Banana Chips of Kerala (Plantain Chips)
Posted on April 7, 2015 by Viji
Nothing compares to the ‘Banana Chips of Kerala’. It could be the coconut oil in which the slices of bananas are fried that makes the difference, the banana itself, or maybe both. It could very well be the ‘red’ soil in which these are grown, that gives them such unique taste. Whatever it is, once you taste these chips (when they are still warm), you will never be satisfied with any store-bought ones!
For Maanas and Navya, the best part of their India trip has always been “Ammamma’s (my mom) fresh warm B-chips”. B-chips – that’s what they call these delicious chips of Kerala, elsewhere known as plantain chips. I have heard them say many times, “Ammamma makes the best B-chips in the world!” They could be right, for she makes the chips with plantains and coconuts from her own garden, all grown organically!
Bananas of Kerala, known as ‘plantains’ in many other parts of the world, are much larger and firmer than the ones used for baking banana breads or muffins. There are so many different ways to enjoy this wonderful fruit and its health benefits; when it’s raw as well as when it’s ripe. Making chips is just one of them. They also play a big role as baby food. The raw bananas are sliced, sundried and made into a fine powder, “banana flour”, which will then be cooked in water to be used as a baby food. The ripe ones steamed, mashed, and mixed with a little bit of ghee, make another excellent baby food. Apart from baby food, they are also used extensively in the delicious cuisine of Kerala. ‘Pazham Pori’ – the fritters made using these bananas when they are ripe, is one of the favorite tea time snacks of Kerala… mine too.
Back to B-chips! Normally, we can play around with a recipe, change a few ingredients, and it will turn out great. But this is one recipe which doesn’t have any room for that. There is no substitute for fresh plantains or coconut oil.
The above four pictures were taken once when we were at my mom’s. If only we knew, we were going to have this blog, we could have taken pictures of my mom making it – that too on the traditional wood burning stove! The chips in this post are made with the plantains bought from our local grocery store.
- 6 fresh raw plantains ( not the variety used for baking banana bread or muffins)
- 500 ml of coconut oil ( used for cooking)
- 1 Tablespoon of salt mixed with half cup of water
- A sharp knife or a slicer
Heat oil in a heavy, wide, and deep pan, in medium heat. ( Traditionally done in “Uruli”; ‘kadai’ can also be used). Choose a size such that the oil fills up just half of the pan.
Make slits on the peel, just till the tip of the knife touches the plantain. With a slight push using the thumb, remove the peel. Peel all the plantains.
Slice one or two plantains very thin and spread them on a cutting board so that the slices don’t stick to each other.
Once the oil is hot (just about to start smoking, about 300°F), add just enough slices so as to form a single layer over the oil. Make sure the oil is not smoking hot; or else the chips will turn brown without getting crispy. Maintain medium heat throughout. As soon as the slices are added to the oil, stir them gently once. You can hear the oil sizzling. Now, gently add one or two spoons of the salt water to the oil and stir once again. The sizzling noise will be even more while adding the salt water. Be careful while adding the salt water as it could splash oil out if the pan is not wide and deep enough. You can switch off the heat while adding the salt water for a couple of seconds, just to be safe. Immediately bring the heat back up. Stir and turn the slices a couple of times. Once the color turns golden, and almost all the sizzling noise subsides, use a strainer, take the chips out, and place them on paper towels to remove the excess oil. Spread them on another paper towel to cool. They get crispier and a bit darker while cooling down.
While one set is getting fried, slice another plantain and keep it ready. Repeat till all the plantains are fried.
The chips taste the best when served warm. If you are planning to store for a couple of days, cool them completely before moving them to airtight containers. Enjoy within 2-3 days.
Munching them with a cup of coffee… priceless!
One more thing – there is something magical about these chips in our house. They never cool down. Instead they totally disappear… every single time.