Banana and Onion Sabzi

There’s this guy in my office – the office boy. He is a simple minded chap who insists, absolutely insists on opening doors every time I need to go out. When nature calls, he opens the door, patiently waits at the door, and then opens the door when he hears me coming. He also considers it his right to pack away the laptop, stuff my bag [rucksack actually] with the little knick knacks which techies invariably burden themselves with and then carry it down to the car. When I’m in, he *always* folds his hands and says ‘namaste’, keeping his hands folded and posture bent, till I respond. For those of you who aren’t Indian, ‘namaste’ is the traditional equivalent of ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. I’ve tried requesting, chastising, explaining, yelling – nothing works – he continues opening doors, carrying bags and the rest of that.

One Sunday, I received a call. It was him. He had remembered the previous day [saturday] that he forgot to say ‘namaste’ on Friday COB. It apparently troubled him the whole of saturday, till he just had to call me on Sunday and profusely apologise for his mistake. We normally make fun of such people. We call them mentally challenged or something equivalent. I’ve seen him troubled, angry, sad and happy – but never scheming, cruel, malicious or cunning. Even though it takes me 20 minutes to explain something to him that my 5 year old would understand in 2, I think I’d prefer him anyday.

Since I came home pretty much frazzled out today, a simple meal was on the cards. That usually means rice or chappatis with something. Something depends on whats in the fridge. Green bananas. If you haven’t used green bananas before, they can be pretty tough to peel. Two choices here. One, coat the tips of your fingers with a little oil, make a slit down the middle of each banana and peel with your fingers. Two, chop the skin off with a knife. I suggest #2, even though there is a little additional wastage. Thats because if the oil wears off your fingers, you’ll end up with a stain on your hands and nails that won’t go away from 2 days to a week or more. Also, your fingertips pain like hell!

Go cook! You’ll need:

Banana and Onion Sabzi
  • Six green [unripe] bananas
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 – 3Dry red chillies
  • Curry leaves [handful]
  • 2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2 Green chillies
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Peel and cut the bananas anyway you like. I chose to chop them into discs.
  2. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of turmeric over them and shake till all the banana pieces are coated.
  3. Keep aside for 20 minutes. Then deep fry till nearly crisp. They’ll rasp when you lightly take them out of the oil and put them back in. Set aside.
  4. In the meanwhile, chop the onions, again – any way you like. Slit the green chillies lengthwise.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. When hot, add the mustard. Should crackle.
  6. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, the dry red chillies, curry leaves and the green chillies. Stir once.
  7. Add the onions. Stir fry till soft and transparent.
  8. Add the fried bananas. Toss well.
  9. At this point, if you want it totally dry, take it off the heat. Otherwise add a few spoons of water and toss so the water coats everything. A little is absorbed and the rest evaporates. I like it this way.
  10. Serve hot with rotis.

Tip: Adjust the seasonings accordingly and you can make this a gravy (thin) and serve with rice. Tastes good that way too!

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.