Friday, 2 September 2016





          Long before the chipmaker was invented, the people of Kerala were enjoying crunchy, deep-fried nendran chips – each painstakingly cut by hand and fried in coconut oil. This enticing tradition is so ingrained in the heart of the Malayali, that despite the changing times and fashions, each banana leaf rightfully claims a serving of upperi – veliyupperi / sweet sharkara upperi and cheriyupperi / savoury upperi. While traditional cheriyupperi is a simple, savoury deep-fried snack, relying fully upon the goodness of nendran banana alone, the modern bakery version incorporates the flavour of chili powder and curry leaves as well. Here are both versions. Do fry and enjoy!

Ingredients (for the traditional version):

     1)    Peeled, fully mature, raw nendran banana – 500 gm.
     2)    Powdered salt – 1 heaped teaspoon (10 – 12 gm.)
     3)    Oil – to deep fry

Ingredients (for the modern version):

     1)    Peeled, fully mature, raw nendran banana – 500 gm.
     2)    Powdered salt – 1 heaped teaspoon (10 – 12 gm.)
     3)    Oil – to deep fry
     4)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     5)    Kashmiri chili powder – 2 teaspoons (10 gm.)

To prepare:

          Cut each banana lengthwise into halves. Slice each half across into 3 mm ( inch) thick half-moon pieces and set aside. Take two tablespoonfuls of water (30 ml.) in a small bowl or cup. Tip in a heaped teaspoonful of powdered salt and stir till the solution is fully saturated (no more will dissolve). Set aside.

To deep-fry the traditional version:

          Set a wide wok or deep-frying pan on high heat. Pour in the cooking (a little should suffice to deep-fry 500 gm. of banana pieces in one batch). As soon as the oil is hot, tip in the banana pieces. Stir every now and then for frying uniformly.

When the banana pieces are almost done (the bubbles will be few and most of the pieces would be floating on the surface of the oil), tip a teaspoon and a half (8 ml.) of brine (saturated salt solution) and stir continuously. This is for the dissolved salt to coat the pieces uniformly.

As the bubbles subside, you can feel the chips to be lightweight like pieces of wood as you touch them with the perforated ladle or with the mesh net noodle strainer. Lift out the chips and drain off the excess oil. Switch off the heat. Let cool naturally. Your delicious, crunchy, traditional cheriyupperi is now ready to enjoy.

To make the modern version:

Deep-fry the chips just as in the traditional version. As soon as you lift them out, switch off the heat and throw the curry leaf sprigs into the hot oil. Stir once (they would have fried crisp in just a few seconds), lift out and set aside.

Put the hot chips in a stainless steel bowl and sprinkle the chili powder. Shake vigorously so that the chili powder gets coated uniformly. Crumble the curry leaves and tip them in. Shake once more. Let cool naturally before you transfer the upperi to an airtight container.



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