Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Going Nuts about Bananas!

Halwa di Banana, Cocco & Pistacchio, senza Zucchero & Grasso
Sugar & Fat-Free Banana, Coconut & Pistachio Halwa

Yes, it can (and does) happen to the best of us... although I will never be quite sure why! There simply are times when you find yourself with a number of rather overly-ripe bananas at home, although you can't ever really explain why. Just how did it come to be that so many of the things made their way into your home without you noticing it in the first place? It's one of those great mysteries- like, "where do all of those missing, single lost socks disappear to?" when you fetch your laundry out of the machine...

But mysterious or not... I found myself with 3 ripe bananas this evening that I was loathe to throw away... and at the same time, they were definitely too sweet and soft for eating as they were. So cooking with them was the only option... and cooking something like this was definitely a very wise decision!

To make this, I simply mashed the bananas with a fork and began frying them in a dry non-stick pan... no need for butter here. The bananas do not stick, but they do soften rather quickly, which is fine- it makes it much easier to add the other ingredients. First of all I added half a teaspoon of cardamom, just a little grated nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I stirred these in well and then added just a splash of milk- just enough to make the mixture a little smoother and more fluid. 

I then added the coconut flakes- enough to soak up any excess moisture and to make the mixture a little firmer and more compact- and all of the time I kept stirring, stirring and stirring! Next, I added 1 tablespoon of cornmeal or polenta for each banana included and stirred that in well. I then added a tablespoon of ground pistachio and stirred this in too, making sure to fold the banana dough over and over so that it all became nice and brown. 

And basically that was all there was too it! After 25-30 of continuous stirring, the cornmeal was nicely cooked and had done its job of binding any excess moisture in the meantime. I turned the dough out onto my work surface, onto a sheet of Ceran wrap, which I then folded up and over the dough. I then placed a cutting board on top of this firm, moist dough and simply pressed it down and into shape- to the thickness of 1"-2" or so. I removed the cellophane wrap and decorated the finished halwa with a nice sprinkle of extra pistachio and coconut and allowed it to cool for an hour or so, until it was nice and firm to cut into shape. 

After cooking for so long, the banana miraculously looses a lot of its cloyingly sweet flavor and renders down, together with the polenta and the added spices, into a wonderful, mildly sweet treat. I loved the way this turned out- no added butter, sugar, cream or any other kind of naughtiness really works well for me- and maybe it will for you too! I sure hope you give it a try!

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