Pazhampori is ubiquitous in Kerala. Since this particular variety of plantain is bountiful and abundant, men and women in charge of kitchen grab the frying pan and bunch of ripe plantains at the same breath, whenever we have some impromptu guests. Even when it is a pre-planned function, we have a soft spot for Pazhampori. In some places, because of the regional differences, it is also called as Eathakkaappam.
The taste of the Pazhampori made with the native variety available in Kerala is incomparable yet the ones made with the regular ripe plantains are also scrumptious. The only criterion is to look for fully ripe sweet plantains. The flour batter can be made with rice flour or wheat flour or all-purpose flour or even a combination of two types; some add beaten egg or baking powder to give an added texture to the outer covering. I have tried all the combinations and was stuck with maida and rice flour for a long time but now I am a convert. I prefer my mother’s simple recipe as it always gives me perfect crispy, soft and definitely not soggy, Pazhampori.
Recipe for Pazhampori/Kerala Banana Fritters
- 3 fully ripe plantains/Kerala Banana/Nethrappazham/Ethappazham
- ¾ cup rice flour
- ¼ cup all purpose flour/Maida
- 2 cardamom pods crushed
- 3 tbsp sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of the plantain)
- Around ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 ¼ cup water
- Oil for deep frying
- Make a batter by mixing rice flour, all purpose flour, turmeric powder and sugar with water; finally flavour it with crushed cardamoms and mix well into a smooth batter without any lumps.
- Diagonally slice ripe plantains into thin discs of around 3-4 inches length.
- Heat oil in a deep frying pot, in medium heat and when the oil is hot enough, dip diagonally cut banana slices into the batter and coat the fruit well; slide these batter dipped fruit into the hot oil and deep fry, occasionally flipping each side till the edges start to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the frying pan and strain it on a paper towel, to remove the excess oil. Continue frying other banana slices the same way without over crowding the pan. Serve hot with a cup of tea or coffee.
When you are in Kerala, please be sure to visit one of those unpretentious small tea-shops called Chaayakkada or the omnipresent road side eateries called, Thattukada or a small scale restaurant, to experience a warmth you will not find in any sophisticated restaurant…….. and in such ordinary places you will find Pazhampori in a different shape. They usually serve the long Pazhampori, like the ones on the picture above, instead of the small diagonally or vertically sliced ones prepared at homes.
To recreate that at home, thinly slice a ripe plantain lengthwise and dip it in batter and deep fry in oil. You can make around 3-4 long ones from one ripe plantain.
If you travel by train, then you are sure to catch this variety almost at every platform. Get your wallet ready when you hear the quintessential railway platform jingle, “Chaaya…..kaappee…..pazhamporeee……..” The vendor will come wearing a mundu and shirt, carrying an aluminum tray filled with Pazhampori on his head, and a huge steel kettle with tea/coffee in his hand. As he fills that flimsy plastic glass with the steaming tea/coffee and grabs a couple of pieces of Pazhampori, you will also notice the wear and tear on his face, that hidden gaze in his eyes with an undertone of all the struggle he has been facing to make both ends meet!!!!