Tuesday 20 January 2009

Thanks so much for the wonderful responses to my appearance on Masterchef last night! There has been a great deal of demand for the recipes, so I've decided to post some on. When I get a moment, I'll go through the videos and see if I can capture a few stills of the food as well, I don't know how the guys at Shine manage to make food look so lovely :-)

This is the recipe for my starter, Banana Boli (also called Banana Podi). It brings back a lot of memories for me. I went to university in New Delhi, and used to take the train down to Mangalore for the holidays. It was a wonderful three day journey, that I used to spend in a second class sleeper. The nicest thing about it was the way in which the street (or railway, rather) food changed as we passed various areas of the country. My favourite part used to be when we hit Bombay. Suddenly the landscape changed to reflect the fact that we were travelling by the seaside. And when we reached Goa, the gorgeous smells of food cooking would drive me nuts. So close to home! Then the banana bolis would start appearing, wrapped in newspapers, steaming hot, spicy, yet sweet. For an extra few rupees you could get a little coconut chutney in a bowl made of banana leaves. Thats when I knew I was home...! I tried to recreate some of that experience in the Masterchef kitchen!

The key to getting this recipe right is to adjust the spicing and seasoning to a level that you are comfortable with. I start with a reasonable amount of spice and seasoning, taste the batter, then take it up a notch. Try to use a wok, instead of a deep fat fryer, the reason being that because these bolis are battered, they tend to stick to the bottom of the fryer and tear apart. Using a wok gets rid of this problem.

Quality Foods in Southall is a fantastic place to buy your ingredients. I live up in the Wirral, so tend to buy from Mattas in Bold Street or Eastern Foods in Renshaw Street, Liverpool.

Banana flower is not something you find very often, so just leave out that chutney. The dish works just as well with the coconut chutney. In the Masterchef kitchen, I made it to add a tang to the otherwise sweet dish. It worked :-) If you do find banana flowers, though, a couple things, make sure you wear gloves while stripping the outer leaves, and cover any chopping board et all with newspaper/ foil. This is because they 'bleed' a blackish substance when cut and its hard to get off your clothes and equipment. I'll post a recipe for a sambal, that you can make with the rest of the banana flower, so as not to waste it.


Ripe (but not overripe) West Indian Plantain (red would be good otherwise yellow is fine). If you can't find plantain, use slightly underripe normal bananas.


2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp black sesame seeds(optional)
2 tsps cumin seeds
½ tsp caraway seeds (optional)
About 200 g gram flour (chana dal flour)
2 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp rice flour
Sparkling water
Salt and Pepper to taste
Vegetable Oil (enough for deep frying)

For the chutneys:
Banana Flower Chutney

1 banana flower (whole)
100 g desiccated coconut
2 long dried mild red chillies (kashmiri chillies)
½ inch piece of ginger
1 flake of garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste

Coconut Chutney

200 g dessicated coconut (fresh is good, if possible)
2 green chillies
Small bunch fresh coriander
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 flake garlic (bruised, but left whole)
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to tasteBold

1. Slice the bananas into strips that are not too fat or too thin.
2. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, to make a thickish batter. It should slowly drip off the edge of a spoon.
3. Heat the oil. The oil is at the right temperature when a drop of the batter rises quickly to the surface covered in bubbles.
4. Dip the bananas into the mixture and deep fry in oil till golden brown and crisp.
5. Drain on kitchen paper.


1. For the banana flower chutney, strip a few of the outer leaves of the banana flower. Discard the baby bananas in it. Blend together the outer leaves of the banana flower with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. The chutney should be slightly tangy.

2. For the coconut chutney, blend together the first 4 ingredients. In a small pan, heat the oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the curry leaves and garlic and fry for a minute. Pour the seasoned oil over the chutney to temper. Remove the whole garlic.

3. Serve the banana boli with the 2 chutneys.


  1. Hi Michelle - just watched you on iPlayer and I'm very sorry you didn't get through. Your cooking was amazing. Thanks for the recipe: will be trying it this weekend!

  2. Thanks, I have had some incredible feedback, and I love talking to people. Hope you enjoy the dish, and watch out for more coming your way!

  3. any chance of the carrot halva recipe pleeeese!!

  4. Hi Michelle,
    Got here via the link you posted on the BBC boards (I'm HeyLucy over there). Thank you SO MUCH for posting your recipes! I thought your food looked fantastic; I'm looking forward to trying these recipes out.
    I'm 20 weeks pregnant with #3 and have been on a spicy food kick for weeks now. This is perfect! ;)

  5. Hi Michelle

    Nice to see the banana boli on here! Hope you are well - did you get my emails?

    Hope life is good


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