Banana Halwa, also known as Banana Sheera or Satyanarayan Prasad is an Indian sweet which I have grown up consuming during most of the puja functions in Mumbai, Maharashtra. This Banana Halwa recipe is made by cooking semolina or cream of wheat and bananas together in milk or water, flavored with green cardamom. It is finished with dry fruits, nuts and saffron. This sweet dish is a delectable way of consuming bananas.
About Banana Halwa
Whether an auspicious occasion or no, my mother’s Banana Sheera was always a regular at home during my growing up years. No wonder, this dessert has been with me till today. Another fruit sheera that’s a personal favorite is this Pineapple Sheera.
Both halwa or sheera or kesari are made in similar ways as long as you are making it according to the recipe. The main difference is that ‘sheera’ is a Marathi term and ‘kesari‘ is the South Indian term for the Hindi word ‘halwa‘ that is made with semolina. In English, Banana Halwa is akin to a Banana Semolina Pudding.
A halwa or sheera is one of those classic dishes that is always made on a Ganesh Puja, Satyanarayan Puja, Devi puja or any other Hindu religious/auspicious occasion in India. For this reason, Banana Halwa is also referred to as Satyanarayan Prasad in many Indian households.
Banana Sheera has always been a part of the community pujas and functions across Mumbai as a prasad. ‘Prasad’ means a gift of the divine, also food that is first offered to a deity and then served to devotees.
The sounds of the aarti and bhajan, the fragrance of the incense and garlands, and the flavors of the Satyanarayan Prasad served along with Panchamrut (another common prasad) is an experience in itself.
On regular days, I might not be able to recreate the sounds of the ‘dhol’ and ‘manjeera’ (drums and hand cymbals) at home. But I can surely light some ‘diyas’ (earthen lamps) and incense sticks and enjoy the moment with a lovely Banana Halwa made with ripe bananas.
More on My Recipe
Essentially, any sheera or halwa is made with copious quantities of clarified butter or ghee. But I do make this sheera on occasions with a neutral oil (odorless and flavorless oil) and sometimes adding lesser amount of ghee.
Another point of debate is whether to use milk or water in a sheera. To this, I say use whatever you wish to. However, using milk will obviously make it richer. Thus, tastier too.
In case you are a vegan, it’s a no brainer as you’ll have to use water or plant based milk in this Banana Halwa recipe.
It is best to roast the semolina and store it before using in the recipe. By doing so you can avoid the semolina from getting spoilt and moldy. When using fresh semolina, you will have to fry it for a longer time, approximately 10 minutes, in oil/ghee till it changes color and is fragrant.
In the recipe I have used pre-roasted rava. If you use un-roasted rava, you will have to roast the rava for about 7 to 8 minutes on a low to medium-low heat until fragrant and well roasted.
Note that this Banana Halwa recipe is very different than the South Indian Banana Halwa variant made with ripe bananas, sugar or jaggery, ghee and flavorings. This variant does not have any cereal like suji or rava added to it and is solely made with banana as one of the hero ingredient.
How to make Banana Halwa
1. Heat 5 tablespoons ghee or 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil in a kadai or pan. On most occasions I use ghee to make Banana Sheera.
Add 1 cup roasted semolina and roast for 2 to 3 minutes stirring often.
If using rava that is not roasted, you will have to roast it for a 7 to 8 minutes stirring often on a low to medium-low heat.
2. Add 2 to 3 chopped bananas and stir to give a mix.
3. Lower the heat, add 2.5 cups hot water or milk in batches. Give a thorough mix every time you add the hot water or milk so that lumps are not formed. Take care when adding the hot liquids as the mixture splutters.
Add ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder (or 2 to 3 green cardamoms, powdered) and the dry fruits – 8 to 10 chopped almonds or cashews, chopped and 10 to 12 raisins. Stir to mix.
The semolina absorbs the liquid and swells up. Stir well so that the mixture does not become lumpy.
4. Add ½ cup sugar (raw sugar or regular sugar) or as required, and stir to combine until the sugar dissolves.
5. Keep stirring. Ensure that the mixture is smooth and not lumpy. Simmer the Banana Halwa for 2 to 3 minutes on low or medium heat.
Lastly, add a pinch of crushed saffron.
6. Stir again and cook the Banana Sheera for 2 to 3 minutes more.
7. Pour the Banana Halwa into serving bowls and let it set. Un-mould and serve hot or warm. Choose also to serve it hot or warm in small serving bowls if you prefer.
- If you are using rava which is not roasted already, fry rava in the hot ghee or oil for 7 to 8 minutes or more on low to medium-low heat till it changes color and becomes fragrant. Keep stirring in between and make sure not to brown it.
- The rava will absorb the water or milk and swell up. Stir well for a lump-free mixture. Add the hot liquids in batches and stir every time.
- Roasted semolina doesn’t get spoiled or becomes moldy. So it helps to have a jar of homemade roasted semolina handy when making this halwa if you want to reduce the cooking time.
- You can fry the dry fruits and nuts in oil or ghee and add to the Banana Halwa at the last. For a halwa with a smooth texture, you can add some more ghee or oil.
- You can choose to add milk or water. Adding milk instead of water will make the halwa richer. To make a vegan variation, use water or plant based milk and neutral flavored oil.
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Banana Halwa | Banana Sheera
- 1 cup rava – roasted, (sooji, semolina, cream of wheat) – finer textured
- 2 to 3 bananas – chopped
- 8 to 10 almonds or cashews – chopped or sliced
- 10 to 12 raisins
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms – powdered or ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder
- 5 tablespoons Ghee or 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil
- ½ cup sugar or add as required
- 1 pinch saffron – crushed
- 2.5 cups hot water or hot milk
- Heat ghee or oil in a kadai or pan. Add roasted semolina and on low to medium-low heat roast for 2 to 3 minutes, till the semolina starts getting fragrant. Don't brown the semolina.
- Add chopped bananas and stir.
- Add hot water or milk in batches and mix thoroughly after adding every batch of either the hot milk or water. This ensures that lumps are not formed. Take care when adding the hot liquids as the rava mixture splutters.
- Add the chopped almonds or cashews and raisins and cardamom powder.
- Add sugar and stir to mix thoroughly until sugar is dissolved. Simmer the Banana Halwa for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the saffron. Stir and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Serve Banana Halwa hot or warm.
- I have used pre-made roasted rava to make the banana sheera. If using un-roasted raw rava or suji, then roast on low heat for about 7 to 8 minutes or till the rava granules look crisp and have a nice aroma.
- Add your choice of nuts and dry fruits to the recipe.
- You can use either water or milk to make the banana halwa. Make sure the water or milk is hot when you add it to the roasted rava.
- For a smooth and richer halwa, opt to add more ghee if you prefer.
- This recipe can be easily scaled to make a small batch or a big batch.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Banana Halwa recipe post from the blog archives first published in January 2013 has been republished and updated on 30 Jun 2022.