Chips are not just for when you're hungry. Phshh... these days, hardly any food is. Chips, though, are a multi-purpose food that has stayed by our side in times of boredom, through binge-watch sessions, at daaru parties - the list goes on.
But in a world of Lays and Pringles chips, there is one desi gem that just does not get its due. Kela chips. Banana chips. Or upperi, as they are known in their place of birth - the glorious south of India.
Banana chips are a marvel of human innovation. And they are love. Unadulterated, deep fried love.
I mean, we're talking about a chip that's cut from a sweet fruit and fried in coconut oil to a crisp and seasoned to perfection. Sure, salty chips made from fruit do not sound the best in theory, but somehow, the banana makes it work!
I believe I speak for every human that's ever eaten a banana chip that 'no one can eat just one' should rightfully have been their tagline. No, seriously, I dare you. Put a bowl full of banana chips in a room full of people, and watch 'em disappear into uncontrollable mouths.
Did someone say 'chakna'? Look no further, you've got the banana chip.
If you thought that alcohol was a social lubricant, try a spread of kela chips on your chakna platter and you will know what 'bringing people together' looks like. Not only do people love banana chips when they're around, but an alarming number of people actually ASK for them in advance. Like pre-ordered snacks.
"Will you bring me two packets of banana chips the next time?"
Being part-Mallu has afforded me fairly convenient access to some grade-A banana chips from my neck of the woods. And as God is my witness, if I had a single banana chip for every time someone told me to bring them a packet on my way back from Kerala, I'd have a couple more packets by now... which I'd probably end up giving to one of those very people.
So let's take a minute to appreciate this tasty treat of a chip. The kela chip, the hip chip, the chip of chips - is among India's prized original snacks and a culinary wonder that, as simple as it may seem, has spread a whole lot of love and joy.