Monday, December 29, 2014

Pikkale Kele Bajo/Podi(Banana Fritters)

In this cold and wicked winter, what better snack can keep you warm, energetic and happy? Pikkale Kele Podi/Bajo or Banana Fritters!
We GSBs settled down south in parts of Coastal Karnataka and Kerala adapted the local produce in our cooking and came out with wonderful delicacies. The North Indian style chickpea flour coated snack Bhujia/Bajji became Bajo and we also included ripe Nendra bananas that originated from Kerala and made fine Pikkale Kele Bajo which means ripe banana fritters. Nendra banana is mostly used for making chips and halwa, but we make a number of snacks, sweets, desserts and fritters also with it. Podi is a general term used for these fritters but in actual Konkani, 'podi' means a chunk or small piece of any veggie or fruit. One more ripe Banana podi we make is with rice flour coating. That one is made mostly during festive occasions or for death ceremony feasts.

Restaurants seldom make this kind of fritters. Rather they make ones with refined flour and rice flour batter as coating. They also slice the banana into long 'peshis'. Peshi in Konkani means long slice. I have tasted excellent banana fritters at Komal's Cream Parlour, Komal's Red Rose, Udupi Krishna Bhavan, Madhuvan and Mohini Vilas when I was young. Some of the Brahmin restaurants like Aradhana, Karthik, Vishwa Bhavan and Indra Bhavan also made them with perfection. One more restaurant to quote here is Naivedya in Hotel Panchami Bejai Mangalore, where I have tasted very good Baale Hannina Podi(Kannada)/Parnd Podi(Tulu) or Banana Fritters in the Nineties. I don't remember having tried GSB style Kele Bajo at Taj Mahal Cafe or Hotel Ayodhya. Most probably they had them on the menu.

This is fairly easy to make, but you should pick the bananas that are just ripe and not over ripe. The outer skin should be stiff and yellow in colour and inner flesh should be firm and pale pinkish orange in colour. Making the batter for outer coating is also an art. Right thickness and smoothness ensures perfectly crisp outer and soft inner after you fry the fritters. Oil used is essentially Coconut Oil but you can also use other refined oils. Be sure to heat the oil just enough and keep the gas at medium mark as the oil starts fuming.

Make them on these winter days and have them with a cup of hot coffee or tea. Heaven is just outside your window after relishing this!
Nendra Banana - 2 just ripe(Around 400Gms)
Chickpea Flour(Besan) - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 1/4 cup
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - To taste
Asafotoeda - A pinch dissolved in little water.

Water - QS
Black Sesame Seeds(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Coconut Oil - For deep frying

Mix in chickpea flour using just sufficient water, using your hand to make a thick batter of dropping consistency.
make sure the flour doesn't form lumps.
Add the rice flour, salt to taste, asafotoeda solution, sesame seeds and red chilli powder.
Beat well.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan till it starts fuming.
Reduce the flame to medium.
Peel the bananas and cut them into round discs, about 5 mm thick.
Dip the banana discs in the batter and fry as many as the oil can hold.
Fry well on both the sides, till the fritters are crisp and golden.
Transfer to absorbent paper and allow to cool down for 2-3 minutes.
Serve with coconut chutney or ketchup as a tea time snack. 
You can keep any excess chickpea flour batter in the fridge and use it within two days.

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