One of my favorite childhood memories is of the days when we would have a pooja at home. The long rituals were quite tedious, especially for a kid, but the fun part was getting together with all my cousins and the amazing vegetarian food one we got to eat at the end of it all.
The prasad, or offering to the deity, would usually be a sweet and simple but incredibly delicious dish called Sheera. Friends, family and neighbors would visit to pay their respects to the deity, and each visitor would get a dollop of the sheera in a cute little paper cup.
Now while sheera, made with rava (farina or cream of wheat), is a common breakfast food and snack in Indian homes, the sheera made for poojas is just a little more special.
For one, it incorporates bananas which elevates it from just delicious to simply sublime.
Sheera also uses tons of ghee and milk which, as is obvious by now, is not part of my pantry.
To make Sheera which was as authentic-tasting as it was tasty, I used almond milk. Almond milk is a great substitute for dairy in sweets and it is quite easily available at health food stores. Believe me, you will never be able to tell the difference. Besides, in a dish that uses a generous amount of sugar, it is also a healthier alternative.
My vegan version of Sheera tasted exactly like the original, and no animals were hurt in its making. Now that’s something even a god has to love.
Sheera or Halwa
- 1 cup rava or cream of wheat
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 2 cups almond milk (I used the regular version but feel free to go with low-fat)
- A few strands of saffron , soaked in 2 tbsp almond milk
- 1 large , ripe banana, cut into a very small dice
- 1/4- 1/2 cup cashew pieces
- 3-4 tbsp golden raisins
- 1 tsp oil
- In a small skillet, heat the oil and toast the cashew pieces and raisins until the cashew turns golden and the raisins plump up. Set aside.
- In a skillet, over medium heat, toast the rava until it turns just a couple of shades darker and tastes nutty
- Remove to a dish and set aside.
- In the same skillet, combine the almond milk, sugar, saffron and cardamom powder and bring to a gentle boil. Stir gently a couple of times to help the sugar dissolve.
- Add the bananas
- Add the reserved rava, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. It will take just a minute or two before the rava absorbs most of the milk and becomes quite thick.
- Before taking the sheera off the heat, add the cashews and raisins and stir in.
- Serve hot or at room temperature. It's delicious either way.
I want to apologize here for my rather erratic schedule, but these weeks have been tremendously busy both at home and work. I also want to thank two bloggers who gave me these really amazing awards recently: the lovely and talented Uma for the Rockin’ Girl Blogger award, and the incredibly gifted Priya who gave me the Yummy Blog award. I will need some time to figure out who to pass these on to, but meanwhile thanks so very much, ladies– coming from you, these gifts are really special!