One of my enduring memories of Kerala is the proliferation of freshly cooked plantain chips – delicious deep fried slices of raw banana, crispy and salty. Even when I was staying in Mylapore in Chennai, the wallah was making huge woks-full of fresh plantain chips right there on the street, so you’d get them straight from the pan.
They can be made at home of course – quite easily in fact. Just like the street wallahs, you can slice the plantain right into the hot oil if it is safe to do so. Otherwise slice them onto a plate and add to the oil. As they cook the flavourings are added to the layer of chips, or they can be salted as they come out of the pan. Madhur Jaffrey also adds curry leaves and green chilli to the oil before removing the chips – the oil does erupt a bit when you do this so I often leave it out. You can add chilli powder to the chips as they come out of the oil if you wish.
2 green plantains
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
0.25 tspn asafoetida
1.25 tspn sea salt
oil for deep frying (coconut oil can be used for authentic flavours of Kerala)
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
15 – 20 fresh curry leaves (optional)
Combine the turmeric, asafoetida, salt and 2 tspn water in a small cup.
Peel the plantains with a knife or peeler, removing all of the skin.
Heat the oil until hot. If safe to do so, use the mandolin to thinly slice the plantain directly into the hot oil. If it is not safe, slice onto a plate and add to the oil. The slices must be thin. Make just enough to make one slightly overlapping layer on the top of the oil. Quickly dip your fingers into the turmeric solution and sprinkle whatever liquid your fingers pick up over the chips.
Stir and fry for 1 – 2 minutes, turning the chips about half way through the cooking time. Optionally add 2-3 of the curry leaves and a pinch of chopped green chilli, fry for a few more seconds and then remove the chips with a slotted spoon.
The chips should remain yellow in colour. Drain on kitchen paper towels. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt.
Repeat for the remaining plantains.
Leave to cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
recipe notes and alternatives
You can also sprinkle with Indian chilli powder.
If you want sweet and salty chips, add some white sugar to the spice solution.