January 13, 2008

Nendrapazham Pulissery (Ripe Plantain in a Spiced Coconut and Yogurt Gravy)

A “pulissery” is a spiced coconut and yogurt based dish which is very popular in Kerala. This pulissery is made with Nendrapazham (ripe plantain). Plantains were earlier grown only in Kerala but now is available in many parts of India. The authentic and original pulissery is the Mambazha Pulissery, which is also made this way but with ripe mangoes instead of plantains. There is also a version made with pineapple.
So a pulissery gives you a lovely combination of sweetness (from the fruit), salt, spice and sourness (from the yogurt) which is just out of this world.

This is one of those recipes which have also found their way in to the Palakkad Iyer cuisine and is cooked often, especially in the mango season in Kerala ( late February to the end of May) every year. In our homes, this is also known as “morukootan” where “moru” is yogurt and “kootan” means gravy based accompaniment for rice.
This is how I make Nendrapazham Pulissery/ Morukootan.

2 medium sized ripe plantains
1 tbsp oil
1 cup slightly sour yogurt
1 tbsp gram flour (besan)
4 tbsps fresh grated coconut
2-3 green chillies (according to desired spice levels)
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
For tempering/ seasoning:
2 tsps oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1-2 red chillies (I use less spicy Kashmiri chillies)
1 sprig curry leaves

Peel the plantains and cut lengthwise into about 2 inch long pieces. Cut each piece into half lengthwise.
Grind the coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds into a fine paste adding a little water. Keep aside.
Whisk the yogurt and gram flour together till well blended.
Now heat 1 tbsp of oil and sauté the plantain pieces till they start becoming brown. Do not wait till the pieces are completely brown but just start browning in bits. Add a cup of water, salt and the turmeric powder to this. Stir and allow the plantain pieces to cook without becoming mushy. Some plantains tend to be hard even after they are cooked. These do not make a good pulissery. Now add the coconut paste. Mix well and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to minimum and add the whisked yogurt. Mix well and turn off the heat as soon as the yogurt mixture is just about to boil. If this boils the yogurt could split and the pulissery would not look or taste nice.
Heat the 2 tsps oil, add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Add the red chillies, the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Mix immediately and take off the heat or the chillies and fenugreek seeds would get burnt. Pour into the pulissery right away. This tempering is best done just before serving.
The Nendrapazam Pulissery is ready to be served. This recipe would comfortably serve about 4-5 people.
Pulissery is eaten mixed with rice along with dry vegetable preparations, like “thoran” or “mezhukkupuratti”,and fried pappads.
Pulissery keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of days and can be warmed, tempered, and served.
I am sending this across to Jyotsna at Currybazaar for RCI: Kerala

Updated on 15th January, 2008:
I was asked what the difference between a Pulissery and a Kaalan was. It seemed appropriate to include my answer in this post.
Both Pulissery and Kaalan are dishes where the cumin seeds, green chillies and grated coconut are ground to a paste and cooked with yogurt to form a gravy.
Pulissery is made using one of these vegetables, usually vellirika ( a sort of cucumber), elavan (ash gourd), raw mangoes and sometimes a combination of elavan and raw mango, or fruits like mango, plantains or pineapple. Pulissery is thinner in consistency compared to Kaalan.
Kaalan is usually made with vegetables like chena (elephant yam) or vazhakka (raw plantain) and sometimes with ripe mango. Kaalan is much thicker in consistency and also has black pepper added to it.
In the age before refrigeration, sour yogurt was usually boiled/ cooked with salt, turmeric powder and crushed black pepper till the water evaporated leaving behind a thick mass. This was called “Kurukku Kaalan”. This keeps for a very long time. Then whenever, Kaalan was to be made, the vegetables would be cooked in a little water and then the above mentioned coconut paste and some part of the Kurukku Kaalan would be added to make a Kaalan, which was then tempered with mustard and fenugreek seeds and curry leaves in coconut oil. If Kaalan is made with ripe mangoes, then the crushed pepper is not added.
In many communities in Kerala, Kaalan is an important part of festive fare, where it is served with rice before the sambhar is served.
If anyone has any other information about this I would be glad to hear from you.


Bharathy said...

What a coincidence!
I too blogged the same today!!
(even the introductory words are almost the same!!!)

Perfect curry,Archana!:)..nice to see your version too !:)

Bharathy said...

Aah...I mistyped as archana for aparna,above...Sorry ,girl!!

What do they call in tvm for Kumbil appam?therali?(I need to add this to the post if you could kindly pass me the info, :) )

Rosie said...

Hi aparna,mmmm nice looking dish and so variable by changing ripe plantains with ripe mangoes or pineapple!

Rosie x

TBC said...

Looks delicious! Hmmm...so u add besan too...that's not commonly done.
That is a beautiful pic, Aparna.
BTW, where exactly in Kakkanad are u?

Nags said...

oh nice! sis also made the same thing :)


Thats a mouth watering recipe Aparna! I like kerala dishes and feel nothing can beet the fresh coconut and coconut oil smell used in the kerala cusine!

bee said...

question. how is this different from kaalan?

Aparna said...

Saw your version too. The more the merrier, I say.
BTW, am collecting the Kumbil appam info and will get back to you soon.

Besan is normally not added. I do this becuase I have found that it ensures that the yogurt will not split while cooking.
Then, wherever required, in our cooking rice flour is used as a thickener but for yogurt based dishes, I remember my grandmother using chana dal while grinding the coconut paste if the gravy needed thickening. I take the easy way out and use besan!

Thanks for asking the question. I have answered it and am using this info to update my post.

Rachel said...

lot of puliserris doing the round in the blogworld :)))

Ramki said...

Hi Aparna,
Am blogging your pulissery as a model recipe in the 1001 Kerala curries cookbook at http://ramkicooks.blogspot.com/

/Thanks for the recipe

Lavanya said...

wonderful blog you have..many kerala recipes..i love your blog..i will try this curry and i will let you know..check my blog when you find time :)

Aparna said...

Thank you, Lavanya for your kind words. I hope you find a lot more here you can try out.
I look forward to hearing from you. Shall definitely visit your blog.