Vegetables don't really need much done to them in order to taste good. Most of the veggie sides that my mom cooks are easy to make, subtly spiced and are more about showcasing the flavor of the vegetable. Lesser ingredients mean lesser prep time and this is something that is common in almost all regional cuisines.
I'm cooking many more proper meals these days, not many experimental salads or cereals for dinner now :D In the process, when I run out of ideas I ask my mom and mil for their recipes for certain vegetables and try them out. Though both our families are from the same state, our meals could not have been more different. The cooking methods, the daily meal format and the choice of spices are all different. So there is a lot more variety to choose from now. I've decided to explore the two styles and will continue to share these family recipes with you here.
Having moved to San Diego, I have access to a well stocked Indian grocery store and I am thankful for it since the Indian restaurant scene is pitiful. I found some good raw plantains on my last trip to the store, and this simple stir fry is one of my favorites ways to cook it. The least time consuming too. Green Plantains are not raw banana's but a variety in themselves. Ripe plantains are used to make desserts, but the unripe ones are what I prefer to cook with. They can be turned into scrumptious chips, sauteed with basic seasonings, or steamed and seasoned with mustard, cumin, grated coconut, curry leaves and a squeeze of lime. More about the last one in a future post.
Aratikaya Vepudu/ Sautéed Green Plantains
- 2 nos - Green Plantains
- 1 Tbsp - Vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp ea - turmeric powder, mustard & cumin seeds
- a pinch of Asafoetida/hing
- 1/2 tsp - Urad dal
- 1/2 tsp - Red chilli powder
- a few curry leaves
- Salt to tasteMethod:
- Peel the thick green outer skin of the plantain using a peeler or slice with a knife. Cut it in half and then slit lengthwise. Continue to slice them into thin half moons. I like the stir-fry to be crunchy, else dice the plantain into cubes. Soak the pieces in water to prevent discoloration.
- Heat oil in a wide sauté pan, add the asafoetida and turmeric powder. Immediately add drained plantain slices and stir to coat them with the oil.
- Sprinkle salt and let them cook undisturbed for a 2-3mins on medium flame before tossing and cooking again for a couple more minutes. If the pan gets too dry sprinkle some water and cook uncovered.
- Once the plantain pieces brown evenly and crisp up a bit, season them with chilli powder. Take care to avoid hitting the pan directly with the chilli powder.
- In a separate pan, heat a little oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin and torn curry leaves. When they start to splutter add them to the plantains and serve as a side for rice and sambar/rasam/daal.Note: I like this stir-fry to be crunchy, but if you prefer a more softer texture dice the plantain in cubes as opposed to slices. This will take a little longer to cook, so sprinkle some water and cook them covered for a few minutes so they become tender.For a variation, roast some channa dal, red chillies, coriander seeds and fresh coconut. Coarsely powder this and add in the final few minutes of cooking. If the dish is too dry sprinkle some water so the spices can stick to the vegetable. This powder can also be used with potatoes and brinjals.
This is one the simplest methods to cook raw plantains. The crunchy bits are my favorite bites. I made the rookie mistake of starting with the tadka in the pan and cooking the plantains in it, and that caused the black bits of urad dal you see in the photos above. I still enjoyed them, but please don't do the same mistake :) I served this with one the best bitter gourd dishes, my mom's kakarakaya pitla. Its a sambar style dish cooked with freshly ground spices that create a perfect harmony along with the bitterness of the gourd.