Banana Halava


waiter there’s a little blue man sitting on my spoon!

Zoe from somewhere in Australia writes:

“I am looking for a recipe for banana halva that I used to make years ago. It had 6 bananas and rosewater in it plus (???) Can you help me? Can’t find the actual recipe on your site.”

Hello Zoe, thanks for your request.

I am not sure which variety of banana halva/halava you are asking about. Halva is a very general term (read my essay on halva…)

I actually don’t have a published banana halava recipe, but I do have other halava recipes that can be adapted. I made some banana halava the other day in fact, after one of my blog-readers asked me the very same question. The recollection of banana halava grew in my mind (as it does) and not too long after that contemplation, I was actually cooking a batch.

This is a version of semolina halava with bananas inside. You can also make a dish of bananas, butter, and sugar which are cooked a long way down to a very thick pudding-like consistency. Perhaps this what you are referring to. I don’t have a recipe for that.

Anyway, here is a recipe that I have formulated especially for you, and I have even added the optional rosewater. Once you know the basic formula for semolina halava, it is easy to vary the flavourings. Happy cooking! Kurma.

The science of halava making:

cooking halava at a class in Murwillumbah

Walnut, Banana and Rosewater Semolina Halava Pudding

Semolina halava is the most popular dessert served at any of the Hare Krishna restaurants worldwide. This version of the famous hot, fluffy pudding with juicy raisins, raw sugar, and walnut pieces rates high in the “halava-top-ten”. I have cooked halava for 4 or 5 persons and for 1500 persons; either way, following the same basic steps yields equally stunning results.

The secret of good halava is to roast the semolina very slowly for at least 20 minutes, with enough butter so as not to scorch the grains. Steam the finished halava over very low heat with a tight-fitting lid for 5 minutes to fully plump the semolina grains; then allow it to sit covered for another 5 minutes. Fluffy, plump grained halava is best served hot, on its own, or with a spoonful of cream or custard. Serves 6 – 8 persons, or a couple of halava addicts.

2½ cups water
1¼ cups raw sugar
140 g unsalted butter, or ghee (1 ounce = 28.35 grams)
1¼ cups coarse-grained semolina (farina) – the more coarse the better
1/3 cup walnut pieces, or any nuts, or none at all
a splash of pure rosewater
1 or 2 large, firm but ripe bananas, sliced fairly thinly

Combine the water and sugar in a 2-litre saucepan. Place over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Melt the butter or ghee in a 2- or 3-litre non-stick saucepan and over fairly low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the semolina. Slowly and rhythmically stir-fry the grains until they darken to a tan colour and become aromatic (about 20 minutes). Add the walnut pieces about halfway through the roasting. Stirring more carefully, raise the heat under the grains.

Raise the heat under the sugar water and bring the syrup to a rolling boil.

Remove the saucepan of semolina and butter from the heat, slowly pouring the hot syrup into the semolina, stirring steadily. The grains may at first splutter, but will quickly cease as the liquid is absorbed.

Return the pan to the stove and stir steadily over low heat until the grains fully absorb the liquid, start to form into a pudding-like consistency, and pull away from the sides of the pan. Place a tight-fitting lid on the saucepan and cook over the lowest possible heat for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat, splash in the rosewater, fold in the banana, and allow the halava to firm up, covered and off the heat, for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot in dessert bowls as it is, or with the toppings suggested above.
Posted by Kurma on 24/9/07; 9:05:50 AM

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