Happy Valentine's Day to all!! Every year I make a cake or a pastry or a cupcake. This year I decided to make an Indian Sweet. I decided to make Nendra Ballehannina halwa which is my DH's favorite. For quite some time now, he had been asking me to make it. So I thought why not surprise him with these yummy plantain sweet bites on the V day:)
"Nendra Ballehannu" is the name given to ripe plantains in Kannada (an Indian language). The bananas have to be really ripe for the halwa to come out perfect. Outer skin of the plantain should become dark brown, that's when the plantains are ready to be used. Another important factor responsible for the success of these yummy bites is that you need to continuously stir the mixture. Yes , it does involve some hard work but believe me its well worth it:) The amount of sugar to be used largely depends on the sweetness of the plantains. You can add more or reduced the quantity mentioned to suit your taste buds.
- Plantains (Ripe) : 3
- Sugar : 1/2 cup
- Ghee / clarified butter : 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp
- Cashew nuts : 8-10 (broken into pieces)
- Cardamom Powder : 1/2 tsp
Note: All measurements are based on the US measuring cup and spoon sizes where 1 cup = 235 ml
- Peel the ripe plantains and using a blender or a food processor, make a smooth paste out of them. I again repeat, for great tasting halwa, the plantains need to ripe really well. Please see below the right color of the plantain skin. Only when it is that dark, it is ready to be used for the dish. 3 large plantains yielded about 1.5 cups of banana paste.
- In a thick bottomed pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee. Fry the cashew nuts until golden in color. Set it aside.
- To the same pan, add some more ghee and then the ground plantain paste. Remember to keep stirring the mixture continuously in low heat.Keep adding the ghee in installments.
- At one point, the mixture starts to thicken. Now add the sugar and continue with the stirring. Soon the mixture will start changing the color . You do not leave the mixture unattended as it will start sticking to the pan.
- After a good 35-40 minutes of stirring, you will reach a state when the mixture will start leaving ghee. Now add the fried cashew nuts (set aside some for garnishing) and the cardamom powder and mix for another 5 minutes. It will now look like a dense dark brown mass . Its time to turn off the heat at this point.
- Grease a tray using some ghee. Add the ready plantain mixture to the tray and spread it with a flat spatula. Set it aside to cool.
- Using a sharp knife , cut it into squares or the desired shape.Garnish with the remaining fried cashews.
- Amount of sugar to be used depend on the sweetness of the ripe plantains. Adjust the sugar accordingly.
- The halwa leaves behind some ghee. After removing the halwa, I use the same pan for making upma or any other dish. That way the ghee is well used.