Friday, 31 July 2015

Banana Halwa (Indian Dessert)

Banana Halwa
In southern part of India different variety of plantins are cultivated. Smaller ones can be as small as 2-3 inches and largest one can be as big as 12 inches also. The color also varies from golden yellow to purple. It was amazing to see so many varieties of banana. The most common one is golsed yellow ripe banana of whoch medium size will vary between 5-6 inches.
Kerela is famous for the variety of bananas savories and desserts. Banana chips and Banana halwa are my favorite. My daughter-in-law who abhors eating ripe banana, loves it only in two forms “banana Cake and Banana Halwa”. Thus I end up getting delicious banana halwa made by her. In fact I learned how to make this great Kerela (Indian) dessert from her. Traditionally it is made in coconut oil but being a North Indian and raised on Mustard oil and Ghee taste I prefer making this halwa in Ghee. Even my daughter-in-law makes it in Ghee, thus the overpowering flavor of coconut oil is eliminated and the dark brown pieces of this dessert is finished before we say let us keep it in fridge for tomorrow.
Vegan banana halwa can be made by replacing Milk by Soy milk and Ghee by coconut oil/Olive oil.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 1.5 Kg Halwa (Approximately)

Nutritional Value (Approx.) of 1.5 kgHalwa 
Energy: 1500 Cal
Total fat: 16.3gm.
Carbs: 290gm.
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 11 mg.
Calcium: 100 mg.
Magnesium: 200mg
Phosphorous: 75mg.
Iron 15mg.
Dietary fibers: 35 gm.
Sugar: 150 gm.
Protein: 13 gm.
Potassium: 5 gm.
Apart from this it has vitamin A, Vitamin C and B but cooking does destroy some of the vitamin contents.
The calorific value and fat content can be reduced by using Olive oil instead of ghee.
Ingredients Required For Making Banana-Halwa:
  • 12 Medium Size Ripe bananas (2 kg approximately) Even over ripe will do.
  • 100 gm. Organic jaggery (cane/palm)/To taste
  • 50 gm. Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 10 Green Cardamoms
  • 100 ml. Milk (Full fat/skimmed)
  • 20-25 Cashews
  • 20-25 Almonds
Direction For Making Banana Halwa:
  • Cut 10 almonds 10 cashews finely and keep aside for later use.
  • Soak 10-15 almonds and peel them once soaked nicely. Slit them to two equal halves. Keep aside for later use.
  • Slit the rest of the cashews to half. Keep aside for later use.
  • Peel and mash bananas to soft, uniform, gooey mass. The banana mash will weigh roughly 1.250Kg.
    Mashed Banans
  • In a big bowl take jaggery, Add 100 ml milk and whisk the mixture to dissolve the jaggery and get a thick liquid of jaggery and milk.
Jagger and Milk Mixture
  • Peel the cardamoms and crush the seeds to coarse powder.
  • In a thick bottom wok (I take anodized/non-stick) take 50 gm. Ghee and add the powder of green cardamom. Heat it on medium flame. Cardamom will heat along with the ghee thus most of the flavor of cardamom will come in ghee.
  • Add paste of ripe bananas. Cook on medium flame with constant stirring and scraping from the bottom and sides. After 20-25 minutes the paste will become semi-solid and will leave the bottom and edges of wok.
Banana Mash in Ghee and Cardamom
Just before Jaggery is to be added
  • Add jaggery mixture and mix nicely. Cook on medium flame, with constant stirring, till the mixture becomes dark and leaves the edges of wok. It will take approximately 10-15 min.
Jaggery added to cooked Banana Paste
Just before nuts to be added
  • Add finely cut cashew and almonds to the banana and jaggery mixture and mix.
Nuts added to Halwa
  • Mix nicel and cook for five minutes to bring it to corret consisitency.
Banana halwa ready for shaping.
  • Cool till they come to room temperature before storing them in airtight container.
Banana Halwa
  • This halwa can be stored up to one month also in fridge. In my house it finishes before I say let us store itJ.
  • Halwa before cooling and making balls can be put on a plate and flattened on the plate with spatula. Cover with a cling film and allow it to cool. Then this flattened, cooled halwa can be cut to required shape and size after cooling.
  • Always taste bananas for sweetness and adjust the amount of jaggery accordingly.
  • Taste the halwa before it comes to final stage and if required add jaggery at this stage and cook. Once the halwa is ready more jaggery/sugar cannot be added.
  • If you have over ripe bananas then the best way to use them is to make halwa.
  • Over ripe bananas will require 70-75 gm of jaggery only.
Suggested Variations:
  • Olive oil is a good replacement to coconut oil or ghee. The halwa becomes more nutritive and less fatty.
  • 1/2Teaspoon of cinnamon powder can be added to oil along with the cardamom powder, it lifts the banana halwa to just another level.
  • Jaggery can be replaced with organic brown sugar, but I always prefer palm sugar as it is very nutritive and  imparts lovely color and flavor to the halwa.
  • Vegan Banana halwa can be made using water/soy milk instead of milk and ghee can be replaced by Olive oil.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Turai-Mooli-Shimla Mirch Ki Sabzi (Indian Savory)

