Plantain Fritters/ Pazha Bajji
Plantain fritters/ Pazha Bajji (Tamil Nadu)/ Pazham Pori (Kerala) is simple and deliciously sweet snack however the South Indian way. It can be a perfect sweet and crispy snack to your evening tea or a dessert when served with a big glob of whipped cream or ice cream.
My recent visit to Central America (Amazon jungle) bears plentiful of fruits such as papayas, maracuya or passion fruit, chirimoya or custard apple and mangoes. Peruvians adore plantains and bananas among other fruits as its part of their everyday food. One can have these raw, boiled, grilled, thinly sliced and deep fried (called tajadas); or smashed and deep fried (called tostones). It accompanies almost every dish be it typical meat or fish.
Plantains belong to the Banana family however there are some differences. Plantains are starchier, contain less sugar than bananas and are much more versatile as a cooking ingredient as you can make both savory and sweet dishes with them. Both green plantains as well as ripe yellow plantains are used widely in South Indian and South American cuisines. Unlike bananas, plantains are typically cooked before consumption. In terms of nutritional value, both are high in potassium, magnesium and iron. Bananas however have higher antioxidants as compared to plantains. But plantains have less sugar and low on the glycemic index scale and hence good for diabetic patients. For some folks though, plantains can cause flatulence or gas.
I was reminded of my days in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) where I grew up snacking on the "Pazha Bajji" on sunday evenings. My mom learned to make these from her childhood Mallu friend as this recipe originated from Palakkad (Kerala) as "Pazham Pori". The actual recipe usually goes for the well ripened plantains or nendra pazham. I prefer the ripe ones but not the ones that gets mushy in order to keep the fritters in shape. Rice flour is added for crispness and turmeric is optional as it's used mainly for color.
Coconut oil is the healthiest oil for deep frying and will be your best choice overall. Studies have shown that even after 8 hours of continuous deep frying at 365°F (180°C), its quality does not deteriorate. Over 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. Saturated fats used to be considered unhealthy, but new studies show that they are a completely harmless source of energy for humans. Additionally, coconut oil has numerous health benefits. Please click here for an excellent article "28 Science-Verified Health Benefits of Coconut Oil" by Helen Nichols for more knowledge about coconut oil and its benefits.
As much as I love all the ways to eat bananas/ plantains, what I can't resist is these sweet fried plantain fritters. Enjoy with a piping hot tea or coffee or with whipped cream :)