Vazhakkai Kootu (Raw Banana Curry)

Another recipe from the Tirunelveli region of Thamizhnadu. This time, a curry using raw bananas. Raw banana is never used in North Indian cuisine. But I do buy it every week as it is one of my favourite vegetables. Since North India is bereft of it, there are no recipes from this region. So, I invariably fall back upon the South Indian recipes that I know. These include podimas, thoran, mezhukkuperatti and some kootans (wet dishes to be mixed with rice). I also make raw banana vadai (like cutlets) or kurkure (mashed and coated with ground beaten rice). So, there are several dishes that you can prepare with this tasty and versatile vegetable. But I have never heard of raw banana kootu (a slight moist curry preparation). So, I was intrigues and decided to try it. Needless to say, it was so good that I now have one more raw banana recipe to add to my repertoire


Tirunelveli Vazhakkai Kootu

3-4 raw bananas (depending upon size), chopped
1/4 lid coconut, grated
1 tbsp split Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
A small ball of tamarind, juice extracted (approximately 2 tsp of the extract)
2 tsp sambar powder (see under “Chutneys and Powders” in this blog for recipe)
1 sprig curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
Unrefined salt to taste
Cook the Bengal gram is a saucepan with 1/2 a cup of water
When the gram is half done, add the raw bananas
Add asafoetida, tamarind extract, turmeric powder and sambar powder
Mix well
Meanwhile, roast the grated coconut until it is slightly browned
Add this to the kootu (raw banana mixture)
Cook until the bananas are tender, but whole
The end product should have very little moisture in it, but it should not be dry
Remove from flame and set aside
Heat a small wok and add the mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves
Roast for a few seconds and add this to the kootu
Serve with steamed red/brown/millet rice

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