Pazham pori or ethakka appam are traditional sweet plantain fritters popular in and around Kerala. Learn how to easily make this addictive tea-time snack.
This summer, when we planned our trip back home to India, I went with the best of intentions. I would dazzle everyone with my exotic treats, use those 2+ months to work with traditional ingredients, and what not. Well, you know what they say about well-laid plans!
You know how moms are. They spoil you silly. And mine is this superwoman when it comes to cooking and chores. I kid you not when I say that the day’s cooking would be 90% complete before I even got out of bed.
Still, I did manage a few culinary exploits. Anyway, we had the best time ever. Picking chilies and eggplant everyday from mom’s garden, getting organic homegrown ‘gifts’ from the neighbors, watching Boy digging up weeds and worms with grandpa, catching up with old friends, watching my kid make friends with my friends’ kids, and most importantly, revisiting my favorite snacks.
Indians generally love to snack, no matter the season or region. Bhajji, samosa, vade, pakore (or pakode), the ubiquitous chaat and all sorts of deliciously yummy things are what we crave. Most of them are to be deep-fried and enjoyed piping hot so that they are crisp and simply awesome.
One such delightful snack comes from Kerala and is called ‘pazham pori‘ or ‘ethakka appam‘. Both pazham and ethakka refers to the ripe, sweet plantains used in this recipe.
Simply put, pazham pori are deep-fried plantain fritters best enjoyed with a hot cup of chai. Or coffee, if that’s your preferred potion.
Tea time is almost sacred in India. You better not miss it. You could be at home, at a friend’s home, in the office or out and about on the streets. But you will always be offered a hot cup of tea and something toothsome to go with it. In Kerala, there are several snacks made with bananas and plantains, the most famous of which are these fritters.
Freshly fried, these plantain fritters are simply irresistible. There have been several instances of burned fingertips and tongues whenever pazham pori gets made at home, it’s that good! I always shy away from fried snacks at home, but seeing Boy enjoy them immensely, I give in to our impulses more often nowadays. And we couldn’t be happier! Food really should satisfy your soul too.
The pazham pori recipe is very simple. Choose the ripest plantain, cut it into strips (or coins), prepare the batter, dip and fry. It’s not rocket science.
The plantains that we get here in the States are usually very under-ripe. Just leave them out on the countertop for a few days or wrap them in brown paper to speed up the ripening process. The batter is similar to a pancake batter made with all-purpose flour and a little bit of rice flour to make it crispy.
- All-purpose flour - 1¼ cups
- Rice flour - ¼ cup
- Sugar - 1½ tbsp
- Salt - ¼ tsp
- Baking soda - a scant pinch (not more, see notes)
- Turmeric powder - ¼ tsp (for color, optional)
- Water - 1 - 1¼ cups (or as needed)
- Ripe plantains - 2
- Oil - to deep fry
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add enough water to make a smooth, slightly thick batter. Set aside.
- Peel the plantains and cut them in half. Cut each half into strips. You will be able to make 4 strips, getting 8 slices from each plantain. Alternately, you can cut the plantain into thick coins.
- Take oil in a kadai or deep, thick-bottomed pan. The oil should shimmer (not smoke) before frying the fritters. Do a test by dropping some batter into it. If it rises to the top, the oil is ready.
- Dip a slice of plantain in the batter to coat it on all sides and gently drop into the oil. Drop 2-3 slices if you have a biggish pan, but not more.
- Fry them on medium heat till golden brown. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Serve hot with tea or coffee.
2. Choose very ripe plantains for making pazham pori. Some folks do not add any sugar to the batter, but I like to add a little bit.
3. Do not add more baking soda, it will only make the fritters literally 'drink up' the oil.
4. Turmeric powder is entirely optional. My mom never adds any, but I do sometimes for color.
5. This batter is eggless and keeps in the refrigerator for a day if you are unable to fry them right away.
We will be indulging in these traditional snacks more often, now that the evenings are deliciously cooler and comfort food is definitely the way to go. Do try these Kerala pazham pori or plantain fritters with your next cup of chai!
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Feeling indulgent? Check out these delicious snacks next.
- Sweet-Potato Bhajji.
- Chicken Cutlets (Indian Spiced Chicken Croquettes).
- Amritsari Fish Fry.
- Masala Vada.
- Keema Cutlets (Indian Minced Meat Croquettes).
- Mini Samosa Pies.
- Cabbage & Onion Pakoda.
So, tell me, have you had these fritters before? What are your favorite homemade snacks? Do share.
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