Friday, 25 July 2014

Variation on a Theme: Persian Banana Bread

I usually like to experiment with ingredients and flavours and see what mental image they bring to mind, and when I looked in the press and saw leftover pistachio nuts from my pistachio ice-cream fiasco, an image of hanging gardens, men in parachute pants on black horses with curved swords, and bejewelled belly-dancers in head scarves came to mind. Do not ask me why, although my recent works-of-Zack-Snyder marathon (including "300") may have put me in the right frame of mind to conjure such images.

So, I went ahead and made a Persian inspired banana bread with pistachios and orange-lemon glaze.

Middle-Eastern cookery has been fashionable over the last 5 or so years, I have found. Here in Limerick all of a sudden Lebanese restaurants have sprung up, jars of Moroccan spices and preserved lemons have started to appear in the supermarkets, and cookery programmes have been centred on Moroccan and "Persian-style" cookery and street food. I know that Morocco is nowhere near the Middle East, but countries that border the Mediterranean sea to the south and the east tend to have the same sensibility when it comes to flavours and combinations.

When I think of Persian food, I think of citrus fruits (especially lemons), pistachios, prunes, lamb, spices (cinnamon, ginger, star anise, turmeric, paprika, mint, coriander, and cloves spring foremost to mind) honey, almonds, chickpeas and flatbreads. I know there isn't a single banana in sight in that list, but I just fancied some banana bread and making it a little bit more interesting.

So, I used my vegan banana bread recipe (and it turned out quite differently this time, the high likelihood of which I explain in that recipe) and added:
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala blend for the spices
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) toasted and chopped pistachio nuts for the filling
When it was cooked, I brushed the top with some very delicious Seville orange marmalade, warmed mixed with about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and then put the loaf back in the oven for about 3 minutes to set the glaze.

Needless to say it is very delicious, but due to the variant nature of bananas, this one turned out much drier than usual. I'm thinking maybe some sort of peanut butter and jam sandwich inspired load next, but I am yet to work out how exactly that would translate into a loaf.

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