Sunday, June 21, 2015

BaaLekaayi (Raw plantain) kofta curry - A Father's day menu to celebrate one of the best dads!

Before I go off on my rants, let me wish all the wonderful men out there that are fathers or play the role of father for little kids by being their mentors, teachers, guides or just by being there when needed. Happy Father's day! You make this planet half beautiful (ofcourse the other half belongs to all the mammas :-)). Now for the teaser - here is my Father's day menu and thali this year, reach out and enjoy! or make them in your own kitchens and devour :-)
In a span of three weeks (or has it been 4 already? ok I am not counting and you shouldn't be too :-)), we celebrated a graduation party, a wedding and a graduation ceremony, not for the same person but the same generation. All went well and all the kids are smiling their happy smiles. I am still riding the high tidings with all the globe trotting I have been doing and currently feel as if I do not belong to any time zone. Adding to the woes is the especially busy work and general pace of life, so I sleep when sleep comes to me, I wake up when my eyes open themselves voluntarily. Somehow magically, I have managed to be productive and even active at work since I came back last Monday.
As for the wedding, it was the first big occasion in the family that all of us siblings and spouses made it and we were all brimming and gleaming with joy :-). Though mostly in buses, trains and other forms of transport for the 10 days we stayed there, family around us made it feel like a festival. Got to meet the extended clan and catch up on years of gap. Met my friends from college who made it to one of the events just to meet up, thanks JV & M, it was so good to see you. And then there was food, galores of it from the jowar bhakri (Oh, our new girl into the family is from the region and we got to eat the favorite jowar bhakri) and obbattu to the typical Mysore BBB (Bisi Bele BHath) and Jilebi (Jalebi). My heart is content and tummy satiated for a while now (also I need to go on diet :-))
I am still not into full fledged cooking at home, letting amma take care of the kitchen. But as we hit the weekend, the responsibility genie kicked in and I went grocery shopping as usual on Friday. Bought a bunch of veggies to replenish the anemic refrigerator. On saturday morning when I asked the BH what I should be making for lunch/brunch, the response was, "Oh don't get stuck in the kitchen, get some sleep. Just make some poori, chole, maagayi and we will be good :-)". He of the generous heart! My family jumps at the mention of pooris and since DD has been all relaxed since her graduation (infact, she is almost on the brink of boredom already having exhausted her sleep induced by jetlag and deprivation), I decided to make pooris for lunch. Instead of chole, I made saagu to give some veggie boost to the oily monster and we ate so heavily in the afternoon, nobody felt the need for dinner.
Before I knew, it was already Sunday and Father's day too! Currently with two fathers at home, both of them big time foodies, I wanted to make something they would enjoy for lunch. I looked at the vegetables and saw 4 nice raw plantains I had bought on Friday already starting to don on a tinge of yellow after sitting on the counter for 2 days. Ok, I can see some of you starting to get up, stretch and yawn already thinking, "Didn't she put a plantain recipe recently and also talk about how much she loves the vegetable?", so I will be a good citizen and spare you the details of my love story with the vegetable. If you are a patient reader and still here, I promise I won't disappoint you, here is a keeper recipe for a side dish especially if you are bored of the spuds in all koftas and looking for potato alternatives. This is not a creative recipe from my kitchen, koftas and kofta curries are the rich gravies from Northern India and raw plantain or Kache kele ki kofte is a popular dish in UP and Bihar. But I will certainly claim the stroke of brilliance I had today with addition of fresh mint to koftas and strongly urge you to try this recipe my way.
The fathers were both bowled over by this kofta curry, so did DD and amma. With a crisp outer covering and melt in the mouth insides dunked in a sweet & spicy sauce, its vibrant color, this dish is a sure party pleaser if you want to make them. I also went the high calorie version today just to celebrate father's day by deep frying the koftas which gave a special texture to the koftas and made them completely irresistable. The only trouble with this recipe is that you will have a tough time saving the koftas for the gravy as they come out of the hot oil. They taste so delicious just like that, the family had no control over the temptation. I am glad I used all 4 plantains, so I had just enough koftas for lunch. So plan well if your family is like mine :-)
What do you need to make BaaLekaayi kofta curry? 
For Koftas: (about 12 lime sized koftas)
2 large baaLekaayi (raw plantain)
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 green chilies - finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1 heaped Tbsp besan (gram flour)
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
For Gravy: 
5 cashews, 5 almonds
1 big onion chopped (about 1 cup)
2-3 big tomatoes chopped (about 2-2.5 cups)
1 inch fresh ginger - chopped
2 Tbsp milk (I used 2%)
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp red chili powder (adjust to suit your spice tolerance)
1/4 Tsp amchoor powder (dry mango powder)
1/2 Tsp garam masala powder
1 Tsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek)
2 Tbsp oil
Oil to deep fry koftas (see low calorie version in notes)

