Last week, my post on Avocado Chutney got Freshly Pressed! I was overjoyed and anxious, all at the same time. For all of you who visited this space and liked what they read, a BIG Thank You and a warm welcome!:-)
Starbucks: a cup of joy & a hint of guilt
I am not employed by Starbucks nor related to them in any form, living or dead. These are the personal views of someone who has spent a lot of guilt $ here over the past decade.
I know there are lots of people out there who’ll probably stop reading this post right about now as they are about to realize: I ♥ my latte! What’s the fuss about anyway? Could it be that extra buck I spend here vs. the not-so-glitzy local café? Or is it that bright smile from the lady over the counter at 9 am, when you wish you were in your pajamas snoozing but you’ve just about managed to drag yourself to work? Or that extra attention you get when they know exactly what you want from a mile away? Perhaps, the warm and earthy ambiance draws me to itself, giving me a dreamy sense of ‘coffee in the woods’. Or their effort to more than make up for something they’ve grossly messed up! I don’t have the answer, but there’s something about that cozy space which gives me a cup of joy!
I am not all that naive. I do a reality check every now and then. The verdict is out. One latte a week. Two, if I’ve done a good deed during the week.
But, how do I avoid the other twenty seven times I see the twin-tailed mermaid looking back at me? Inviting me for my cup of joy? I am determined. But, as days go by, my determination fades. I miss the Siren and the warmth and joy she brings…
I give in.
And history repeats itself… :)
Today’s recipe is a traditional recipe made in many homes across India – mainly in the states of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. I have made a couple of versions of this curry at home but this is my favorite! Raw Bananas / Plantains are boiled, mixed with spices, and made into table-tennis ball like shapes which are then deep-fried (known as kofta). Alternatively, they can be made into patties for a less-oil version. The curry is made with a combination of onion, tomato, ginger, garlic and dry spices together with almond paste for a subtle sweetness. The koftas are then soaked in the curry and with a little garnish, this dish is all yours to enjoy.
Raw Bananas and Plantains are used interchangeably by many. Both belong to the Banana family, though plantains are generally tougher and therefore take a little longer (up to 10 mins extra) to boil. I have used both and both work just fine.
Spiced Raw Banana Kofta (Kache Kele ka Kofta / Kachkolar Kofta):
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There are 3 steps to this recipe –:
I – Raw Banana / Plantain balls (koftas) OR raw banana patties/tikkis – The choice is YOURS!
II – Preparing the Curry
III – Serving this dish
(Makes about 10-12 koftas/tikkis/patties)
Step I – Raw Banana / Plantain Koftas / Patties:
(Makes 10-12 pcs)
Raw banana or Plantain – 2 pcs
Potato – 1 small-medium sized
Onion: 3/4 cup, finely chopped
Ginger: Grated 1 tbsp
Green chillies: 2 – chopped fine (adjust to your own spice tolerance level)
Chilli powder: 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
Aamchoor powder: 1 tsp (available in Indian stores)
Coriander powder: ½ tsp
Cumin powder: ½ tsp
Salt: to taste
Regular cooking oil: for deep frying koftas (a lot!) OR pan-frying patties/tikkis (2-3 tblsp in a non-stick pan)
How I did it:
- Cut each raw banana or plantain into 3 pcs – roughly 1.5″ – 2″ per pc, with the skin intact. Throw away the edges.
- Boil the raw bananas in a pot of water, almost covered with water. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric while boiling. Cover and let it boil on low-medium heat until done. Boil for approximately 25 mins and check. Pierce with a fork to check if it has softened. When it’s done, the fork should go through easily.
Plantain usually takes about 35-40 mins to boil as they are tougher whereas medium sized raw bananas should be done in 30 mins. They should be cooked soft but not mushy / overcooked.
- When done, run it through tap water so that it cools down. Remove skin. It should come off very easily.
- Meanwhile, boil 1 potato. Peel and keep it aside.
- In a deep bowl, mash the raw bananas using your fingers or a spoon. Add the boiled potato and mash it too. Ensure it is mashed well.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and combine together.
I love this dish and can’t wait for an occasion to have it! At the same time, the koftas are traditionally deep fried and that doesn’t suit my every day cooking. So, I make patties when I have it for regular meals. On special occasions, I make the deep fried koftas.
