one sweet dish that i have grown up having at most of the puja functions in mumbai is banana sheera. sheera is the marathi term for halwa. in hindi this recipe would be called banana suji halwa. in english it is akin to banana semolina pudding.
whether it is ganesh puja or satyanarayan puja or devi puja or for any auspicious occasion, halwa or sheera is always made in india.
in bombay, in the community pujas and functions, banana sheera was always made and served as a prasad. prasad means a gift from the divine. it also means food that is first offered to the diety and then served to the devotees. more about prasad here on wiki.
the sounds of the aarti and bhajans, the fragrance of the incense and garlands, and the taste of the sheera served along with panchamrut is an experience in itself.
even home this was a regular sweet made once a week by mom. so no wonder i make the banana sheera often with leftover ripe bananas.
i cannot recreate the sounds of the dhols & manjeera (drums & hand cymbals) in my home, but i can lit some diyas and incense sticks and make a good banana sheera.
generally the sheera is made with ghee (clarified butter) and that also lots of ghee. my version is a healthier one as i have used oil and that too less oil. some folks add milk and some water. you can go for any. for vegans, i would suggest adding water .
for the banana sheera recipe, i have used semolina which i have already roasted and stored. if you use fresh semolina, then you will have to fry the semolina for a longer period of time, say approx 10 mins, in oil/ghee till its color changes & becomes fragrant.
tip: roasted semolina does not get spoiled and does not become moldy too.
so here i present a step by step recipe for making banana sheera:
1: heat oil or ghee. add the pre roasted semolina and fry for some 2-3 minutes.
2: add the chopped bananas and stir.
3: lower the flame. add the hot water or milk, dry fruits and cardamom powder. stir. the semolina absorbs the liquids and swells up. stir well so that the mixture does not become lumpy.
4: add sugar and stir.
5: keep on stirring. ensure that the whole mixture is smooth and not lumpy. simmer for 2-3 minutes on a low or medium flame. lastly add the crushed saffron.
6: stir again and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
7: pour into serving bowls and serve hot or warm.
- 1 cup roasted semolina/suji/rava
- 2-3 bananas, chopped
- 8-10 almonds or cashews, chopped or sliced
- 10-12 raisins
- 2-3 cardamoms, powdered
- 3 tbsp oil or ghee
- 5-6 tbsp sugar (add as required)
- a pinch of saffron, crushed
- 21/2 cups hot water or hot milk
- heat oil in a pan.
- add pre roasted semolina and fry for 2-3 minutes till they semolina starts getting fragrant.
- don’t brown the semolina.
- add chopped bananas and stir.
- add the hot water or milk and the dry fruits.
- add sugar and stir.
- simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- now add the saffron.
- stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes more.
- serve hot or warm.
the dry fruits can also be fried in oil or ghee and then added lastly to the sheera.
some more ghee or oil can also be added to get a smooth texture.
if using semolina which is not roasted already, heat ghee or oil. add the semolina and fry for some 8-10 mins or more on a low flame till the semolina changes color and become fragrant. don’t brown the semolina. keep on stirring in between.