Baalekaayi Bhaji (Unripe Banana Bhaji)

Course : Curry
Serves: 1
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Preparation / Directions:

This is a very tasty, crunchy yet soft, salty snack widely made popular by Udipi restaurants. Unripe banana (BaaLe' Kaayi) is widely available the world over, and this simple, quick, dish can be prepared in minutes. Ingredients: 4-5 BaaLe' Kaayi (unripe, green bananas - firm and green), kadale' hittu (besan flour, chick pea flour), rice flour, hasi kharada pudi (red chile powder), 1/4 litter of cooking oil (groundnut oil or sunflower oil depends on individual preference), a small marble sized tamarind, salt to taste. Procedure: Take a bowl of water and soak the tamarind. Lightly squeeze the tamarind to make a weak solution of tamarind water. Take the green bananas, lightly peel the skin (optional, since many prefer to retain the skin which is very high in fibber content), cut the end tips. Make thin slices (about the thickness of a coin) lengthwise. Put the rectangular cut pieces in the tamarind solution (this solution prevents pieces from turning black). Take 150 gms of kadale' hittu (besan flour, chickpea flour) and 50 gms of rice flour (besan gives the color while rice flour gives the crispness). Add 1/2 teaspoon of red chile powder. Add a few drops of oil (to give a crunchy outer crust), add salt to taste and mix it with hand, adding water slowly. Stop adding water when it becomes a thick paste that drops as you take hand out of the bowl, but does not run-off the hand. Some people prefer to add paprika powder to get some "extra-hot" color but this is purely optional. Take oil in a BaNale' (kadaayi, wok), heat it on medium-low fire. After the oil is hot but not fuming (can also be tested by putting a drop of the mixed flour and seeing that it comes up to surface bubbling, within 1-2 seconds). Take the cut banana pieces from the tamarind solution, dip it in the pasty dough to cover it fully and then slide them into the BaNale'. At this stage the dough's consistency can be checked. If it is too thick, the pieces dot get covered well and if too thin, dough runs off leaving the pieces exposed. At least 4 or 5 of them can be put in one round. Allow them to fry, turn around, till they are deep brown in color. Take them out, serve them with coconut chutney. The unique taste of BaaLe` kaayi (raw plantain/banana) has a sweetish hint. It is an excellent vegetarian equivalent to the fish fingers, both in consistency and taste. It is very popular in the rainy season. Useful hints: The same procedure can be used to make bhaji from a variety of other vegetables. Some of the popular vegetables for bhaji are - onion (cut in circular pieces), potato (again cut circularly), DoNNa MeNasina Kaayi (green pepper), Heere' Kaayi (ripple gourd available in Indian/Chinese stores), large green chiles (MeNasina kaayi bhaji) which are very popular in rural areas, several American gourds. Even greens can be used to make bajji, the most popular being sappaseege' soppu (Dil - available in most supermarkets), and menthyada soppu (Methi leaves). The greens must be washed, dried, cut and directly Courtesy: K. Rag

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