Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pazhampuri (pronounced Pa-the-Malayalam-roll-your-tongue‘Ra’m-Pu-Ri)

                                                                            (took this pic from google images -

I’d just turned nineteen. It was my first trip to Kerala and I watched the lush green carpet whizz past me as I sat in the jiggety-jaggety KSRTC bus. With a cup of milky, sweet cardamom tea and a snack that I had never seen before, I got down to savor the heavily-hung morning mist, the gusts of unbelievable fresh air and a visual treat of a countryside swathed in green, with little brown huts tucked into its fold.

I don’t know if it was the circumstances that I first tasted my pazampuri in, or the delicious little snack itself –I was smitten. I mean, think about it, a batter-fried ripe banana?! In my home, we only heard and saw of vegetable slices being batter-fried into bajjis and bondas, and on the occasion of death anniversaries, the cooks dished up something called ‘sukhi untlu’- a coconut jaggery ball, batter-fried. That’s about it. But a ripe banana batter-fried into a golden, crisp snack—it was a moment of discovery. Twelve years later, my crush on this delicacy hasn’t diminished.

My mother-in-law knows my weakness for this snack, and willingly makes them for me when I’m in Cochin. You wake up from your afternoon nap with the aroma of freshly-made pazampuris wafting in the air. She did try them in Bangalore, but was very annoyed with the quality of Kerala pazham you get here! Not nice at all, she whined.

So here is how she makes it: Mix up a nice batter of maida, a bit of rice flour, sugar and cardamom powder with water. You can add a pinch of soda if you please. Take 2 Kerala bananas and cut them at the center, so you have two halves. Now slice each of these halves longitudinally, so you have thin, long slices of banana. Dip these banana slices into the batter and deep fry in sizzling hot oil. Transfer them on to a tissue paper and eat them hot with a cup of milky elaichi tea.

Ok, here’s my twist to the recipe. Although this is eaten as a snack in Kerala, you could serve it for dessert too! Just two simple, extra things to do: Coat the banana strips in honey (or even date syrup) and add some sesame seeds into the batter for a crunchiness that you’ll love. Dip these honey coated banana strips in the sesame batter and deep fry. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

It tastes out-of-the-world!