February 20, 2010

Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvaratti (Raw Plantains Cooked In Coconut Oil)

This particular dish sounds like a mouthful to say, especially if you have never heard of it before and aren’t too sure about how to pronounce it. What the name does mean is what it says! In my mother tongue, the Palakkad dialect of Tamil, it means “plantains pan-fried and coated in oil”.

A mezhukkuvaratti (or mezhukkupuratti as it is also called) is one of those typical Palakkad Iyer dishes which we have borrowed from Kerala and made our own. It is a bit different from the way the rest of Kerala seems to cook mezhukkuvaratti.

For us, a mezhukkupuratti has very little spice additions (only turmeric and chilli powders), and does not include the tempering with mustard seeds which so much a part of many of our other dishes.

Mezhukkuprattis can be made with a variety of vegetables including chenai (yam), payar/ achingya (yard long beans), to mention a few.

Coconut oil is the preferred medium used for pan-frying and this dish ensures the flavour of the vegetable. The result is a very slightly spicy dish where the coconut oil enhances the taste of the crisped vegetable without any spices/ other ingredients to detract from this. Here’s how we make it at home.

Just a small bit of advice. If you really want the authentic taste, the best bananas to use are what we call “monthankai” in Kerala. This variety is good only for cooking when raw and not a very nice banana when ripe. You may also use the nendrakkai/ ethakkai variety (usually used to make banana chips/ wafers), but this preparation isn’t as tasty as with the other banana variety.

Oh yes, and please don’t be tempted to reduce the amount of oil as I have often been. I can tell from experience that you need that much of oil for a good mezhukkuvaratti!


4 raw plantains

2 tbsp yogurt (or turmeric powder)

2 to 3 tbsp coconut oil

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chilli powder

salt to taste

1 sprig curry leaves


Wash the plantains and dry them.
Lightly coat your palms with oil. This prevents your hand from getting stained or sticky while cutting the plantains. Take a deep bowl, add the 2 tbsp yogurt and then fill the bowl with enough water to immerse the chopped plantain pieces.
Soaking them in this very dilute yogurt prevents the plantain pieces from discolouring. You can use turmeric powder instead of the yogurt, which also works well.

Trim both ends of each plantain and peel them such that just the outer green part of the peel/ skin gets peeled off. A thin layer of the peel/ skin should remain on the plantain.
Cut each plantain lengthwise into four, and then cut them into 1/2" pieces.
Steam or pressure cook the plantain pieces with turmeric powder and about 1/4 cup water till the plantains are well done and soft, almost mushy.

Now heat the coconut oil in a non-stick or heavy bottomed pan. Add the curry leaves, stir once and then add the cooked plantain pieces, salt and chilli powder. Stir well to mix and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes over low to medium heat, stirring well frequently. Cook till the plantain starts crisping and becoming golden brown. At this point, you will find the plantain has a tendency to start sticking to your pan in crisp patches.

Take off the heat, and serve warm as a side with rice and sambhar/ rasam/ pulissery.
This recipe should serve 4.

On an aside, I would like to share that my blog has been featured in the online edition of Femina, a leading Indian womens' magazine.


jayasree said...

Congrats on the femina feature. It made a good read.

I like the mixed veg mezhukuvaratti more, esp with koorkkai in it.

arundati said...

congratulations on the feature in femina aparna...love this recipe...always hope that dear millu makes it when we visit... its so simple... i must try it out...

sra said...

Nice haircut :)

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Sounds delicious! I have only had plantains in tostones so far.

Madhuri said...

Simple and yummy side menu.

Sharmilee! :) said...

Looks yum, simple and flavourful!

Sunshinemom said...

I love all mezhukkuvarattis! My favourite is the mixed one though. I think I will make it soon:).

So you are no longer the lady behind the pom? Congrats!

Ashwini said...

I find great comfort in Nendra Baale fritters, they are so comforting with the sweet and salty mish-mash.

Congratulations Aparna! Your blog is diverse and rich. Great to see you featured in Femina.

Asha @ FSK said...

Hmm.. we make vazhakkai varuval.. same recipe except in regular oil and just a few minutes before switching off, sprinkle grated coconut and toss.. I love it with vethai kozhumbu!! ohhhh!! :)))

anubhavati said...

Hi there,

Congrats n getting featured on Femina. its really a milestone huh? And as far as Mezhukkuveratti goes. gee i am a sucker....With Vazhakkai, beans, chenai, koorkai, YUM YUM anytie for coconut oil. Keep going..
havent been around a long time and love your header...

Manggy said...

I'm not familiar with the word, but just reading it I think it's easy to hack what it would sound like :) They look really delicious! Here in the Philippines platains would be fried -- and dunked in tons of sugar after ;)

Happy Cook said...

Mom always made mezhukkupuratti; especially when there was plantian available from the garden , then we had them for days :-)
This is indeed totally new to me , teh way you have made.
I can just smell the delicoius coconut oil aroma from your kitchen till here :-)

Happy Cook said...

Just read the interview in Femina.
Liked your pic too.

Mallugirl said...

pretty photo!!:)
u are right, lots of curry leaves and lots of coconut oil.. that's the identity of the mezhukku"v"aratti.
didn't know u don't add mustard seeds.

Nags said...

this is the natural choice when i make vazhakka. make it atleast thrice a month :)

Arti said...

nice recipe..congrats on femina feature


Jayashree said...

Congrats on being featured in Femina. My favourite mezhukkupuratti is chenai+vazhakka.....I make it quite often.

Miri said...

Congrats on the Femina Feature :)

Love valakkai this way and the Tamil varruval....the coconut oil does give it an edge though!

TBC said...

Nice to see the face behind the blog, Aparna!
Congratulations! :)

Aparna said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments.

Kate said...

These sound lovely! I am preparing plantains for the first time this evening. Wish I had seen your recipe earlier!