Smokey Green Mixed Vegetable
This mixed vegetable is slightly different and comes straight from the memory lane of my granny’s cooking.
In rainy season when the kitchen garden used to yield succulent radish, soft and long ridged gourd and lush green capsicum my granny would go early in the morning to pluck each of the item and get some potatoes from store(We Kumaoni add potato to almost every vegetable) and make a mixed vegetable from these ingredients. Wood fired stove (Chulha) used to add the smokiness which used to bring the dish to just another height. It was so normal for us and even now for many villagers cooking on Chulha to get the smoky flavor in the savories or desserts, but when I see the cookery program and see the gung-ho about getting the smoky flavor in the dishes I feel it so ironical. I tried to recreate the same flavor using the coarse smoking technique by using a burning wood piece, to my surprise I came quite close to the original flavor. This savory can be paired with any type of Indian bread, steamed rice and dal, toasted bread. I love to make it little liquidy by adding curd and pair it with Indian bread (Roti) made of Finger millet(Red millet) and dollop of butter.
Except potatoes rest all vegetables are lean vegetables, full of dietary fibers, water content and other nutrients. Since none of the above vegetables have high calorific contents and all of them have medicinal value also thus it makes this savory very healthy. Radish, ridged gourd is used in raw form (juice) for curing jaundice, ridged gourd have curative effect in piles/constipation. The list is quite long thus I would say that for healthy eating this savory is very good for all and especially for those having heart condition/stomach ailments/jaundice/diabetes.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20minutes
Servings: 6 Large Servings (400 gm approx.)

Nutritional Value: (Approximate)
Energy: 121 k Cal
Carbohydrates: 54gm
Calcium: 43 mg
Fats: 0.1 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Iron: 0.34mg
Potassium: 233 mg
Protein: 10gm
Zinc: 0.28mg
Phosphorous: 40 mg
Fibers: 4gm
Sugars: 1.8 gm
Most of the carbs come from potatoes and radish, gourd bring most of the vegetable water.

Ingredients For Making Smokey Mixed Green Vegtable:
  • 500 gm Ridged Gourd
  • 100 gm Radish (white)
  • 100 gm Capsicum
  • 100 gm Potatoe
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2Teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 1-2 Green/Red Chilies
  • 2 ml Mustard oil
  • 1/2Tea spoon Turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon Amchur powder (Dry raw mango powder)
  • 1/2Teaspoon Red Chili Powder (Optional)
  • Salt to taste
Direction For Making Smokey Green Mixed Vegetable:
  • Lightly peel ridged gourd and cut them to small pieces.
  • Scrape the radish for the fibrous roots and dirt. Cut them to small pieces.
  • Remove the seeds of capsicum and cut them to small pieces.
  • Peel and cut potatoes to small pieces.
  • Slit the green/Red chilies and de-seed them.
  • In a wok take 2 ml mustard oil and heat it. Lower the heat and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once the seeds have spluttered add slit green/red chilies.
  • Immediately add potatoes stir and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes with once or twice stirring in between.
  • Add Radish and mix nicely and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes with once or twice stirring in between.
  • Add Ridged gourd and mix.
  • Add
    • Salt
    • Turmeric powder
    • Chili powder
  • Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes with occasional stirring.
  • Add capsicum and mix. Sprinkle 5-10 ml. water and cover. Cook with occasional stirring till potatoes become soft but not mushy. The capsicum should be cooked but crunchy.
  • Add Amchur powder (dry raw mango powder) and mix nicely.
Cooked Vegetable Ready Smoke 
  • Take out in a serving bowl, place a burning wooden stick emitting smoke(Without flame)  on the cooked vegetable and cover. Let the smoke seep in the vegetable for 5 min. Remove the wooden stick and garnish with fresh coriander leafs.
  • Serve with roti, Dal-Chawal, Bread.
Green Mixed Vegetable
  • While cooking the vegetable if you feel at any stage that vegetables are sticking to the bottom of wok, sprinkle little water, mix and cover then cook.
  • Cooking should be done on low heat only.
  • The vegetables should be cooked yet crunchy, mushy and overcooked vegetables spoil the overall texture of vegetable.
  • Indian savories have turmeric as quitessential spice, this not only gives a nice yellow color but adds medicinal value also as turmeric has antioxidants and anticarcinogenic property.

Suggested Variations:
  • Mustard oil can be replaced withany other cooking oil of choice.
  • Amount of potatoes can be reduced or altogether omitted.
  • Once the vegetable is cooked instead of amchur powder, mixture of 200 gm thick curd (Yoghurt) +2 teaspoon whole wheat flour, can be added and given just one boil. This will add the much loved sourness alongwith creaminess to the vegetable and it will have little gravy in it.


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