Cravings are a natural part of life, primarily influenced by the feel-good sensation you have after you’ve consumed the coveted item to your heart’s content (or your stomach’s). But let me ask you a question: has your craving ever turned into an obsession – like Gollum’s my-precious-one-ring obsession? Just say it out loud; you know you want to!
My fixation doesn’t end with having this dish over and over again. I have to recreate it within the confines of my own kitchen with the ingredients that I happen to own so that I can have it whenever and wherever – no strings attached (apologies for this borderline OCD rant). It takes me days, sometimes even months, to come up with a recipe that’s 80 to 90 percent close to its original counterpart. The results are satisfying, to say the least; what’s even better is being able to share that recipe with the rest of the world. But the cherry on the top is when someone actually tries the recipe and gives me feedback on how it tastes and/or can be improved.
A brief list of some recent obsessions along with their current statuses follows:
- Salt and Pepper Lahore’s Stuffed chicken breast with pineapple sauce – Success!
- Nando’s Peri bites – Yay! (new improved recipe coming soon)
- Nando’s Peri peri sauce – tried once and it tasted good, but nowhere near the real thing so still working on it
- KFC’s Spicy fried chicken – tried several variations but none was close enough; still working to get this right
- P.F. Chang’s Dynamite shrimp – haven’t had the time to try this one yet, but soon!
Spicy Banana Chips are the latest addition to the list above. Ever since I first tried this snack in 2007, I’ve been head-over-heels in love with them. Originally from India (Kerala, to be precise), these delightfully crispy chips are a perfect mid-afternoon snack to help during those hunger pangs. The traditional Indian spicy chips are fried in coconut oil, topped with salt, pepper, and powdered curry leaves. I did find a tastier version more suited to my Karachiite palate at a bakery but the bakery doesn’t have them anymore; ergo, the obsession.
I decided to give the recipe a try at home and luckily, got it right the very first time; having said that,it wasn’t until the third try that I finally got a version tastier than any banana-chip variation I had ever tried before. So before you drool all over your favourite t-shirt, let me dive straight into the recipe.
Prep Time: 35-50 minutes (depending on how many batches you have to fry them in)
Servings: 5-6 (yields approx. 200 grams)
Serving Size: 30-40 grams
- 1 kg raw bananas or plantains (characterized by their tough exterior)
- ½ teaspoon chat masala (can be found at any Pakistani grocery store)
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ⅛ teaspoon citric acid powder (or granules)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric powder for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder for soaking the bananas
- 2 cups water
- Oil for deep frying
- Take a bowl and prepare the seasoning; mix the chat masala, salt, red chilli powder, black pepper powder, turmeric powder and citric acid powder – in case you have citric acid granules, you may need a mortar and pestle to powder it
- Prepare a water and turmeric solution and soak the peeled bananas in it for 5 minutes; peeling raw bananas can be a bit tricky so here’s a video that shows you how to do it
- In a deep pan, add canola oil for deep frying and heat it on a medium flame
- Once the oil is hot, make 2-3 mm thick slices of the banana using a slicer directly over the pan; please be very careful while doing this
- Let the chips sit for 45 seconds before tossing and turning them around; keep moving them till they are nice and golden to get an even color on both sides
- When these turn golden brown (it takes around 9-12 minutes), take them out in a bowl and liberally sprinkle the seasoning; toss them around for an even coat and then spread them on a paper towel
- Serve after they have cooled down somewhat
- Keep in a zip-lock bag for up to 5 days (good luck if they last that long) to preserve freshness
Now don’t just sit there and watch; go get some raw bananas and get slicing!