My Grandmother’s Recipe
If you’re craving something not too sweet and delicious with your coffee or tea (chaa), this is the recipe for you. I won’t beat around the bush, but I struggled a little thinking of the best way to describe this to you. The puri is not, by all means, meant to be soft and fluffy like a beignet or doughnut. It is rather solid, moist and crunchy all at once. I ate these puris countless of times during my childhood. If I had to put a finger on it, I would say the banana puri to me is the equivalent of a doughnut to some, that is if we were talking about childhood nostalgic foods.
If you’re lucky enough, when you’re frying the puri’s they puff up into these balloon like disks, creating a hollow center. I love peeling away this layer and eating it first before polishing off the rest of the banana puri.
Making the dough is a lot of fun and easy. Although I do love mushing up the bananas, grabbing handfuls of the earthy dough to make the puris is always a treat, they feel grainy, moist and sticky. Reminding me of making mud pies in the rain…
Ripe bananas are a must in this recipe to achieve the caramelly crunchy texture or you may have to add more sugar, and I hate doing that – who needs more sugar in our diets… Heck we’re already deep frying these goodies!
3 ripe bananas
1 cup soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons ghee, melted
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups corn meal, maybe a little more
1 quart of canola oil, for frying
To Make the Banana Puri
With a fork, mash up the banana’s in a mixing bowl.
Add the sugar, ghee and a pinch of salt. Continue stirring until most of the sugar has dissolved.
Add the all purpose flour and cornmeal to the banana mixture to make a soft sticky dough.
If its too sticky you may need to add more cornmeal, a tablespoon at a time.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or deep fryer. (see note in Tips section below)
Make 4-inch round puris about a quarter inch thick and slide gently into the hot oil. Be careful not to splatter yourself. Before turning over the puri, slightly press in the center with the back of the spoon to encourage it to balloon out a little. Turn the patty over a few times during the cooking process. Let the puri brown evenly on both sides.
Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on a few layers of brown paper towels.
My paternal grandmother learned this recipe from the African street vendors in Malawi where she lived, before moving to Zimbabwe. My dad’s sister is a pro at making these puris and they taste soooo damn good when she makes them. According to my kids, my mum makes the best banana puri. I made a batch of banana puri’s for an afternoon treat a couple of days ago and their verdict was “It doesn’t taste like Naanima’s banana puri!”. They absolutely love my mum’s puri’s which are purely, a delicious addiction. I ate these crunchy delights countless of times growing up. I’d grab a couple on my wait out the kitchen, to do my homework. As I sat there munching away on the puris I’d daydream about… you guessed it … food! I should have been paying more attention to my algebra homework, except I would get distracted and page through the my mums cookbooks. I guess this explain a lot about me…
Ripe bananas are a must in this recipe to achieve the caramelly crunchy texture or you may have to add more sugar, and I hate doing that.
The banana puris are best eaten within a couple of days. After the first day, store in an airtight container. If you desire the crispness of the first day crunch, pop the puri into a toaster for a couple of minutes. That should do it.
Note on Frying: Pinch off a piece of dough and drop into the hot oil. If it rises to the surface of the oil after 5 seconds the oil is hot enough. The piece of dough will be a lighter shade of brown. If it the dough darkens too quickly turn down the heat a little. It may take a few tries to get the desired heat level. You may also find yourself adjusting the heat levels until you’ve found the right temperature. I personally have not used an electric deep fryer, but I believe it makes things a lot easier and eliminates the guessing game altogether.
While you jotting down the list of ingredients you may need for this recipe, I’m going to grab a couple of the puris, curl up on the sofa with a good cuppa and page through a cookbook I just bought!