‘Pazham pori, choodu Pazham pori (hot banana fritters)’ called out the hawker in the distance. When those exciting words reached my ears, all my attention was focused on that voice,lest I miss the vendor when he passes by. If I were a dog, you could have seen, my ears go up.
We were on a train from Trivandrum to Kottayam when I heard him, maybe in the next compartment. And I was waiting for him to reach our compartment. Travelling by train is an experience you must not miss while travelling in Kerala. It is one of the best ways to connect with the local people, take in the sights and see a microcosm of Kerala pass by you, station after station. Another reason why you should do so is because it gives you a chance to taste some of our favourite snacks from Pazham poris to Vadas to Cutlets. The snacks on the train are not for the ones with very sensitive GI tracts, some of it might not be prepared in the most hygienic of kitchens but come on, if you like a little bit of adventure, it is worth biting into. I have been eating it for years and I am still alive and kicking.
As his voice grew louder, I asked my friend who is not a Malayali if she had tried Banana fritters, she said she had and I was disappointed. I wanted to introduce her to one of our specialties and watch her reaction when she gets a taste of that succulent banana with a crispy outside. I watched as the vendor took out those tempting yellow snacks and handed it over to a person sitting on the other side. I noticed my friend’s eye examining the contents of the vendor’s tray. She turned to me and said that she had not tried this and had confused it for ‘Bajjis’ (another snack made with raw bananas, chilies, potatoes etc. dipped in batter and deep fried in oil). I watched with eager anticipation as she bit into one of the yummiest things ever made, while my share was doing rounds in my mouth. She loved it so much that on the day she was leaving Kerala she insisted that my mother make her some for the road.
Pazham pori also called ‘Ethakkappam’ in some parts of Kerala is available in most bakeries and tea shops in Kerala. It can be easily made at home and is a favorite teatime snack. Most older Malayalis will remember how their mothers would keep hot fritters ready for them when they returned after a long day at school. Do you feel like tasting it? Grab some ripe bananas, slice them, dip them into a batter of wheat flour (Maida), water, sugar and a pinch of salt and fry it in oil. If you want the authentic Kerala taste, fry it in coconut oil. Do not want to make it but still want to eat it? Come to Kerala!