|There be banana in there, somewhere.|
Ignore them at your peril.
Luckily, fruit doesn’t get really wasted at home and forgotten pears, even when injured by a plummeting thumb, are soon cut up and transformed for toppings on say porridge, pork chops and um...pancakes. Ha! Alliteration in your face just there!
Maimed bananas on the other hand are a problem. They seem sturdy enough and when it comes to ripeness, the skin itself should give you a clue to its current stasis. My great-grandmother, Alice, would always wait until they were completely black before peeling them and if that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, I don’t know what will. However, this isn’t always the case because banana stalks and skins can easily break, split and hide early maturity. I’ve picked up many a healthy looking banana in my lifetime and howled because one end has turned black.
‘Whose grubby hands ripped at these bananas? ‘Look, they are ready before they are ready! Be careful with my bananas!’ I will say.
But no-one ever cares.
Working out what to do with half firm, half manky bananas then, presents a bit more of a problem; especially if you have a massive bunch, teetering on the edge. I get fed up with making banana bread you see. Then I came across the concept of banana and chicken curry, an idea that was once suggested to me by friend and fellow fud writer/blogger, Zoe Perrett, some time ago. Just recently, I returned it to once more; after yet again finding some sad, mistreated, malformed bananas and I thought to myself - ‘Bloomin’ ‘eck, I should really put this up on FU.’
Although I didn’t take any photos, the one on display is old. Bad blogger.
Now, if the notion of throwing bananas into the pot with spice, ginger, curry leaves and onions sounds as abhorrent as Nanny Alice’s penchant for mummified nanas, bear with me. Fruit in curry really isn’t as weird as it sounds, as there is strong precedent for sweet flavours in Indian food, especially in the south, to help balance out any fiery heat. Chicken breast is best (thigh is too strong) and coconut milk is the deal breaker. But by adding some mustard seeds to the mix, you actually make it more Bengali in style. Which, as I am sure you are aware, alludes to the cuisine of the east. I got that from the horse’s mouth by the way, I wouldn’t have a clue and this is really Zoe’s recipe, more than anything else.
I always like to add some toasted cashews, to style things out and add crunch but it’s not necessary. The very fact that you’ve paired up bananas and chicken for the benefit of saving on food waste, should and will draw gasps of amazement from the crowd around your table.
'We love it!' they will all say. Honest.
Your fruit still needs to have a certain firmness about it though. So if part of your nana is too blackened and bruised, you will have chop it off and dispose of it, I am afraid.
Unless of course, you have a Nana who likes that sort of thing.
Banana and chicken curry - serves four
3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 bananas, sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 chilli, finely sliced
Small handful of curry leaves
Half tsp asafoetida
Half tsp turmeric
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
1 can of coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Chopped coriander, for garnish
First, heat about 100ml of oil in a wide pan on the hob and add the mustard seeds. You want the heat to be fairly high at first but turn it down a touch as they start to go snap crackle and pop.
Add the cumin seed, curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric, chilli and ginger, some salt and pepper and stir through, cooking off for a good five minutes and then add the onion.
Turn the heat down and touch more and gently fry the onions off, until they go all soft.
Next add the chicken and turn the heat back (up, down, up, down, I don’t know) and brown the chicken off and then add the coconut milk. Bring up to a simmer and leave to cook for ten minutes.
Towards the end, add the sliced banana and cook for another two minutes or so.
Check for seasoning and serve with plain Basmati rice (cooked of course) and scatter some coriander over the top. And some toasted cashew nuts if you fancy it.