Wishing all Keralites across the globe a very happy Onam. The very mention of the festival sends happy shivers down the spine. The excitement of meeting relatives, the rustle of new clothes, the joy of decorating the house with flowers, fills everyone with gleeful anticipation. Cooking the special Onam Sadya, the house smelling festive with the heady combination of curry leaves, coconut milk, simmering vegetables, with the inviting aroma of Payasam, with the fragrance of Nendra Pazham that lovingly follows you to every nook of the house.
That brings me to my much loved fruit – Nendra Pazham. A variety of banana grown extensively in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it is longer than the usual Robusta or Dole variety and has a different unique flavour. It takes pride of place in Malayalee cuisine.
Ask any one from Kerala, and Nendra Pazham will count as one of their favourite fruits. Ask anyone from outside Kerala, the answer may not be the same. it could take some time to get used to. Fortunately, everyone in my family likes this special banana.
At our home, we wait patiently for it to ripen just so. It could then get plonked into the microwave for a quick steam bath, or into the sauna of a fry pan with jaggery to sweeten the deal, or if in a ‘lavish mood’ get batter fried for that crisp outside, soft, sweet, melting inside Pazham Pori. Each of these methods of enjoying the Nendra Pazham merits its own post. For now, I’ll confine my gushing to the jaggery sweetened, gooey, syrupy golden blobs called Nendra Pazham Nurukku. This is often served as part of the festive Onam breakfast menu.
Whether you celebrate Onam or not, this is a good chance to indulge in this simple sublime dessert. It fits the bill for a quick healthy snack, a solution for any time hunger pangs as much as part of an elaborate festive meal or as dessert after a spicy meal.
Here is how I go about making it.
- Does NOT contain gluten, egg, soya, corn, peanuts, tree nuts.
- Suitable for gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant people.
Knife, Kadai / Frying pan.
- 1 kg (usually 4-5 bananas) Just ripe Nendran banana
- 1/2 cup Jaggery OR Brown Sugar. Can take 3/4 cup if you prefer more sweetness.
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter) – optional
- Rinse the bananas, peel and slice into 2 inch chunks.
- Combine the bananas, jaggery and water together in a kadai and set it over flame.
- Keep stirring once it comes to a boil. Lower flame if you find the corners browning.
- The bananas are done when they get a glaze and look translucent. This should come about in 7-10 minutes depending on flame and quantity cooked.
- Top with 1/2 tsp ghee if using, mix well and remove from fire.
- Serve when warm.