾ cup sugar or honey
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Cut the bananas into 1-inch pieces.
- Heat the butter (or ghee) in a pan over moderate heat and stir-fry the bananas for 4-5 minutes until soft. Remove from heat and smash the bananas with 3 tablespoons of the water. Return to the heat and cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring frequently,
- In a separate pan, dissolve the sugar (or honey) in the remaining water over low heat. Pour the syrup over the bananas and continue cooking, stirring frequently for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is quite thick. Stir in the cardamom.
- Spread the mixture into a buttered dish or plate. Allow to cool. Cut into small pieces and chill before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.