Raw banana aka ‘Vazhakkai‘ is a vegetable quite commonly used in a Tamilian kitchen. I use it to make various things like Poriyal, Podimas, Ezhu Thaan Kootu, Avial, Roast and in Gujarati Undhiyu. One of my other favourite things to prepare with raw banana is Vazhakkai Podi.
What is Vazhakkai Podi?
Vazhakkai Podi, also called Vazhakkai Podi Potta Curry, is a dry curry made using raw banana. It is a heritage Tamilnadu recipe, somewhat of a ‘lost recipe’ now.
Raw banana is almost fully cooked, then chopped up or crumbled, and then stir-fried with a freshly prepared spice powder. The freshly ground spices make this curry beautifully fragrant and very flavourful, a delectable treat. A big, big favourite at our place!
Vazhakkai Podi pairs well with rice mixed with Dal, Rasam, Sambar, More Kozhambu, Thogayal, Vattalkozhambu or Milagu Kozhambu, as well as with other rice preparations like Lemon Rice, Coconut Rice, Sorrel Leaves Rice, and Tamarind Rice. Many love having it as an accompaniment with Curd Rice.
The best part? It is very easy to make, and can be prepared in minutes!
Is this Vazhakkai Podi vegan and gluten-free?
This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable to those following a plant-based diet.
It can be made gluten-free too, by simply skipping the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided if you are following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can get your hands on 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.
How to make Vazhakkai Podi aka Vazhakkai Podi Potta Curry
The detailed proceedure follows.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
For the spice powder:
- 1/2 teaspoon oil
- 1 tablespoon urad dal
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chana dal
- 4 dry red chillies
- 2 medium-sized raw bananas
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
- 2 dry red chillies
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
1. Cut off the tops and ends of the raw bananas. Cut each banana into half and place in a wide vessel. Add in enough water to cover the banana halves completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the dry red chillies, chana dal and urad dal. Turn the flame down to medium.
3. Roast the ingredients on medium flame till the dals turn a nice golden-brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.
4. When the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Grind everything together to a powder, mostly fine with the slightest hint of coarseness. Keep aside.
5. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked raw banana out. Discard the water.
6. Let the cooked raw banana cool down a bit, then peel them. Cut them into small cubes.
7. In the same pan we used earlier, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the 2 dry red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
8. Turn the flame down to low-medium. Add the raw banana cubes to the pan.
9. Add in salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix gently, but well.
10. Now, still keeping the flame on low-medium, add the spice powder we prepared earlier to the pan. Keep stirring with one hand, adding in the powder with the other, so that all the raw banana pieces are coated completely with the spice powder. Taste and adjust salt at this stage.
11. Let the curry cook on low-medium flame for 2-3 more minutes, which will help it get beautifully crisp. Stir intermittently, to ensure that all the raw banana pieces come equally in contact with the hot pan. Once done and the gas is switched off, add in the lemon juice, stirring constantly so that all it is evenly distributed among all the pieces. Done! Your Vazhakkai Podi is ready to serve. Serve it hot or at room temperature with rice, along with sambar, rasam or vattalkozhambu.
Tips & Tricks
1. Use a heavy-bottomed pan for roasting the ingredients for the spice powder. Roast them on medium flame and take care to ensure that they do not burn.
2. I have used 2 of the hot Salem Gundu dry red chillies and 2 of the less spicy Bydagi dry red chillies in the spice mix. You can use any variety of dry red chillies you prefer. Increase or decrease the number, depending upon personal spice preferences.
3. The colour of the Vazhakkai Podi will depend upon the type of dry red chillies that you use.
4. Mom uses a bit of thick tamarind paste to sour her Vazhakkai Podi, while I have used lemon juice for the same. Take your pick! If using tamarind paste, add it in while adding the spice powder. If using lemon juice, add it in at the very end, once the gas is switched off.
5. You can keep the spice powder as fine or coarse as you prefer. I keep it mostly fine, with just a very little bit of coarseness.
6. You may skip the tamarind paste or lemon juice fully, if you so prefer. The Vazhakkai Podi Potta Curry still tastes fab!
7. Make sure all the pieces of raw banana are evenly coated with the spice powder. Stirring constantly while adding in the powder helps, in this respect. Similarly, ensure that the tamarind or lemon juice is also equally spread out among the raw banana pieces.
8. Some people crumble the cooked raw banana, and then proceed to use it in the curry. I prefer chopping it into small cubes instead.
9. Coconut oil or sesame oil works best in the making of this Vazhakkai Podi Potta Curry. However, you may use any other variety of oil you prefer, too.
10. Do not overcook the raw banana. 2 whistles on high flame work perfectly for me.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!