Banana and coconut pudding
By: Jenni MuirServes: 4
IT is astonishing that such a healthy dessert — made from fresh fruit and lightly cooked in a steamer — could taste so rich and luxurious. The deceptively decadent creaminess comes from mashed or puréed fruit and the addition of starchy sago or tapioca. This very simple recipe is based on a traditional Indian pudding introduced to me by Das Sreedharan of Rasa Restaurants. In his home state of Kerala it would be cooked in banana leaves and include a significant amount of white sugar as well as jaggery.
3 tablespoons pearl sago or tapioca
4 ripe bananas, peeled
50g/2oz palm sugar or jaggery, grated if necessary
1 vanilla pod, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 heaped tablespoons coconut flakes
- Rinse the sago or tapioca then leave to soak according to the packet instructions - usually 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, mash or purée the bananas with the palm sugar or jaggery. Split open the vanilla pod, if using, and scrape all the seeds into the banana mixture; otherwise, stir in the vanilla extract.
- Fill a steamer with water and bring to the boil. Drain the sago thoroughly and stir it into the banana mixture until well combined. Spoon the mixture into heatproof serving bowls or cups and top each with a heaped tablespoon of coconut flakes. If liked, add a small piece of vanilla pod to each serving as a decoration.
- Cover each pudding with a piece of aluminium foil and place in the steamer to cook for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the hot foil from the cooked puddings and serve hot or warm.
- In Kerala, soft ripe jackfruit is sometimes used in place of banana. The recipe is also good made with puréed mango or berries, or a thick sauce of dried apricots. Whatever your choice, you'll need around 500g/1lb 2oz of prepared fruit to cook with.
- Freshly grated coconut is delicious and authentic here, however you can also make this dish using dried shredded coconut or desiccated coconut. In the case of the latter, use a little less.
- The dessert looks terrific steamed and presented in foil parcels, or banana leaves if they're available. Dip the banana leaves in hot water before use to make them easy to fold into parcels, and have ready thin strips of leaf or kitchen string to hold them together.
- If you choose to use an unstarchy fruit, consider serving the puddings with a spoonful of lightly sweetened cream, some rich yogurt or good-quality coconut cream.