Fried Sweet Kerala Banana or Nendran Pazham

If I said you could take a really ripe Kerala banana or cooking plantain and turn it into a fruity creme brulee with just one other ingredient (and maybe a teeny pinch of your imagination), would you believe me? Well, you better believe it.

Fried plantain, maduros, kerala banana, nendran banana fried, fried sweet banana

The recipe for a fried sweet plantain is downright simple. Start with a really, really ripe Kerala banana (Nendra Pazham), with the blackest of skins and the softest of insides. The darker the skin, the sweeter and less starchy, the banana. Slice the bananas/ plantains and shallow fry them in hot oil. As the sliced bananas dance in the oil, watch the sugars in the fruit caramelize into a beautifully deep color. The sweet, candy-like smell of the burnt fruit sugars wafting off the pan is absolutely irresistible.

And when you take your first bite, you would never think you're eating a banana. The crispy, slightly chewy caramelized portions of the banana with the soft, custardy interior is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. For me, it's an easy, healthy, quick crème brulee hack, without the hassles or the added calories. Just right for when I need a quick sugar fix without the guilt.

Sweet, fried plantains, kerala banana, changalikodan banana, nendran banana, nendran pazham, caramelized


What are Nendran Bananas?

Kerala bananas, also called Nendran bananas, Nendran pazham or Changalikodan Nendran bananas are one of the most popular bananas in Kerala, India. They are larger and tougher than other bananas, with a much thicker skin. The mature fruit is pale yellow in color. These bananas need to be cooked before eating. Cooked green bananas can be eaten as a savory food, but cooked ripe bananas are definitely a sweet dish.

In other tropical parts of the world, these bananas are called 'plantains'. Although indigenous to South East Asia, through trade routes, these cultivars eventually reached the Caribbean where they have become a staple. Ripe, fried plantains are eaten all over the world, sometimes as a snack, other times as a side dish. In Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, these sweet fried plantains are called maduros or platanos maduros and sliced into little coin shapes or angular disk shapes cut on a diagonal, rather than into longitudinal slices.


Banana stand in the market, Kerala
Banana stand in the fruit market in Kerala, India


Benefits of Nendran Bananas

These bananas are high in magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, C and B-6. Easily digestible and high in fiber, they help prevent constipation and aid digestion and lower cholesterol. High in anti-oxidants, good for your heart and blood pressure, this is a real superfood.

How do you know a Nendran Banana is Ripe?

These bananas start out very firm and green, turning yellow. As they ripen, they turn blotchy, browner and darker, eventually turning black. At this time, you probably think they have gone bad and it's time to throw them out. Wrong! If you are using them to make a sweet dish, then this is the best time. When the skin has turned black, they have ripened to perfection. The flesh will be soft and tender and slightly mushy. 

How to Ripen a Nendran Banana Quickly

The hardest part for me, is waiting for Nendrana bananas to ripen and turn black. To speed up the process, I wrap the bananas in newspaper and keep them alongside other fruit. Sometimes, wrapping them along with other ripe fruit, like apples or other ripe bananas helps speed up the ripening process.

This is because as fruits ripen and age, they release a gaseous compound, ethylene gas, sometimes called the 'fruit-ripening hormone'. Ethylene gas starts the ripening process. When the fruit is wrapped in newspaper, the ethylene gas is trapped and helps create an environment with high level of ethylene which helps accelerate the ripening process.

How to Peel a Nendran Banana

Peeling ripe bananas need a little bit of care so as not to smash the fruit. The skin is a bit leathery, so it won't be as easy as peeling a regular eating banana with your fingers. Use a sharp knife to score off the top. Slice the skin along the banana lengthwise and then remove the peel in strips.

Where to find Nendran Bananas in the U.S. or Canada

It's not difficult to find Nendran Bananas in the U.S. or Canadian market place. Though, do remember they are called 'plantains' here. Shipped in from Mexico or the Caribbean,  I usually get mine from the Mexican grocery stores, but many main stream grocery stores now carry these plantains regularly.


Pan Fried Kerala Banana (Nendran Pazham) or Fried Plantain Recipe


Ingredients:


☐ 1-2 ripe Kerala bananas (Nendran Pazham) or cooking plantains from the Caribbean or Central America. The banana/plantain skins should be black or almost black.
☐ Sunflower oil or ghee for pan frying


Method:

1. Peel the ripe bananas and slice them longitudinally into two. If you prefer, you can cut them into smaller pieces.

2. In a heavy bottomed frying pan or cast iron skillet, add enough oil or ghee to pan fry the bananas.

3. Once the oil or ghee is hot, add the  bananas and fry for a few minutes on each side until the bananas caramelize.


Sweet, fried plantains, kerala banana, changalikodan banana, nendran banana, nendran pazham

Sweet, fried plantains, changalikodan banana, kerala banana, nendran banana, nendran pazham, caramelized

4. Remove from pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional) or a squeeze of lime and sugar (optional). Serve hot.


Sweet, fried plantains, kerala banana, nendran banana, nendran pazham, caramelized


I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post!

If you liked this recipe, you might like my other favorite recipes from Kerala:


Or check out my My Cookbook Index for a complete list of something else that might tickle your taste buds.


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