I came across an exceptionally sweet and aromatic adaptation of this nursery pudding after a long and dusty drive to the lush hills of Kerala. Over the years I have tinkered with the recipe and its curious balance of sugar and spice, and it is now my favourite interpretation of this pudding.
coconut milk 400ml
cardamom pods 6
light muscovado sugar 80g
ground cinnamon a knife point
a vanilla pod
egg yolks 2
bread 12 small slices (about 250g)
a little demerara sugar
For the bananas:
golden caster sugar 2 tbsp
a small orange
Pour the milks into a mixing bowl and whisk briefly till smooth. Crack the cardamom pods open and remove the black seeds, then crush these into a coarse powder with a heavy weight or a pestle and mortar. Add the crushed seeds to the milks along with the muscovado sugar and cinnamon.
Set the oven to 160C/gas 3. Slice the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Stir them into the milk mixture, then beat in the eggs and yolks. Set aside.
Grease a baking dish around 22cm in diameter. Butter the bread generously, remove the crusts, then cut into triangles. Lay the slices of bread, slightly overlapping, in the dish. Pour over the milk mixture and tuck in the halved vanilla pod. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custard quivers when the dish is gently shaken. Remove and leave to cool.
Peel the bananas and slice into thick rounds. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the bananas and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the sugar and cook till it starts to caramelise and the bananas become golden and sticky.
Finely grate on the orange zest. Serve with the pudding.
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