Banana-less Banana Puri???

Banana Puri

Banana Puri

Could someone please tell me why this is called Banana Puri??? I have no idea but these are actually banana-less puris! Someone once told me that they look sort of like a banana so I stared at them and quite honestly didn’t agree…back in the day, you just couldn’t disagree with the old ladies…so I remained silent. How things have changed?

These pastries remind me of Diwali in Isipingo…..there was a lady, Mrs Nowbuth, who made the best puris ever and it was the talk of our little town. Her husband, Mr Nowbuth, was a teacher at our primary school and he was quite the terror! The pastries were sent out in strict rations…one per household…placed on an flimsy paper plate. Slim pickings for the youngest kid and this meant that I never got to try them. It made me resentful…I really wanted to tuck into one and eyed them greedily! I promised that I would learn how to make these and eat them all on my own!

I first tried making these when I was in high school. Armed with the ‘Bible’ of traditional cooking, ‘The Indian Delights’. It wasn’t the recipe that was a problem…just lack of experience…how thin do I roll out the pastry…what should the syrup be like…how long should I boil it? The answer was mainly pure guess work and impatience.

What a disaster??? The pastry was soaked in oil and what was supposed to look like a rose, resembled a garden snail. This was definitely a lesson in ‘how not to find a good husband’ My first encounter did not deter me – in fact, they were so bad that I was determined to get them right. I persevered and am proud to say that I think I have perfected them…the secret is in resting the dough which I discovered by accident about fifteen years ago….I had been baking all day…and hit the wall. So, I wrapped up the puri dough in cling film and tossed it on the kitchen counter. I got up the next morning and rolled the dough out…the banana puris turned out perfect.

Getting these right takes practice…and the most important ingredient is a super dose of patience. Oh, and one more important lesson….perfecting these delicate pastries did not help me hook the perfect husband…not the first time round, ANYWAY!

I would love to hear about your Diwali memories…post a comment!

Banana Puri

500ml Spar cake flour, sifted
2,5ml ground cardamom
75ml Spar buter
Pinch of salt
2,5ml baking powder
5ml lemon juice
200ml iced water
200ml Spar butter, melted
Cornflour for sprinkling
Spar sunflower oil, to fry banana puri
Tinted roasted almonds, to garnish

For the sugar syrup:
250ml Spar sugar
200ml cold water
1 cinnamon stick
25ml rose syrup

Here’s how

Mix the sifted cake flour, ground cardamom, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
Slice the butter into little cubes and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the lemon juice to the iced water.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add enough iced water to make a stiff dough.
Leave the dough to rest overnight (8 hours).
Divide the dough into eight portions and mould into smooth balls.
Use a rolling pin to work each portion into a paper thin round.
Dust the work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking.
Dust a large baking sheet with flour and place the first round on it.
Brush the round with melted butter ghee and then sift a tablespoon of cornflour over.
Pile the rounds on top of each other making sure that both sides of the rounds are brushed with butter ghee and dusted with cornflour except the top of the last round.
Gently roll out the pile and trim the edges.
Brush the top of the dough with melted butter ghee and then dust again with cornflour.
Roll up the dough tightly to form a swiss roll and slice the dough into 12 portions.
Place the sliced dough with the layers facing up and flatten at a 45 degree angle.
Roll the dough into an oval and fold the open edge over and press firmly to ensure its does not open when being fried.
Heat oil in a small pot on medium heat.
Fry the banana puri one at a time and gently spoon a little oil over the pastry. This helps to puff up the layers in the pastry.
Turn the pastry over and continue spooning oil over.
The banana puri should still be pale in colour when cooked.
Drain on a wire rack.

To make the syrup:
Combine the sugar, cold water and cinnamon stick in a pot. Cook on a medium heat stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until a thick syrup forms. Pour in the rose syrup and leave aside to cool slightly. Drizzle a little syrup over the banana puris and garnish with flaked almonds.

Yudhika’s Tips

The sugar must dissolve before it comes up to the boil as this would cause the syrup to crystallise.
If the puris start to open, use a slotted spoon to hold the pastry against the side of the pot. Once the pastry holds its shape it can be turned over.
Dust the banana puri with icing sugar instead of sugar syrup.

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7 comments

    1. Hi Namritha…its been a while since I last heard from you! Hope you are doing well!!! My daughter was born on Diwali so we generally do a big feast to celebrate. She is a very special little person! I will be making lots…but definitely Naan Khatay and her favourite gulab jamuns as well as macarons!

  1. HI, I think the original name for this sweet is, Madata Kaja. I thought they were called banana puri because they reminded me of the banana flower
    I have one question, before I fly into the kitchen and try these 😉

    How thick should the oval be? Forgive me, I have been away from SA for 10years now, and have forgotten how they look.

    Roll the dough into an oval and fold the open edge over and press firmly to ensure its does not open when being fried.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for the message…I was so stuck comparing it to the fruit that I forgot to think about all the other parts of the plant!

      The oval should be about 5mm thick…I wish you all the best with this recipe and hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

      Where are you based now?

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