- To make the koftas, take table tennis ball sized portions of the above mixture in your palm. Give it an even round shape. Depending on the size of the bananas / plantains used, you can easily come up with 10-12 pcs.
- Next, heat sufficient oil in a deep dish or kadhai to deep-fry the koftas.
Make sure the oil is hot before you start frying. You may need to heat the oil on medium heat for up to 2 mins. Put only 1 pc at first to make sure the koftas don’t break while frying. If you feel that the banana mixture is too mushy, you can add 1-2 tbsp of besan (chickpea flour) in the mixture to bind it. To avoid the koftas from sticking to one another, space out putting the koftas by 30 seconds so that they are a little fried before the next one comes in. Do not overcrowd the kadhai / frying pan.
For Patties (Tikkis):
- To make raw banana patties, take the same portion of the banana mixture as for the kofta (a table tennis ball size). Make a nice round at first and flatten it. Use your palm and fingers to give it an even patty-like shape.
- In a non-stick pan, heat 2-3 tblsp of oil. Add the patties and let it cook on low heat until cooked. Turn over to make sure it is cooked / browned on both sides
Step II – Preparing the Curry:
Cinnamon : 1 thin stick
Bay leaves: 2 small
Cardamom: 2-3 (pods only)
Whole black pepper: 6
Any cooking oil: 2 tblsp
Almonds: 7-8 pcs soaked for at least 10 mins in hot water. Remove skin. Add a little bit of water to grind to a thick but smooth paste.
Onion: 1 cup – Finely chopped (1 medium sized)
Ginger paste: 1 tblsp
Garlic paste: 1 tblsp
Tomatoes: 1 medium sized – Ground to a paste.
Green chillies – 2 whole (optional)
Salt: to taste
In a bowl, make a thick paste of the following dry spices by adding very little water:
Coriander powder: ½ tsp
Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder (optional): 1/4 tsp
How I did it :
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai. Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom pods and whole black pepper. Fry for about 30-40 secs on low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Add chopped onions. Fry on low-medium heat until brownish.
- Add ginger and garlic paste. Fry for another 1-2 mins, until combined well. If it starts to stick on the bottom, sprinkle a little bit of water and scrape it off, blending it into the masala.
- Add the thick spice paste prepared with coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric & chilli. Continue frying for another 2 mins.
- Add the tomato paste and salt. Fry until the tomatoes are fully cooked and the masala becomes a lumpy mass, darker in color than how it started. It should also look glossy as the oil starts to surface on the masala. (approx 12 mins on low heat).
- Add the almond paste and continue for another 5 mins. The almond paste should have combined well with the rest of the masalas and the favors integrated well to make our curry.
- Once you have achieved that, add about 400 ml of water (preferably, boiling water as it speeds up the cooking process). Once the curry starts boiling, cover and let it boil on low-medium heat for another 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Check for salt and spices. At this point, you can add the whole green chillies, if you wish. The curry should be thicker in consistency at the end of this process.
- Turn off the heat.
Step III – Serving this dish:
Ingredients for Garnishing:
Red chillies: 1. Remove seeds and cut in thin strips
Fresh cream: 2-3 tsp
Coriander leaves chopped: a handful
How I did it:
- Start preparing to serve this dish about 10-15 mins prior to actual serving. Use a serving dish that is flat so that the koftas can be placed without overcrowding.
- In the serving dish, place the koftas/tikkis/patties.
- Heat the curry prepared above to make sure it is piping hot! Turn off the heat.
- Pour the hot curry over the kofta. Be careful not to spill over as the curry should be very hot at this point. Make sure that the koftas are almost submerged in the curry. Let the koftas soak for at least 10-15 mins, covered.
- If you find the dish is not warm enough when you are ready to eat, microwave it for 1-2 mins immediately after soaking.
- Once the soaking is complete, garnish with fresh cream and thin strips of de-seeded red chillies. Alternatively, you could garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- Enjoy the koftas with steamed rice.
Too little soaking and the curry doesn’t go inside the koftas. Too much soaking and you’ll have very crumbly koftas. Therefore, the process of serving this dish is very important to make sure you serve the the koftas that you’ve worked so hard to make!
If the bananas were boiled nice and soft, soak them for 10 mins before serving. If bananas feel hard after you’ve mashed and made your koftas, soak for up to 20 mins before serving.