Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Banana Sheera (Sooji ka halwa)


Banana sheera or simply sheera is a much loved Indian dessert found in various avatars across our land. Different states and regions imparts a unique subtlety to this dish which gives us umpteen recipe options to try out from.

I have grown up eating this dessert known as sheera, in Maharashtra. Some flavour it with bananas, some with just nuts and saffron and sometimes its flavour is just out of this world when it is served as Satynarayanacha prasad. The Satyanarayan pooja prasad, which is basically this sheera, requires a strict proportion to be followed for it to be qualified as a prasad. :)
Years later, when I moved to Bengaluru, I tried this dessert known in that part of the land as Rava Kesari. I never made Rava Kesari at home but always relished it in the numerous breakfast joints of Bengaluru. A bright orange coloured rawa pudding glistening in ghee and served along with the savoury upma (the combo is known as Khara Bhaat) became my son's favourite dish too!

Sheera or rawa kesari or call it sooji ka halwa - whatever be the name of the preparation - the basic ingredients remain the same: Rawa/Sooji, Sugar, Ghee, Milk, Cardamom and lots of Love :) Getting the ratios of these ingredients right is the key to the success of this dish.

This is how I prepare it at home :)

Roasted Regular Rawa: 1 cup (Do not use the chiroti rawa or the very fine kind of rawa)
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Bananas: Two, peeled and chopped roughly (optional). (The riper the bananas, the better they taste)
Ghee: 3/4 cup (in its usual semi-solid state)
Ghee-Fried or Roasted Nuts: Cashews, Raisins and sometimes a spoon or two of Almond powder (optional)
Warm Milk- 2 cups if one wants to make a soft sheera or 1.5 cups otherwise
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp
Saffron - a few stands soaked in 2 tbsp of warm milk (optional)

Melt the ghee in a kadhai and add the rawa to it. Fry it for a couple of minutes till the ghee coats all the grains. To this, add the sugar and mix it well. Allow the sugar to melt in the kadhai with good stirring in between. Now add the chopped bananas to the kadhai. Mash it with the back of the spoon and blend it well in the rawa-sugar-ghee mixture.

Once the aroma of this preparation wafts through your kitchen - this will take around 4 to 5 minutes with stirring on a medium flame- add the fried or roasted nuts to it. Then add the warm milk, stir it well and cover the kadhai with a lid. If you are adding saffron, then add it along with milk in this step. Mix it well again after a couple of minutes and allow the rawa to get cooked and fluffy. This will take another 3 to 4 minutes.

Just before switching off the flame, add the cardamom powder; mix it well and keep the kadhai covered for a couple of minutes to allow the aromas to seep in.

Voila, sheera is ready to be served! It is best eaten hot :)

Monday, April 13, 2020

Kairichi chatni (Raw mango chutney)

The season of India's favourite fruit has arrived, and one can spot abundant blossoms swaying merrily on mango trees these days. Tiny, raw mangoes hanging around in bunches waiting to ripen into succulent mangoes is a happy sight in my backyard as well. Amidst the gloomy lockdown, these blossoms re-instil the earnest hope in my heart that this too shall pass :)

Under the Mango Tree...

There is a proverbial saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".  Now that raw mangoes are galore in the markets - what are you waiting for? Lay your hands on those raw mangoes and make chutney - its delicious, tangy and healthy too!

Rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc. etc. it is the fruit to be savoured till the rain gods arrive. So here is a simple, quick-fix chutney recipe for your palate which is slightly sour (of course), slightly sweet and just

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 servings):
Raw mango: 1 medium size
Coconut (fresh or dessicated), grated or cut into small pieces: 5 tbsp
Coriander leaves, chopped: 3 to 4 tbsp
Green chillies: 2,  roughly chopped
Jeera powder: 1 tbsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Little water: to help grind

Just put the above ingredients in a chutney jar with very little water (around 2 tbsp) and grind it into a fine paste. Feel free to adjust the flavours as per your liking by adding more or less sugar or chillies or coconut :)

The fresh tanginess of the preparation is sure to perk up any meal ...bon appetit.