Bananas, bought in a bunch, (no, we were not panicking, they just looked all lovely and firm) are no shrinking violets when they are overripe. They can become mushy and stink, prompting people to throw them away. The lockdown, however, seems to have left the world with far more overripe bananas than we bargained for, and the Internet is flooded with recipes for cakes and “bread” (a fancy name for loaf cake) featuring the fruit.
Google Trends recently listed banana bread as its most searched recipe during the lockdown. But Indian cuisine is replete with ideas that use the plantain from — leaf and flower to stem and fruit — in a variety of ways.
“The best way to use overripe bananas is to sun-dry them,” says chef Regi Mathew, co-owner and Culinary Director of Kappa Chakka Kandhari, a popular Kerala cuisine restaurant in Chennai and Bengaluru that started with friends, John Paul and Augustine Kurian. “In traditional Kerala recipes, we cook the sun-dried bananas and have it with honey and grated coconut. We can also make halwa with dehydrated bananas,” he says.
Here are some other ways to use this overripe bananas with elan:
Kolar bora: For this popular Bengali snack, mix the pulp of two overripe bananas with coconut, 250 grams of maida, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, fennel seeds, a pinch of salt, two tablespoons of powdered sugar and around ¾ cup of water to form a thick batter. Deep fry small balls of the batter on a medium flame until golden brown.
- Serves: Two people
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cooking Time: 20 mins
- 1 cup wheat flour
- 3/4 cup mashed ripe banana mashed -3/4 cup [Robusta or Palayamkodan are the best]
- 1 1/2 tbsp jaggery
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- Powdered sea salt to taste
- 1/4 cup water
- Oil to apply on the tawa
- Mix wheat flour, mashed ripe banana, jaggery, grated coconut and sea salt to make a loose dough. Divide this dough into two equal portions. Heat the pan, tawa and apply some oil on it and spread one portion of the dough into a thick pancake. Cook on slow flame for five-six minutes till it turns brown. Once it is cooked, flip it over and cook the other side for another five-six minutes on a slow flame. You may wish to cover the pancake with a lid. Serve hot with a drizzle of honey.
- Recipe by chef Regi Mathew
Mangalore buns: In this Udupi speciality, bananas are added to puri dough for a fluffy tea-time snack. Knead two cups of wheat flour with a pinch of baking soda, three tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of ghee, half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, with two tablespoons of curd and one mashed overripe banana, with enough water to form a firm dough. Add more flour if required, and portion out the dough into small balls. Cover and rest the balls for two hours before rolling them out into puris and deep-frying them. Serve with chutney of choice.
Banana sheera: Commonly made for prayer ceremonies, this sweet borrows elements of kesari (sooji halwa). Lightly roast one cup of semolina (aka rava or sooji), in three tablespoons of ghee or oil until fragrant. Add two chopped ripe bananas and stir well. Pour in 2.5 cups of hot water or milk, taking care to stir the mixture evenly without lumps. Cook for a few minutes until the halwa leaves the sides of the pan. Add saffron and garnish with dried fruits of choice.
Kele ki sabzi: This is a savoury way to use up ripe bananas in a jiffy. Temper mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida in oil, and add one and a half bananas cut into roundels. Stir lightly, and then add chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders, to taste. Season with sugar and salt and cook for two minutes on a medium flame. Serve immediately with rotis.