How do you make BaaLekaayi kofta curry? 
Kofta Preparation: 
  • Wash the raw plantain, chop and remove the ends and cut each plantain into 2 or 3 pieces. 
  • Take a sauce pan with water and a pinch of salt, immerse all the plantain pieces and bring it to boil. 
  • Lower heat and cook for 6-8 minutes until the pieces are soft (make sure they are not breaking apart but just soft). 
  • Switch off, drain the water through a sieve and let the pieces cool down slightly. 
  • Heat a pan and dry roast the besan (gram flour) for 4-5 minutes, continuously stirring so it doesn't get burnt. 
  • When the besan starts to give out a nice nutty aroma, switch off and keep aside. 
  • Once the plantain pieces are cool to touch, peel them (it easily peels off and you won't need to fight :-)) and grate them with a grater, use the big holes side. 
  • Mix all the remaining ingredients for kofta with grated plantain in a bowl and using your fingers, bring them together into a mass. 
  • Taste and adjust spices or salt as needed. 
  • Make lime sized balls out of the mixture and keep ready. 
  • If you are deep frying the koftas, heat oil to deep fry. Test the readiness by putting a small piece of the kofta mixture, if it sizzles up to the surface immediately, you are ready to go. 
  • Drop the prepared balls one by one into the oil, do not pile them on top of each other, do it in batches. 
  • Reduce heat to medium high and let the koftas cook for a minutes before turning them over to the other side. 
  • Cook them until they are uniformly golden brown all over. 
  • Take them out of oil onto a paper towel. Repeat for all remaining koftas. 
Gravy Preparation: 
  • Heat a big pan with 1 Tbsp oil, add the cashew and almonds. 
  • Roast them for a minute and add chopped onions. 
  • Add salt and saute for a couple of minutes before adding chopped tomatoes and ginger. 
  • Cover and let cook for 4-6 minutes until onion and tomatoes soften. 
  • Switch off and let cool. 
  • Once cool, grind the mixture into a very smooth paste.
  • Heat the pan, add the ground mixture and 1/2 cup water. 
  • Let it cook and boil for about 10 minutes, the raw smell goes away and the sauce thickens slightly. 
  • Add red chili powder and amchoor powder at this stage and mix. 
  • Add milk and let it come to a boil. 
  • Finally add garam masala powder and crushed kasoori methi, mix and switch off. 
  • Heat the gravy separately if it has cooled down, pour it over the koftas a couple minutes before serving. 
  • It is important to not cook the plantain too much, it becomes a mush and takes more besan to hold shape which will change the taste. 
  • Let the cooked plantain cool and drain water completely before grating it. 
  • I roasted the besan as I like the enhanced nutty aroma, you can use it directly if you like. 
  • Adding mint really adds to the flavor of this dish, I would recommend not skipping it. 
  • You can make modifications to the gravy per your choice but I like this delicate, creamy sauce where the focus is just onions & tomatoes. 
Low calorie changes: 
  • Use aibleskiever(appe) pan to roast the koftas instead of deep frying them. This takes much less oil. You won't get the same crisp finish on the koftas as deep fried ones but when dunked in the sauce they anyway soften up. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

happy father's day to all wonderful fathers! the write-up is so nice. the recipe is so wonderful melting in my mouth. I ate a lot! very tasty and all time tempting also. thank you dear for this wonderful recipe.

Hamida H said...

Hi Nagashree,

“Baalekayi Kofta Curry” – no wonder that persoanl flavors are this rich! Good that we stumbled upon your FB post that spoke for the magic lying within foodie’s space…XOXOXO

Rice rave turns all tantalizing … “Akki Tari”…why didn’t we run into such a shell all these days?

Yes, we would love to feature your culinary skills on our global platform.

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That too you’re the one, who’s going to own this space! We would like to pass it on to others by featuring it on our global platform!

Sulekha.US would be glad to present your food blog to the Indian communities living abroad. We would love to connect them through one of the most vital channels i.e. food.

It’s all yours and you’re going to own an exclusive food blog with Sulekha to share your recipes along with their back links.

We would promote it across our wall and social media.

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Sharing your passion for cooking might rejuvenate the taste buds and senses of millions of Indians living abroad. We’re awaiting your valuable reply.

Bon Appetite!


Thanks & regards,
Hamida, Content Manager, Sulekha US

Sreemala said...

Such a treat to read your blog Nagashree! You always inspire me. The balekayi kofta sounds so good, must try! As I read thru' it makes me miss you all the more :(
With fond memories of your yummy aambode, soaked in saaru that my appa loved, wishing fathers in your home a very happy(belated) Father's day.

Nagashree said...

@Sreemala - such a sweet thing to say. Thank you! Miss you guys badly too. My namaskaras to uncle and a happy Father's day to him from all of us.