There are advantages and disadvantages to living in downtown outer-suburban capital city. It is countrified living, but the access to specialist products such as good cheeses, excellent olive oils etc is limited. I found out the other day that I can’t buy Bitter Lemon around here – there goes my Gin and Bitter Lemon. Is that out of fashion now?
What I am eternally grateful for, you don’t know how much, is the range of fruit and vegetables that are common in my area but not seen in the inner-suburban groceries and supermarkets where I used to live. Plantains. Mangoes all year. Pomelo. Mustard Greens. Chilli Leaves. Betel Leaves. Pea Eggplants. Apple Eggplants. Okra. Green Mangoes. FRESH PINEAPPLES FOR $1!! I could go on and on. This availability has radicalised our kitchen’s menu. Every trip I want to bow down to the owners of the Vietnamese grocery in particular. Total gratitude.
So today the dish is a quick curry of plantain, stir fried and then simmered in spices to make a Poriyal from Tamil Nadu in South India. It is very very delicious with some rice (mix with a little ghee and a pinch or two of poppy seeds), some sambar (plantain can be a bit dry in texture, so it is good to have it with a wet dish) and some chutney. Finish with some curd/yoghurt if you wish.
Similar dishes include Plantain Kari, Plantain Chips, Plantain Moar Kootu, Plantain in Tamarind Gravy (make this dish with plantain instead of eggplant in the recipe), Plantain Pulissery (make this dish with plantain instead of pineapple in the recipe), Carrot Poriyal, and Carrot and Bean Poriyal.
South Indian Plantain Curry | Vazhakkai Poriyal
1 plantain, peeled just before beginning to cook, finely chopped
1.5 cups water
0.5 tspn Indian red chilli powder
sea salt, to taste
1 Tblspn ghee or Indian light sesame oil
0.5 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 tspn urad Dal
1 Indian dried red chilli
pinch asafoetida powder
0.25 tspn turmeric – a pinch
6 – 8 curry leaves
Heat a pan with the ghee or oil, add the mustard seeds and when they have popped, add the urad dal and dried red chilli. When the dal begins to turn golden, add the asafoetida and turmeric powder. A few seconds later add the curry leaves and avoid their spluttering.
Add the diced plantains to the pan and saute, stirring constantly, for a minute.
Then add the water, red chilli powder and sea salt to taste, cover with a. lid and cook till soft, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and cook them till the water evaporates, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Great with sambar, chutney, and rice.