After a pretty long gap it's fritters again but with banana blossoms. I had wanted to post about mini apple pies but they didn't turn out photogenic. Nevertheless they were consumed with vanilla ice-cream. And I'm glad I made just a few with left-over pastry dough I had in the fridge. So when my husband came back from a trip to the ol' hometown I was delighted with the haul of pumpkin, ash gourd, eggplants, green papayas, bamboo shoots and chillies!
Apart from our pungent chutneys, another popular way of using banana flowers is making them into fritters. This is time-consuming as you have to clean each floret by removing the pistil and the papery calyx. You can see the process of cleaning in the pictures below. But the result is absolutely worth it. First the red bracts are removed. Not all banana flowers have red bracts. Some, depending on the variety, have cream-coloured (with a tinge of green) bracts.
Fresh flowers have bracts that are tightly enclosed. To make this job easier, take the banana flower and turn it upside down. Give the tip a hard thwack on your chopping board/counter top. This will loosen the bracts and it will be easy to remove them.
From each bract, remove the florets. Take each floret and remove the pistil and the papery calyx. Set the cleaned ones aside.
When you get to the bracts where the pistil is still tender, you can use the entire 'heart' without discarding anything. It's unpleasant to have to remove a hard pistil from a cooked dish but with tender ones, one can't tell.
1 banana flower (cleaning process described above)
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 large onion
A few chopped chillies
1 piece of ginger
Salt to taste
About a quarter tsp baking powder
Oil to fry
If you want you could place the florets in a bowl of acidic water so that that they do not turn dark. In my case I didn't do this as the frying would brown them anyway. For this recipe I used a single blossom. The 'heart' was halved and boiled with the rest of the florets.
Heat enough water in a pan and let it come to a boil. Add the cleaned florets and the 'heart' if using.
Boil for a few minutes and remove. Drain in a colander.
After the florets are drained, transfer them to a plate. Use a potato masher and mash into a rough mix. Set aside. I got 11/4 cup of mashed florets.
Peel and finely chop one onion. Chop a few green/red chillies and a thumb-sized piece of ginger.
Add some chopped herbs. I used a small bunch of serrated coriander and set some aside for the garnish.
Add all the above to the mashed florets.
Add 1/2 cup of besan/chickpea flour. There is no need to add any water as there is enough moisture in the mix.
Add the baking powder and season with salt. Mix well.
Make small balls of the mixture. If you like you can flatten them too.
Heat enough oil in a kadhai to fry the fritters.
Add a few at a time on a medium flame turning twice/thrice so that the fritters are evenly cooked. A high flame will brown them easily and the centre might remain raw.
Remove the cooked fritters with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper-lined plate.
Garnish with chopped herbs.
There are only a few additions in these fritters but the taste from the onions and ginger, the herbs and chillies is enough. The ginger which was freshly harvested had a zing that seemed better than other times.:)
We like to have these fritters with rice, dal and another vegetable dish. Which is why a sauce is not necessary. However if you want to serve this as a snack, a dhania/pudina chutney tastes goes really well.