Banana Leaf Rice is a complete meal filled with several dishes that mainly comprises of vegetables. The base of this dish is plain rice. While it may sound dull as it is, the accompanying dishes make it exciting and tempting.
One of them is the fried snake gourd. The crispiness of the fried snake gourd makes the experience of having Banana Leaf Rice so much more fun. I personally think that these fritters taste much better than potato chips. It is the mild heat which is used to fry them together with the wonderful flavours of the batter that makes the taste extremely addictive.
Like many Indian dishes in Malaysia, the snake gourd is fried together with curry leaves for its special aroma.
Fresh snake gourds can be found easily in tropical countries. Otherwise, look them up at Indian or Asian grocery stores.
Substituting snake gourd
If you are unable to find snake gourd, substitute it with bitter gourd or even okra instead. Luffa which is also known as Chinese okra or cucumber may not be that suitable as it has a higher content of water and a bigger surface. Using the right vegetables and techniques, these fritters will turn out crispy. Here are a few tips to achieving just that.
Even thin slices
Slicing the snake gourd at a thickness of about 4 mm will ensure that each slice will be fried evenly. Thick slices may result in sogginess.
When it comes to frying, the temperature of the oil is important. If the oil is not hot enough, the slices of snake gourd and its batter may be soaking up the oil instead of turning crispy. To ensure the correct temperature, heat the oil at medium heat. Then, using a good old pair of wooden chopsticks, dip them into the oil. Bubbles will appear around the tips of the wooden chopsticks. This indicates that the oil is hot enough.
Allow the slices of snake gourd to slowly fry in the oil. Do not over crowd the pan or increase the heat thinking that a higher heat would cook the slices of snake gourd quicker. This will result in the batter being browned while the inside is still uncooked.
Fried snake gourd fritters can be prepared in advance. It is best to store them in an air-tight container and consume them within 1 week for the best flavours and freshness.