Tuesday, 20 December 2011




          Some of you may have wondered what to do when a huge bunch of Robusta bananas start to mature in your backyard. Weighing nearly 50 kilograms, almost all the bananas ripen at once and it is often an uphill task for your family, your neighbours and friends to finish off the bananas which do not possess much keeping quality. However, not all Robusta bananas need to ripen to give you a treat. Raw Robusta bananas can transform to delicious dishes like Robusta banana upkari, Robusta podi, banana peel upkari and super delicious Robusta banana chips. Come, let us make and enjoy some.


     1)    Fully mature raw Robusta banana – 1 or 2 combs

     2)    Powdered salt – 2 teaspoons
     3)    Hot red chili powder – 2 teaspoons
     4)    Asafoetida powder – ¼ teaspoon
     5)    Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
     6)    Best quality coconut oil or other cooking oil – to deep fry (1 to 2 litres depending on the size of your wok)

To Make:

Mix the powdered salt, the chili powder, the asafoetida powder and the turmeric powder nicely and put it in a salt cellar.

To Make:

          Peel the bananas with a small sharp knife. The peel is around half a centimetre thick. Cut off both the sharp ends of the banana. Now make a skin deep gash down the length of the banana. Insert the tip of your knife into the gash. Twist and slowly pry off the skin. Do not throw away the banana peel. You can make many delicious dishes out of it (see my banana peel upkari recipe). Peel the rest of the bananas and set aside.

          If the resin from the peel sticks to your fingers, just rub in a few drops of coconut oil. Set a large wok on high heat. Pour in the coconut oil.

          As soon as the oil is hot, you can start making the chips. Holding a stainless steel chip maker above the hot oil with one hand, grip the banana firmly and push it back and forth quickly and carefully across the slicing board letting the chips drop into the hot oil. As you reach the end of the banana, take care not to slice your fingers. Once you get the hang of it, it is quite safe and easy. Slice in a banana and a half or a couple of bananas for the first batch. Stir frequently to fry all the chips evenly and to prevent them from sticking together.

          As the chips get fried, you will notice the bubbles getting lesser. Stir well. As soon as the bubbles coming out of the chips become very less, lower the heat to minimum and quickly lift out the chips with a strainer or a wide perforated ladle. Drain off the excess oil and put them in a stainless steel bowl. While they are still warm, sprinkle some of the mixed powder from the cellar and shake the bowl up and down. Now swirl it a bit and shake again in order to deposit the salt and the spices evenly on the chips. Put the chips in a stainless steel container with the lid open to cool.

          Now slice in the second batch of chips and turn up the heat. It is important to put on the lid of the container only after the chips have cooled down to room temperature so that they will remain crisp for up to a month. You will definitely love these chips.

Make for sure!!!


     1)    Unlike the Nendran banana, you cannot use the Robusta flower cone or the pith as they are bitter in taste. Only the banana and its peel are edible.

     2)    For the chips to be crunchy and crispy, it is important that you

     a)    use only fully mature unripe Robusta banana
     b)    fry them on high heat
     c)     lift them out when fully fried i.e. When the bubbles become less, yet early enough not to let the residual heat burn them
     d)    fully drain off the excess oil
     e)    cover the container with lid only after the chips cool down to room temperature
     f)      remember to turn down the heat as you lift them out of the wok and again to turn up the heat as soon as the new batch of chips are in the oil and
     g)    never overheat the oil or let it smoke
     h)    to sprinkle the salt and spice mix when the chips are warm, for the salt may not adhere to the cold chips.
     i)       to finally shake the container up and down to get better uniformity in the seasoning of the chips.

     3)    Some roasted oils (not all) tend to froth so much as to spill over. It is good to test the oil with a small sample. It is also better to use a larger wok.

     4)    If you find the heat of the oil and the ensuing steam too much to bear, you can slice the chips into a basin of water (to prevent them from sticking together) and later drain and slip them into the wok. This way, you can fry the chips with greater ease but the flavour, crispiness and the nutrients will be comparatively lesser.

     5)    Robusta bananas, before they ripen, can be harvested comb by comb and utilized in your kitchen. When you cut out some of the combs, you will find that the rest of the bananas on the bunch grow thicker and bigger than usual.

     6)    All different types of Robusta banana such as Grand Naine, Williams, Dwarf Cavendish, Giant Cavendish, Sreemantini, Basrai, etc. can be used successfully to make these scrumptious, wafer-like yummy chips.

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