As you travel down the western coast of India, your olfactories announce your arrival within the bounds of Karnataka. In addition to the ubiquitous tiffin items, a delightful, faintly sweet, fried aroma hits you where it matters, causing instantaneous salivation leading you to involuntarily gulp like a goldfish. For us UKites (Uttara Kannada folks) it’s a nostalgic moment bringing around an avalanche of childhood memories from those month-long summer holidays at our native place, when each day we awoke to a myriad ensemble of aromas, this particular one an essential part of the bouquet. And this welcome culprit?
Sweet Banana Puris or Buns! Even a tiny tea shack in the smallest of villages will have a stack of these piping hot, thick, soft, sweet, deep-fried puris awaiting you for breakfast or snacks with the afternoon tea. Made from a dough of whole wheat flour, mashed bananas and jaggery, allowed to rest overnight, and then rolled out and deep fried like regular puris, the buns can be devoured accompanied by a spicy coconut chutney or even just by themselves.
And every once in a while when made at home the buns bring back those fond rural memories. But the aromas are not quite the same – perhaps the fragrance of the native soil is missing…
– Narendra Nayak © 2019