I’m not going to lie- I spent all weekend moping about the fact that I didn’t have something of a gameplan for the future. I may have also wanted to start off this post with more morosity, and had even planned sentences such as, “I feel like a poached egg that hit the whirlpool of water just fine, but didn’t ensconce itself, and was left to float in a pool of its own mess.” If I’m flustered, at least I’m flustered in someplace pretty. Della’s camp rooms in Lonavala boast the stunning view I’m sitting before as I type this- they provide the perfect backdrop for this Coorgi recipe.
My jaunt in Bangalore last month was so brief that I have not been able to do justice to the city. To think that I was so close to getting my hands on a bottle of Kachampuli vinegar, but couldn’t cause I had to rush home, makes me sad. Come monsoons, the people of Coorg or Kodagu, to the east of Bangalore, harvest the Panapuli fruit and use it to make the super sour and indigenous Kachampuli vinegar. Ripe fruit is gathered in banana-leaf lined baskets, and placed over bottles to catch the dripping juice. This is then dried out over heat, much like you would for balsamic reduction, then cooled and sold (Interestingly, the dried fruit is called fish tamarind and is used to add sourness to fish curries). Without this, trying a lot of Coorgi dishes is considered futile because it imparts a sourness that is unmatched by tamarind. Until I am able to procure a bottle for myself, I wouldn’t try my hand at say a Pandi Curry (pork curry) or a Coorgi Fish fry. Instead, I decided to spend time perfecting a Coorgi sweetmeat that had entered my kitchen once a few years ago.
A Coorg Table’s Kaveri Ponappa wrote the recipe for these Bale Muruku or banana fritters for an edition of BBC Good Food India. These sweet pakoras are crisp on the outside from the rice flour and velvet smooth within- sure to win over any guest coming for tea. I love these because they’re a great way to use up ripe bananas which are on their way from spotty to an unrecognisable black. Dotted with sesame seeds, redolent with banana and coconut and that unmissable whiff of cardamom, this bale muruku stays good for a week, if they last that long. Fritters will always find takers, monsoons or not, and they go well with some vanilla ice cream too, if you’re a bit queasy about serving these by themselves.
Ripe bananas 4
Salt a pinch
Jaggery 4 tbsp, powdered or grated
Cardamom 1/4 tsp
Coconut 1/4 cup, grated
Sesame Seeds 2 tbsp
Rice Flour 4 tbsp
All-purpose flour 1 tbsp
Oil for deep-frying
Mash the bananas. Then, in a bowl, mix together the jaggery, salt, coconut, sesame seeds and cardamom.
Mix this together using your hands and add in the rice flour and the all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. It should be soft, but you should still be able to handle it.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and droop spoonfuls of the mixture and let it fry to a deep-brown. Fish them out and drain on a paper towel. Serve these hot.