Monday 2 July 2012

Green Banana Curry

I bought some very green bananas at Wal-Mart. I was a little hesitant, as I'd heard stories of bananas never ripening before, but I wanted bananas and didn't want to make an extra trip to the grocery store, so I bought them. Besides, I reasoned, a paper bag and an apple should ripen them up if need be. Well, after having them for probably a month, they still weren't really any less green, so I resorted to putting them into a paper bag with an apple. Apples, and other ripening fruit, give off ethylene, which hastens the ripening of fruit. However, it was no dice with my green bananas, in spite of being in the bag with the apple for a week or more (I didn't mark it on my calendar, so not sure exactly how long they were in the bag, nor how long it had been since I'd bought them). I finally gave up on ripening them, and went to the internet to find recipes for green bananas. I found a recipe for Green Banana Curry on Unfortunately, by the time I got a chance to make it, the bananas had started to ripen, no longer green and hard enough to make this curry. The skin is a greyish-yellow with a tinge of green and more challenging to peel than normal. The bananas are edible, but with a flavour and texture more reminiscent of those tiny bananas than regular bananas. But back to the curry - I had already planned on making this dish, so scurried over to Wal-Mart to get some more green bananas. Wal-Mart's bananas are almost always green. Not sure what happened, but this time, the bananas were only slightly green, and they had lots of them, not a one of them hard and green. What to do? Green bananas are actually a starchy food, so, thinking quickly, I remembered the frozen hash browns I had in the freezer in my holiday trailer. And that's what I used. I did not soak them in cold, salty water, as one is supposed to do with green bananas. I sauteed them for about 5 minutes after adding them to the oil and spices. And I used lite coconut milk. The results: delicious. I enjoyed it very much. 
I served the curry on a bed of Perfumed Basmati Rice with Black Cardamom Pods (Kala Elaichi Pulao) from 660 Curries. Let me say this about East Indian spices: if you do not have adventuresome tastebuds and prefer traditional North American flavours, skip the Indian cooking. When I opened my jar of black cardamom pods, the aroma reminded me somewhat of Vicks Vaporub. Basmati rice, itself, smells mildly like stinky socks, in my opinion (but then so do Fritos corn chips). So, no, these flavours are definitely not for the timid. I had recently bought a 1 gram bottle of saffron threads at Winners for $6.00, and that was the reduced price. Saffron is about the most expensive spice available. And yes, I know, Winners seems like a strange place to buy saffron, but that's where I found it. So, I was prepared to make this dish. I substituted vegan margarine for the ghee/butter and yellow onion for the red onion. Unfortunately, as I was only making a small quantity, I chose to use my smaller Durabrand Rice Cooker rather than my Aroma rice cooker. The Durabrand does not seal as tightly as the Aroma, so more moisture escapes. Significantly more.  Also, I frequently prepare the ingredients the night before and just start the rice cooker the next day. This gives the opportunity for the rice to soak, as it recommends in the directions, even though I don't cook it the same way. Perhaps this softens it up more. I'm not totally sure all of the rationale, but the rice turned out rather crunchy. The flavour was good, but the texture was not. Next time I use the Durabrand, I will add some extra water and hopefully, that will make the difference. In spite of the texture, which was no fault of the recipe, this dish gets a thumbs up. It was aromatic spicy, rather than hot spicy, as this dish had no heat (other than temperature) whatsoever. The heat in my meal was in the green banana (hash brown) curry.