Doesn’t it seem like so long ago that quarantine first began, and we all searched wildly for the best banana bread recipe out there?
Well, quarantine continues (for most of us) , longer than many of us imagined, and so I think it’s about time to level up our banana game. And so I give you the latest episode of my show, Community Table: Mangalore Buns!
Mangalore buns have a cult following in India, and I can see why! I am so proud that they hail from my hometown (which is now called Mangaluru), which is set on the southwest coast of India. It’s replete with coconut trees, rice paddies and… college students; one of the best universities in the country, Manipal, has a campus in Mangalore.
The buns remind me a little of beignets, but come together much quicker. They are usually served as a snack alongside a burn-your-tongue hot cup of milky filter coffee (think thicker cafe au lait), and a gently spicy fresh coconut “chutney”. The banana gives them a subtle sweetness, until you come upon a cumin seed, and then you’re taken in a whole different direction. Each bite is a little different, and intoxicating!
Since fresh coconut is a little tricky to find, I offer you my pineapple chutney below. But can I tell you a secret? I’ve eaten these buns alone, with some honey-sweetened greek yogurt, and even with a hefty spoon of pimento cheese dip… there’s very little they don’t go well with! (And, you could even try my husband’s idea: Elvis goes to Manglore buns… topped with peanut butter and bacon!). Whatever you top them with, enjoy the process. They are such fun to make, especially if you have children. Eliyah and Moses love rolling them out and watching them puff up in the hot oil. Also, I discovered the secret to making them puff up like a balloon: Don’t roll them too thin. Make sure they’re a few millimeters thick and you’re golden.
Here’s the recipe:
Mangalore Buns with Pineapple Chutney
1 medium very ripe banana
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (full fat)
1 tablespoon granulated cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (approximately) all purpose flour
Neutral oil for frying (I use canola)
Flaky salt to finish
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black/brown mustard seeds (optional but recommended!)
1/2 red onion or shallot, finely diced
1/2 serrano or jalapeno pepper, minced (seeds and membranes removed if you don’t like heat)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 20-ounce can pineapple in juice, drained and finely chopped
Squeeze of lime juice
Small handful cilantro leaves, minced