Plantains and green bananas are deceptively similar, with special emphasize on the word “deceptively”. I tell you why?
Eons ago on a bright summer day, me and my roommate decided to venture into our local vegetable market, both of us in our late teens, and it was very first time we actually went to the market all by ourselves to buy anything, without the guidance of our parents. Well, they said “do it right the first time” and so when we spotted an old lady selling huge clump of green bananas, we immediately asked for the price and as a pro shopper we even bargain over the price, just the way we observed our parents doing it so many times while buying anything from the market. The simple rule was to never pay the same amount as asked by the shopkeeper, one must always bargain for the price, however that may lower by few paise even ! That’s how the markets in Asia runs.
So, coming back to our green banana buying story, we enthusiastically bought half a dozen green bananas, split the cost between us and happily went back to our hostel. Bananas are perhaps the cheapest fruit available in the country, and is available all through out the year, so in short even if you can not stomach the pathetic food served in the hostels, you will never go hungry. Like an unwritten law of hostels, seniors do keep a tab on all the newbies and when the news reached their ears, they immediately came to inspect our purchases. We immediately showcased them our prized possession and then….By this time you must have guessed it what would might had happened next. The news spread like a wildfire and soon our tiny room was thronged by the hostelers. But me and my roommate did not lost all hope, our fingers were crossed that may be the next day it will ripe enough to be eaten like fruit. Google was in its infancy in those days, so without any help from anywhere, we waited and waited…
Moral of the story is that always buy the plantain from the vegetable vendor, the fruit sellers don’t stock it. In case if you are in doubt just check the tenderness of the skin. Plantain skin will be tough while green banana skin will be tender and peel-able. If this is not helpful enough then better, you keep the detailed botanical morphology of the two with you.
Plantains are starchy vegetable and can not be eaten raw. But wait, here we are not talking about the plantain, we are talking about its skin or peels. Do you eat the plantain skins? It may come as a surprise to many, but plantain skins does makes very palatable dish, and this recipe just emphasize that.
All you have to do is to cut the skin of the plantain, soak them in salt water for few minutes and then just boil them till it becomes tender. Blend it in the mixer along with grated coconut, poppy-seed paste and lots of green chillies. Modern days gadgets does makes life easier, but the puritan will argue that it lost its edge over the yesteryear ‘sil -nora’, a kind of grinding stone still in use in most of the Bengali households. Well, everything taste better when you sweat over it !
Important point to note – the modern agricultural practices ensues that the vegetable skins are generously sprayed with pesticides, so if you are using the skin of the vegetables, then wash it several times with water, or else use only organic plantain if available for this recipe.
USP – Plantain skins are rich in many minerals and nutrients, and this is a good way to add more fibre into the diet. You can also make it zero oil recipe if you prefer so.
- Plantain skin / peel (Kancha kala'r khosa) : skin from four plaintains
- Grated coconut : ½ cup
- Posto bata / Poppy seed paste : 2-3 tbsp
- Green chillies : 5-6 or more the merrier
- Kalonji / Nigella seeds / kalo jeera : 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil : 2 tsp
- Wash and cut the plantain skin. In a deep bottom vessel, add a pinch of salt and boil the skin till it become slightly tender. Do not over boil it. It will lost its punch.
- Cool it off and blend it in mixer with chopped green chillies, grated coconut, posto bata or poppy seed paste, a pinch of salt.
- Add very little water, may be two tablespoon water just enough to set the mixer blades in motion.
- Pulse them for few seconds and keep checking its consistency.
- Since I dont like the smooth paste, hence I pulse it little coarsely.
- In a pan heat one teaspoon of mustard oil to its smoking point.
- Temper the oil with kalonji or nigella seeds and add the plantain mash to it.
- Lightly saute it till the water evaporates and the rawness disappear, check for the salt.
- Once it is done to your desired consistency, remove from the heat and serve immediately.
- If you are not averse to the smell of raw mustard oil, then just before serving add a teaspoon of raw mustard oil over it and serve it with steaming hot rice.
While boiling the skin in water, add few drops of oil in the water, it will not leave the stain in the pan.
If you want, you can do the entire process in hand grinder for better taste.
You can also serve this as a dip with tortilla chips or like.