Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Banana Split.... Deconstructed. A Light Variation On A Classic.

    
   This is a post about Banana Splits and a confession. I have to be thoroughly honest here and say that I'm not an expert on banana splits. In fact I've never eaten a banana split. It's not that they haven't looked good, and I'm sure they taste great, it's just that they've always appeared so daunting to me. The giant curve of banana, the tons of whipped cream, ice cream, different syrups, nuts and cherries. The reason I never started eating a banana split is mainly because I knew I'd never make it out alive.

   The other thing about Banana Splits is that they've always seemed to be a "date dessert," a real retro Archie and Veronica thing. The sort of dessert that would be on the table between Gidget and Moondoggy in some old movie. Not that Jonah Hill wouldn't be caught dead eating one, it just wouldn't be on-screen, and maybe it wouldn't even be eating.

    Then I read about Kelly Ripas' Build A Banana Split For Ovarian Cancer Research Contest, and I saw all the wonderful Banana Splits that my fellow Foodbloggers created, and I was hooked. The world of Banana Splits was opened to me and of course I wanted to contribute to this great cause. The question was, how?

    I've never seen an Indian version of the Banana Split. Of course there are Indian desserts that feature bananas, there are dishes that feature plantains and there are many, many, many Indian sweets. I knew that if I wanted to make a Banana Split it would have to have Indian flavors and be suitable for serving after an elaborate Indian dinner.  I figured that in order to make my split I ought to break down the components, toss the ones that didn't work, keep the ones that did, and hopefully come out with a Banana Split with an Indian twist.

   Number 1 was Bananas..no way around that. They were a keeper. For a moment I considered Plantains but decided to go the purist route.


  Number 2 was ice cream. Banana Splits use scoops of ice cream, sometimes the same flavor, sometimes a mix of flavors. I decided in the name of simplicity to stick with one flavor, so I created a Rose Lassi Ice Cream.

  Number 3 was whipped cream and here Alan and I had a disagreement. He wanted whipped cream. I thought the whipped cream would be too sweet and somehow "wrong" so I started draining yogurt for sirkhand, a type of sweetened thickened Indian version of creme fraiche.

   Number 4 was nuts.. (which was what I started to think I was cooking this up). Indian desserts often feature pistachios, so they were a lock.

    I also decided that I wanted to make the dish elegant, or as elegant as I could. I decided on a deconstructed Banana Split served almost as a dessert amuse bouche.


Banana Split Indian Style




Here's what I did:
 
Start with The Banana Part
Get 3 bananas. Cut them in rounds.


 In a deep skillet or kadhai, heat about 4 Tbs of unsalted butter.
When the butter melts add in about 4 Tbs of Indian jaggery or if you haven't got that, dark brown sugar.


When the sugar has dissolved in the butter, toss in the banana pieces and coat them well.


When the bananas are cooked and glossy (this only takes a few minutes) add in 1/2 cup of grated unsweetened coconut.
I've been lucky enough to score a sample of Tropical Traditions Organic Shredded Coconut and so I used that.


  Wheeeee! Here it goes.


Blend it in well, then take the bananas off the heat and set them aside to cool.

 
Now on to The Ice Cream Part.
I decided a Sweet Lassi Rose Ice Cream would be great with the bananas. This is what I did.
In a large bowl mix:
 3/4 cup of sugar
 2 cups of buttermilk
Whisk it together well until the sugar is blended in then add in:
 2 cups of whipping cream
 1 tsp of rose water
 a pinch of kosher salt.
Pour everything into an ice cream maker and process as usual. Put it into the freezer until you're ready.

Now for the Sirkhand.
Take a cup of yogurt and place it in a yogurt strainer suspended over a glass. Let it drain for at least 4 hours, or until it's slightly thickened. Mix in a bit of powdered sugar to sweeten it slightly.

Putting It All Together.
This took some thought. I tried it a few different ways, (of course I had to sample the various versions) and finally at Alan's suggestion I found the way that worked.
 This is it.
 I had several grappa glasses, small, slender glasses just a fit for an iced tea spoon.
 I stacked my fillings into the glasses.
  1.) On the bottom a bit of sirkhand for a slightly tartish( is that a word?) finish.
  2.) next a sprinkling of finely chopped pistachio nuts
  3.) 3 rounds of the cooked coconut coated bananas
  4.) 2  rounds of Sweet Rose Lassi Ice Cream
  5.)  A small sprinkle of chopped pistachio nuts


   There it is. When a spoon is dipped in one gets all the flavors of a banana split, without the traditional shape. With the butter and coconut and jaggery flavor, a small dessert goes a long way. It's rich but not heavy, and Alan reports that no weight was gained in the consumption of this Banana Split, but full pleasure was experienced. A win/win.

   So there it is, my version of a Banana Split. If you'd like to make a virtual Banana Split yourself, visit Kelly Ripas' website and create one. For each Banana Split that's made, $1.00 is donated to Ovarian Cancer research, and there are other goodies for you virtual splitters too, so surf on over and check it out.

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