Thursday, October 27, 2016

Banana Halwa

Yields: 40 Pieces (approx)


Fully Ripe Nendra Bananas - 6 (see notes below)
Sugar - 1 3/4 cups (if you prefer sweeter, add 1/4 cup more)
Salt - a pinch
Ghee - 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon for greasing
Cashew nuts, chopped - 1/2 cup
Cardamom Powder - 1 teaspoon

  1. Peel all the bananas and cut them into 1cm thick discs.
  2. Place the banana pieces and sugar in a container and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Do not cook the banana pieces directly in the cooker as the banana pieces might get charred or stick to the cooker.
  3. Remove the container from the pressure cooker and let it cool down to room temperature.
  4. Puree the cooked banana. Add the liquid sugar too that has been produced as the sugar melted while pressure cooking. Make sure the puree has no banana piece left behind.
  5. Take the pureed banana and a pinch of salt in a large microwave cooking bowl, mix well. Set the microwave to cook on HIGH for 30 minutes. It very important to pause the oven and stir thoroughly for every 10 minutes and place it back in the oven immediately. If reminding yourself to pause every 10 minutes is too tedious, cook for 10 minutes on HIGH and repeat it two more times. 
  6. Add chopped cashew nuts and cardamom powder. Mix well.
  7. From now, reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes or TWO 5 minutes interval; stirring thoroughly after 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee after each interval, mix well.
  8. Now reduce the cooking time to 9 minutes or THREE 3 minutes interval; stirring thoroughly after every 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee after each interval, mix well.
  9. Again reduce the cooking time to 8 minutes or FOUR 2 minute interval; stirring thoroughly after every 2 minutes. 
  10. The banana mixture should now form a lump. Cooking of the mixture will be done in total of 55-60 minutes depending on the power of the microwave oven and the quality of bananas used. To check the doneness, if the mixture after Step 9 has formed a fluffy and porous lump, stop cooking any more and follow step 10. If the mixture is still not fluffy and porous, microwave on HIGH for 1 minute intervals; stirring after every minute until it becomes fluffy and porous.
  11. Immediately, transfer this mixture onto a greased tray.
  12. Using a greased spatula spread the halwa evenly on the greased plate.
  13. Once cooled, cut it into squares or any other desired shapes.


  1. To prepare halwa, Nendra bananas must be very well ripened. The bananas are ripened enough when the peel turns completely black in color. If you use the bananas which are not fully ripened, the halwa will come out as desired.
  2. I use a 1.5kW and 1.8cu.ft microwave oven. If you are using a smaller microwave oven, the total time taken might differ. So keep a careful watch in the last few minutes for doneness.
  3. It is very important to place the mixture back in the oven after stirring in every interval so that the mixture does not lose heat and take longer to get the desired result.
  4. You can prepare the halwa, the traditional way. Instead of using Microwave in steps 5-10, stir the banana puree continuously in a heavy bottomed pan until it comes together and forms a fluffy and porous lump.
  5. Instead of Nendra variety of banana, you can use the small variety (Elakki/Yalakki/Kadali) banana. To replace 6 Nendra bananas, you need about 20 small bananas. I personally like the halwa made with this small variety of bananas.It have a a deep purplish-black color and a firmer texture.
  6. The most commonly available bananas, Cavendish/Dole/Chiquita bananas are not good to prepare this halwa.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Oats Upma

Serves: 4


Rolled Oats - 2 cups
Onion - 1
Tomato - 1 small
Capsicum - 1 small
Carrots - 2
French Beans - 10
Green Chili - 4
Fresh Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 1/2 cups
Cooking Oil - 1 tablespoon
Bay Leaf - 1
Cashew Nuts - 8
Bengal Gram - 1 tablespoon
Black Gram - 1/2 tablespoon
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Peppercorns - 1/2 teaspoon
Dry Red Chili - 1
Curry Leaves - 6
Asafoetida  Powder - 1/8 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Ghee/Clarified Butter - 2 teaspoons
Coconut, grated - 1/4 cup

For Garnishing:

Coriander Leaves


  1. Dry roast oats on medium flame until you get a nutty aroma. Keep aside.
  2. Chop onions, tomato, capsicum, carrots and french beans.
  3. Chop green chilies.
  4. In a pot, take water, chopped carrots and french beans. Bring the water to boil.
  5. Heat oil in a pan.
  6. Add bay leaf, saute until it turns slightly brown.
  7. Add cashew nuts, bengal gram, black gram, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns, dry red chili pieces and curry leaves.
  8. When the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add asafoetida powder. Mix well.
  9. Add chopped green chilis. Saute for half a minute.
  10. Now add chopped onions, saute until they turn translucent.
  11. Now add chopped capsicum and fresh green peas. Saute until capsicum turn slight soft.
  12. Add roasted oats, turmeric powder and salt mix well.
  13. Add boiling water, chopped tomato, ghee and grated coconut. Mix well.
  14. Cover and cook on low flame for about 8-10 minutes. Gently mix a couple of times while cooking. The moisture collected due to covering will cook oats, so it is very important to cook it it covered with a lid.
  15. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  16. This must be served hot.