The banana flower is popular in the cuisine of South Asians. Its attractive purple color and artichoke like flavor make it easy to add to dishes-be it a soup, stir fry or vada. Cooking it with dal is one of the most popular ways to eat this nutritious vegetable. Rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, the banana flower has several health benefits.
It is important to know how to clean and use the banana flower. The outer purple bracts are to be removed. Grease your hands well before touching the flower as it stains. Inside the bracts are the creamy white florets. These are to be separated. Take out the pistil in each of them and discard it. These are thrown away as they are difficult to digest and have a bitter taste. As you move inwards while peeling the bracts, the heart of the flower, white in color, will be revealed. This is to be chopped and used. Put all the chopped and cleaned pieces into buttermilk to which turmeric has been added. This prevents the vegetable from turning black. Always cook the vegetable well before adding to any dish.
1. Banana Flower Usili/ Banana Flower Scramble
Cuisine: Tamil Nadu
This dish combines the goodness of lentils with banana flower.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Cook both lentil and chick pea together with some turmeric powder and set aside. In the mean time grind chilli, salt, asafoetida and curry leaves into a coarse paste. Add the cooked lentil to this paste without any water and fry in oil. This will turn firm. Allow it to cool and then crumble it.
Cook the chopped banana flower with some turmeric powder and set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds, a red chilli and curry leaves. Add the crumbled lentil mixture and cooked banana flower and combine well. Stir for 2-3 minutes or till it is dry The Usili is ready. Top off with a dash of coconut oil.
This is a side dish best served with rice and curry.
2. Banana Flower Curry
Cuisine: Pan India
Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 10-12 minutes
This is a simple, no-hassle curry to make, loaded with nutrition.
Cook the chopped banana flower with salt and turmeric and set aside.
In a pan heat oil and fry cumin, curry leaves, green chili and onions. Saute till onions turn translucent. Next add chilli, jeera and coriander powders. Continue stirring it and it will turn brown. Then put in the cooked banana flower along with some water. Add salt to taste. Cook for 2 more minutes and as gravy thickens remove from flame. Garnish with curry leaves.
The curry is ready- good to taste and good for health.
PS. This is good with both rice and chapati.
3. Vazhapoo Vadas/ Banana Flower Vadas
A Vada is definitely the most popular South Indian snack. It is deep fried and made with a variety of lentils. Adding the chopped banana flowers to the lentil paste adds to the flavor and makes it unique- an excellent tea time snack!
Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Grind the soaked lentil with chili and salt to a coarse, thick paste. Add the chopped banana flower, onions, green chilli, ginger, asafoetida powder and curry leaves. Combine well. It should be firm enough to hold in your hand [as with other vada mixures].
Heat the oil in a pan. Take a spoon full of the lentil mixture into your palm and shape it into a small, flat round. Drop into hot oil and fry golden brown on both sides. Serve these crispy vadas piping hot.
This is best served with spicy chutney of your choice.