Recipe: Raw Banana Stew aka Vazhakkai Kootu

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This is one of my favourite kootus, the tanginess combined with the slight sweetness that jaggery imparts along with the crispy coconut flavouring is just yum! I love to eat it as it is, no rice or anything else needed to dress it up for me!

It’s quite versatile also, if you make it a bit runny (like a sambar), it can be eaten with rice. Add some papads or chips to go with it and becomes a delicious meal. When made thicker, it becomes the perfect addition to your meal. Eat with with a rasam or a mor kozambu and lick your fingers!

Vazhakkai Kootu

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Ingredients:
3-4 raw bananas (vazhakai)
3-4 tbsp Toor Dal
1 small lime sized tamarind
2-3 tsps Sambar powder
1.5 tsps oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp broken urad dal
2-3 tbsps coconut
3-4 dried red chillies
1 pinch asafoetida
2 tsps jaggery
Salt to taste

Method:

  • Wash the toor dal and soak it in a some hot water for 10-15 mins. After that pressure cook it and keep aside. Once you can open the cooker, mash the dal well so that it is even.
  • Soak the tamarind in hot to warm water for a while (depending on the size, it should take 20-30 mins). Once it’s soft and cool, mash it with your fingers and extract the juice. You can run it through a seive to make sure you don’t have any fruit in the juice extracted. Alternatively, just buy tamarind paste which is easily available in most Indian stores.
  • In a pan, add the oil and once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, add the chana dal and fry till it starts to change colour. Do not let it get black, as it will then become bitter. Then add the dried red chillies and a pinch of asafoetida and lastly the grated coconut. Keep frying the cocounut until it starts to lose moisture and becomes brown. When the coconut is brown and crisp, remove from the flame and keep aside. We will use this in the end.
  • Peel and chop the raw bananas into small pieces. The pieces should be slightly larger than bite-size. Peel and chop one by one as otherwise the bananas will blacken. While peeling, you can keep a container with water next to you and drop the bananas into it while cutting the next one. This slows the blackening process.
  • When you have chopped all the bananas, cook them in a pan with just enough water to cover them. When the bananas are half cooked, add the tamarind juice to the pan along with sambar powder and salt to taste.
  • Let the tamarind water in the pan come to a rolling boil and let it boil for 5-10 minutes untill the banana is fully cooked. Bananas usually cook very fast so make sure you do not over cook them.
  • Once the bananas are cooked, add in the mashed dal and check for salt. If you want, you can also add the jaggery at the point.
  • When the dal has mixed well with the mixture add the coconut, give it a good stir and switch off the flame.
  • Garnish with a bit of coriander leaves and your delicious vazakkai kootu aka raw banana stew is ready!
  • Serve with rice or rotis for a delicious meal…
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