Banana Puri... Have you ever wondered how that name came about? I mean, considering that they have no bananas in them, nor do they even faintly resemble a banana!
These fragile fried beauties are made of hundreds of layers of light as air pastry. Made, by layering thinly rolled out dough with ghee in between. After frying, they are left on a thick wad of paper for a day or two, until every last drop of oil has drained out. Once drained, they become beautifully crisp and feather light. They are then drizzled with some sugar syrup and decorated with pistachios or almond slivers.
When I made these last week, I knew that I that I wanted to do something a little bit different with them. Going through my note book, I came across an old Indian chaat recipe of my Mom's, that I hadn't made in a while, and I thought, why not? Since this chaat is usually served with some crisp puris anyway, I decided to experiment...Aaaaand I loved it!
For the pastry, you will need:
2 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon solid ghee
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup cold water
For layering, you will need:
1/2 - 3/4 cup melted ghee
1/2 cup cornflour
You will also need:
Flavorless vegetable oils for deep frying
Sift all the dry ingredients together. Rub in the ghee until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.combine the milk and water in a jug. Gradually add the milk/water until a stiff dough is formed. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth. Cover with some plastic wrap and set aside for half an hour. Unwrap the dough and knead again. Divide into 6 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface, until it is really thin. (about 1mm) Generously brush 1 round with some ghee, ensuring that no part of the dough has not been covered with the ghee. Sprinkle with some cornflour, and place another round of dough on top. Brush this layer with ghee, dust with cornflour, and continue to layer until all 6 layers are piled up. Do not brush any ghee on this layer. Roll out the layered dough into a large, thin rectangle. Ensure that the bottom of the dough is well floured, to prevent sticking. Now spread the top with some ghee, again be generous and ensure that the entire surface is covered. Sprinkle with some cornflour, and starting at the bottom short end, roll up into a
swissroll. Do not roll too tightly, as the layers will not puff up. Wrap the entire roll in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour.
Place a thick layer of newspaper on a large baking sheet. Cover with several sheets of paper towel.
Heat the oil in a deep pot. I don't use a very large pot, since I prefer to fry the puris one at a time, but ensure that your pot is large enough to allow the pastry to puff up.
Slice the swissroll into 2cm thick slices. Press down gently on each slice. The layers should be visible on the sides. Then, using a rolling pin,lightly roll out into long fingers. (To about 3mm thick). Heat the oil over a medium heat. Place the banana puri in the oil, and using a fork, gently prise the layers open. Fry until it is a very pale gold on one side, then carefully flip over and fry the other side.Drain in a colander for a few minutes, before transferring to the paper towel lined tray. Continue until all the pastries have been fried. Cover the banana puris with a few sheets of paper towel, and leave to drain for a few days. I leave mine for two days. You may need to replace the oil soaked paper with some fresh paper after a day.
For the Syrup, you will need:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan, and bring to a boil over low heat. Do not stir! Simmer for about 15 -20 minutes, until the syrup has thickened slightly. set aside to cool.
Place the pastries on a serving plate, and drizzle each one with a tablespoon or two of syrup. Sprinkle with pistachios, or almonds. Serve...
3 medium potatoes
1/2 cup frozen corn
salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 green chillies, thinly sliced
6-8 curry leaves
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Boil the potatoes in their jackets,until tender. Steam the corn. When potatoes are done, remove the skins and cut up into 1cm cubes. Place in a large bowl. add the steamed corn. Season with salt. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the remaining ingredients. Fry until the mustard seed stop spluttering. Pour over the potato and corn mixture. Stir gently to coat. Set aside.
You will also need:
A handful of baby tomatoes, halved
A handful of chopped coriander leaves
A handful mint leaves
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
4 tablespoons thick Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup sev
1 tablespoon chaat masala (I used the Shan brand)
Tamarind sauce (see below)
For the Tamarind sauce, you will need:
1/2 cup store bought tamarind paste
2 teaspoons sugar
A pinch of salt
A squeeze of lemon juice
Stir everything together.
For the coriander chutney, you will need:
1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup white vinegar
5 green chillies
1 tablespoon dessicated coconut
salt to taste
In a blender, liquidise everything together.
Place the Banana puri on a plate. (You will need 1 per person) Top with the potato mixture. Layer with the tomatoes, coriander, mint leaves and pomegranate seeds. Place a dollop of yoghurt over each puri. Sprinkle with the sev and the chaat masala. Serve with the tamarind sauce and the coriander chutney. Serve at once.
NOTE: Sev is a vermicelli-like crisp fried chickpea flour (gram flour) snack. You can buy this at specialist Indian grocers or sweet shops.