I credit this recipe to my dear friend Uma. I have always thought that she was good at adding the “Kerala touch” to her South indian recipes, now I can’t name that exact ingredient which provides that flavor, so I just try to emulate her method of making the vazhakkai, mor kuzhambu etc to hopefully give it a similar taste.
Vazhakkai is also known as green banana or raw plantain and is famous in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, especially Kerala, home to many vazhakkai delicacies. I was never a big fan of vazhakkai growing up, as the few ways I’d eaten them was in a mushy mass with some coconut added. The other palatable variety was to eat it as a “fry” or chop the plantains in pieces and fry it the usual South Indian style, but again, it didn’t inspire me enough to ever debut this vegetable in my kitchen.
Uma’s method of making podimas was unique, at least to me, so I decided to try it for the first time a couple of weeks ago when I made mor kuzhambu (South Indian style kadhi). The result was a great, tasty twist to vazhakkai, definitely not that mushy mass, and a perfect accompaniment to mor kuzhambu. The only thing I will change when I make it again, is to not cook it for too long as it tends to get dry.
Green bananas/plantains (available in the Indian grocery stores. Not to be confused with the yellow plantains) – 3
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 2-3 tbsp
Green chilies – 3-4
Oil – 1 tbsp
1. Chop the bananas in half and cut off the ends.
2. Immerse them in water and bring to boil for a few minutes. You can cover the pot if you want to cook the bananas, but make sure not to overcook. The skin of the bananas turns dark and you will see the skin separate a little from the flesh.
3. Cook the bananas completely and peel them.
4. Using a grater, grate all the boiled bananas and keep them aside.
5. Grind the coconut and green chilies to a coarse paste. You may use a little water if needed.
5. In a pan, heat the oil, add the mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. When the seeds splutter, add the grated bananas, and then the coconut-chili paste.
6. Saute this mixture on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes till the bananas are evenyl seasoned.
7. You may add the juice of half a lime/lemon to taste. This step is optional depending on your liking to add some sourness to this dish. I didn’t add the lime juice the first time, but will do it the next time to see if it makes this dish more moist.
This is best enjoyed with rice and mor kuzhambu or South indian (Kerala) style kadhi (buttermilk stew), which was our lunch that day. Mor Kuzahmbu is another of Uma’s famous dishes, the recipe of which I will post shortly.