Plantain or Aratikaya (in Telugu) is one of my favorite vegetables. It is a non-sweet, starchy and tougher version of banana. It is particularly high in fiber and potassium. Widely grown and consumed in tropical climates, it is a popular vegetable in south India. Plantain itself is cooked in a variety of ways – as a stir fry, as a curry or even as fritters. Additionally, different parts of the plantain tree such as the leaves and the branches/stalks are also used traditional in cooking. It’s leaves also have religious significance as they are used during festivals or traditional gatherings to serve food.
This dark greenish-and-brownish vegetable with a tough skin may not look exciting enough but when cooked in the right way they taste super good. In my childhood, whenever dad would go to the vegetable market, he would ask me and my bro to name one vegetable each that we would love to have that week. My choice would almost always be plantain or taro root. This starchy vegetable is simple to cook since it doesn’t really need a whole lot of spices to impart flavor to it. The only thing I have an aversion to, is the stickiness of it’s skin. It gets to your hands and takes a couple of really thorough rinses to get it off completely.
This stir fry is really simple to prepare and doesn’t take up much time. It’s flavor is all about it’s simplicity. The green chillies and lime juice are the key ingredients to this tropical veggie dish. The green chillies give a nice spice kick and the lime juice provides an element of freshness in addition to the taste. I paired the stir fry with ‘Coriander Parathas’ which I think of as a fancied up interesting version of the everyday rotis/chapathis. You can make these with any herb you like. Mom made these parathas often while she was are here this summer and I’m hooked. When I feel everyday dinner rotis are boring, these simple parathas come to the rescue.
On another note, it was Vinayaka Chavithi or Ganesh Chathurthi earlier this month and I sooo wanted to share a recipe or two of the traditional dishes significant to the festival. But, festive days area always so busy – cleaning up, cooking and worship doesn’t leave any time to take photographs of the delicacies. While I was editing this post, the beautiful yellow color of this stir fry reminded me of the eco-friendly handmade idol of ‘Lord Ganesha’ I made with turmeric and so I thought I’d share a glimpse. I used turmeric as it easily dissolves in water thus signifying the process of nimarjanam or visarjan and I then used this turmeric water to water a few plants. For those who haven’t tried making Ganesha idols at home, it’s really easy. You could use turmeric or even dissolving clay to make them. It doesn’t take much time either. For naivedya/naivedyam, I made some lemon rice, tomato dal and the Lord’s favorite undrallu and kudumulu. It was a pleasant day well spent with devotion and tradition.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
- Plantain/Aratikaya – 4 cups cut into 1n1/2 or 2 inch slices
- Red Onion – 1 medium – - finely chpopped
- Green Chillies – 6 – finely chopped
- Ginger-Garlic paste – 1/2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Curry leaves – a fistful
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)
- Salt – 1 tsp or to taste
- Lime juice (fresh) – 2 to 2n1/2 tsps
- Coriander/Cilantro – a fistful – roughly chopped
1. Rinse plantain well under running water. Peel the tough skin or carefully cut the skin out with a knife. Rinse them again and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut them into slices just like you’d slice a banana. You could cut them smaller if you like.
2. In a wok or a nonstick pan, heat about 3 tsps of oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When they begin to sputter, add finely chopped onions and green chillies. Saute for 3 to 4 mins until the onions are translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and further suate for a couple of minutes.
3. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and salt. Mix and saute for a couple of minutes. Add plantain now and mix well. Cover with a lid and let cook for 12 to 15 mins, mixinf in between every 3 to 4 mins so that they don’t get burnt at the bottom.
4. If they get too dry, I usually take few drops of water in my hand and sprinkle over the plantain a couple of times. After 15 mins or so, using a fork check if they are tender enough. Add 2 tsps of lime juice and let cook further for a couple of mins.
5. Turn off the stove, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of lime juice and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
For Coriander/Cilantro Parathas,
simply take 1 cup of chapathi flour/durum atta, 1/2 tsp of salt, 2 tsps of plain yogurt, a handful of finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro and water (as required) and make a dough. Divide the dough into lemon-sized balls and roll them out into 7 or 8 inch parathas. Heat a tava or a nonstick pan, place the paratha on the tava, drizzle just a couple drops of oil on both sides and spread the oil all over the paratha. It should take around a min on each side and you’ll have tasty coriander parathas ready to eat along side any side-dish. Feel free to substitute coriander/cilantro with any of your favorite herbs.