Shira: A Simple Dessert for Special Occasions, South Indian Style
Posted on 14 December 2016
Shira is a semolina (or wheatlets) based dessert. Although it is quite rich and delicious on its own, bananas or even pineapple may be added. Ripe bananas are my family's favorite.
Shira is usually prepared for festivals or special occasions, but it is a good, simple recipe worth knowing as it requires only a few ingredients and is perfect for filling in that special corner just for sweets.
I usually make Shira when I've bought too many bananas and some have become very ripe. If you've ever wondered what else you could make besides banana bread with ripe bananas, give this recipe a try. Variations of this dish are popular throughout Asia and the Middle East. The following recipe is the way I typically prepare it, but feel free to play with the ingredients to find what your family likes best.
This recipe will serve about six people.
What you will need:
1 cup roasted Semolina — If this sounds unfamiliar to you, don't worry! You can find semolina in the baking section of most grocery stores, even Wal-Mart.
1 1/2 cup hot milk — Microwave about one minute
1 cup warm water — Same as the milk
½ cup clarified butter or ghee —Quite simple to make yourself, but may be found in any Ethnic food store. Found a good ghee recipe on foodnetwork. See link below
½ cup brown sugar
1 ripe banana, cut into small cubes
Handful raw cashew nuts, about 10
10 cardamom pods, decorticated and powdered —Cardamom powder may be purchased in stores, but it tends to lose its flavor and aroma over time. For a dish that really stands out, it's worth the small amount of work to prepare yourself
Saffron strands soaked in a tablespoon of warm milk, about 10 —Soak for at least five minutes. Do not discard the strands
How to Make It:
First, prepare your semolina and cashews by roasting individually in sauce pan.
First we will prepare the semolina by gently roasting it to bring out the flavor. Heat clarified butter or ghee in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. You just need the clarified butter or ghee to melt.
Toss in the cashew nuts and roast them until they are golden brown in color. Take them out of the pan and set aside for later.
Add the semolina into the remaining ghee. Roast it for 3 minutes or until fragrant. It will develop a subtle, nutty aroma.
Next, add the ripe banana to the pan, lower the heat, and continue cooking for a couple more minutes. on slow fire.
If your family is like mine, they will be filtering into the kitchen by now, asking for a taste.
Now stir in the water and milk. Stir slowly to incorporate the liquid, then cover and continue cooking on low heat until all the liquid is absorbed.
We are just about done. Add the brown sugar and let it completely incorporate into the semolina mixture. Stir in the saffron milk and cardamom powder. Mix well. Finish by sprinkling the roasted cashews on top.