Food is an integral part of our life. I am sure that for many of us it is not just something that satiates our hunger, but also the feeling of nostalgia that comes along with it. Sometimes it just amazes me how the taste and smell of a certain food/dish instantly connects you to an old memory and everything just comes rushing back to you.
Banana sheera also popularly known as "prasadacha sheera" from the state of Maharashtra is one such dish that brings back fond memories of my childhood. As the name suggests, this special and sweet delicacy is made as a holy offering to God during Satyanarayan puja and on various other auspicious occasions. And that is how I ate this sweet delicacy for the very first time as a child at a temple situated near our building in Mumbai, Maharashtra. I don't remember what age I was exactly at that time, but I vividly remember me, my sister and my friends going to the temple every Thursday for special prayers. For me it was like part of my childhood routine. School in the afternoon, playing in the evening and then going to the temple with friends every Thursdays for prayers. The people at the temple used to make different kinds of prasad on Thursdays and one of it was prasadacha sheera. And it was one of the things that I used to eagerly look forward to after the prayers :P.
The original dish of prasadacha sheera is very simple and has very few ingredients yet is very very rich and delicious. This melt in your mouth dish is made with semolina, clarified butter/ghee, bananas, milk and sugar. The secret for its yumminess lies in the fact that you add equal amount of semolina, sugar and clarified butter/ghee. Hmmmmmmmm......sighhhhhh.
However unlike my childhood days, I now avert from anything that is too sweet. I guess for most of the people this will be the perfect amount of sweetness but for me its a bit too much and same goes for my husband. It goes without saying that nothing compares to the deliciousness of the original recipe.
Having said that I still crave for this sweet delicacy every now and then. And yesterday I decided to give in to my cravings and that is when I remembered my mother in law telling me about how we can make sheera using jaggery. My mother in law visited us few months back and I remember how we were discussing about making sheera using jaggery but never ended up making it.
So I decided to make it a little healthier by substituting sugar with jaggery and reducing the amount of clarified butter/ghee. So my version is a little less sweet, a little less rich and dairy free. :P.
I know.... I knoww.......its not the original version... I wanted to eat a good bowlful of it without feeling guilty so thought why not give this healthy twist a try. Since I ran out of milk I used water instead. And it turned out to be yummmyyyy. Do try this dish when you want to opt for a healthier option. :P :P
Serves 3 - 4
1 cup of semolina/rava (fine quality)
3/4 cup of jaggery/gur (shaved or grated)
2 -3 tbsp of clarified butter/ghee
1 large banana or 2 medium sized bananas (I used two small- medium sized bananas)
2 cups of water
1 tsp of cardamom powder/elaichi powder
Few raisins and halved cashew nuts as per your liking
1) Heat a non stick tawa or pan. Add the clarified butter/ghee. Once the ghee is hot roast the cashew nuts and raisins. Roast till the cashews turn brown and the raisins are plump. Remove them and keep them aside.
2) Roughly chop or mash the bananas and keep them aside.
3) In the same ghee add the semolina/rava and roast it on a slow flame for around 10 minutes till it gives out a nice aroma and turns light brown. This way the rava will be evenly cooked. Do not roast the rava on a medium or high flame else it will burn quickly and will remain raw. I have roasted the rava till it was light brown but you can roast it further till it turns a little deep brown color.
4) Meanwhile heat two cups of water in a saucepan. Once hot add the jaggery and let it melt on a low to medium flame.
5) Once the semolina/rava is nicely roasted and turns light brown in color add the mashed bananas and cardamom/elaichi powder and mix everything nicely.
6) Finally add the water with diluted jaggery through a seive (to remove any impurities from the jaggery) and the cashews and raisins. Mix thoroughly so that there are no lumps.
7) Mix and cook until the semolina absorbs all the water and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Delicious banana sheera is ready. Serve warm. :)