Yamunas Baked Bananas Stuffed with Tamarind-Flavoured Coconut
My Godsister Yamuna Devi sadly passed away not too long ago. I would like to continue to occasionally offer her classic recipes online for your cookery pleasure.
Yamunas Baked Bananas Stuffed with Tamarind-Flavoured Coconut (Nariyal Bhara Kela)
Bananas are native to India and are one of the most popular fruits of the nation. There are said to be staggering 400 varieties of bananas. Even so, they are divided into only two categories: eating and cooking. In this dish, a small, very sweet eating banana, either yellow or red-skinned, known as lady fingers or golden fingers is preferred. Though they are traditionally baked in softened banana leaf wrappers on a coal-fed oven, I find that they bake wonderfully in any oven and in almost any type of baking dish.
Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 15 minutes,
Cooking time: 20 minutes,
Makes: 8 side dish servings,
2 tablespoons instant tamarind concentrate (available at Indian groceries),
1½ tablespoon water,
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint or ½ teaspoon dried mint,
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ¼ teaspoon paprika,
3 tablespoons grated fresh or dried coconut,
1 teaspoon garam masala,
½ teaspoon ajwain seeds or fennel seeds, crushed,
¼ teaspoon salt,
8 small firm ripe bananas, no more than 6-7 inches (15-18.5 cm) long, preferably finger bananas, red or yellow, 4-5 inches (10-12.5 cm) long,
3 tablespoons slivered almonds,
½ cup maple syrup,
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger,
1 tablespoon each lime and orange juice,
2 tablespoons melted butter,
Combine the tamarind concentrate with water and whisk with a fork until blended. Add the mint, cayenne or paprika, coconut, garam masala, ajwaini or fennel seeds and salt, and toss to mix.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Peel the bananas and, using a sharp paring knife, cut a slit about two-thirds through the flesh lengthwise, leaving ¼ inch (6 mm) uncut at each end. Very carefully ease the tamarind-coconut mixture evenly into the slits. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish and scatter slivered almonds over the bananas.
Combine the maple syrup, crystallized ginger, lime and orange juice and butter in a bowl and stir until blended. Pour the syrup over the bananas and blake for about 20 minutes, basting occasionally to keep them moist. Serve with a drizzle of the thickened syrup, either warm or at room temperature.