Are you one of those kids at heart who eats an Oreo cookie by twisting it apart and saving the cream for last? I used the same technique while eating pazham pori for the first time in our neighbour's house in Ernakulam when I was a kid. In this case, I enjoyed the crust more than the filling. Mention pazham pori to any true-blue Malayalee and it almost instantly evokes nostalgia or as one of my friends put it - "pazham pori is an emotion and you would understand this emotion only if you grew up in Kerala". Kerala's spin on banana fritters might be one of the state's most ubiquitous snacks along with the paruppu vada (Or masala vada) but unlike other popular snacks, this one's almost unique to Kerala. It's probably why it triggers more emotions or nostalgia. It's a quintessential teatime snack that's usually served fresh off the stove in many homes.
Just perfect with a cup of hot tea when you hear the pitter-patter of the rain on a typical monsoon evening in Kerala. It's also one of the snacks you're likely to find at most tea shops or tiny eateries - hubs for conversations and political discourse even before we heard of the term 'WhatsApp University'. It's not usually served piping hot at these eateries.
The appeal for this snack stems from its simplicity - ripe bananas coated in flour and deep or shallow fried. The banana is the 'hero ingredient' in this dish. The long Kerala banana, also known as the Nenthrapazham, is used when it's ripe. Chinnu Vinod, who runs Batter n Dough a home baking venture in Aluva (near Kochi), is one of the many Malayalees who has her share of childhood tales that revolve around Pazham Pori. They call it Ethakka appam, like many homes in Kerala; pazham pori tends to be the commercial term, used more in eateries. Here's Chinnu's family recipe that has stood the test of time:
Ethakka Appam or Pazham Pori Recipe:
Recipe Courtesy - Chinnu Vinod, Batter n Dough, Aluva
- Ripe Nenthrapazham -4 nos
- Maida - 1 cup
- Rice flour - 4 tbsp
- Salt - 1/4 tsp
- Sugar - 2 tsp
- Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
- Water - about 1 cup (consistency to coat the bananas)
- Coconut oil/ cooking oil - to shallow fry
- Cut the bananas in half. Slice the half into 2 or 3 depending on the side of the bananas
- Heat a frying pan with oil
- Mix all the ingredients to make a thick batter
- Dip the bananas in the batter to coat them evenly
- Fry them until golden brown in medium heat (try not to overcrowd the pan)
- If you have any remaining batter you can spoon them into the oil and fry them too
Note: Another way to make them is to chop the bananas into small cubes, mix them along with the batter, and spoon them into the oil and fry them. You can use any kind of bananas for this. Turmeric powder is added to the batter in some home recipes, this tends to lend a more golden hue to the fritters.
Also Read: Ela Ada: The Kerala Special Dessert That's Not Only Sweet But Super Healthy Too
Banana tempura, warm whiskey honey and vanilla sugar
Recipe courtesy- Sandesh Reddy, Chef and Restauranteur, Chennai
If it ain't broke don't fix it. I asked Chennai-based chef and restauranteur who runs Sandy's - one of my favourite dessert stops in the city, for a quirky version of Pazham Pori. Sandesh was particular not to dilute the original. Instead, he opted to recreate the textures and tastes with different elements and flavours.
- 2 ripe bananas. Cut into any shape you like. (preferably the long green ones cut lengthwise)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup of cornflour
- 1/3 cup of maida
- A pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup of ice-cold water (you can add a couple of ice cubes to the water but ensure that the measure is about the same )
- Oil for frying
- Vanilla sugar (for dusting)
To make whiskey honey:
- Take 1/2 a cup of honey in a small saucepan and add a large measure of whiskey to it. Whisk it till it mixes completely.
- If you heat this mixture for a few minutes the alcohol will evaporate leaving behind the flavour of the whiskey.
To make the tempura
- In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients.
- Add the water and ice cube into the bowl and use your hand to roughly mix the batter.
- It's okay to have a few small lumps ( in fact it's better to leave some small lumps as this causes beautiful morsels of crunchy nuggets of satisfaction.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep container. Once the oil gets hot (but not smoking hot ) dip the banana into the batter and drop it in the oil. You can even drizzle some of the batter over the fritter while it's still frying to create more crunchy edges.
- Once it gets golden brown remove the tempura from the oil and drain it on paper towels.
To serve sprinkle some vanilla sugar on top and drizzle the warm whiskey honey over the tempura.
Eat it while it's hot!
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.