The banana tree is extremely versatile and most parts of it are used in Indian cooking in one way or the other. The leaves are used as plates to eat on, and of course the fruit is one of the most favorite parts of the plant. Banana Blossoms are used frequently in south Indian food - especially in Kerala. It takes a little bit of prep - but the result is a wonderful, mild dish which is also extremely healthy.
Spicy Banana Blossoms
1 Banana Blossom, peeled and chopped
1 cup or more Yogurt, mixed with 1 cup water and salt, to taste
2-3 tbsp Coconut, grated
1 large Onion, chopped fine
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Urad Dal
2-3 Green chillies, chopped
2-3 Curry Leaves
Here's the lovely banana blossom.
Peel off the lovely red petals, and you'll find a bunch of tiny yellow and white flowers. Each petal houses several of these flowers. Put the flowers in a bowl as you peel off the petals. As you go deeper into the blossom, you'll find smaller flowers that are white and tender. Save all the flowers.
Each flower consists of 4 parts - one long outer cover, one short outer cover, one white hard thread with a tiny head and lots of little thread-like sheaths. Remove the long outer cover and the hard thread, as shown here. Repeat for all the flowers. You can read more about this here.
Chop up the remaining bits.
Soak the chopped bits in the yogurt mixture for atleast 15-20 minutes. This gets rid of any bitterness that the flowers might have.
Heat a saucepan with the oil. Throw in the mustard seeds, urad dal, onions, curry leaves and green chillies. Saute until the onions are browned.
Drain most of the yogurt from the soaking flowers (don't drain it completely - the yogurt adds a nice flavor to the dish). Add handfuls of the flowers at a time to the cooking onions. Continue to stir fry. When you've added all the flowers, add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover and let cook for about twenty minutes. Check on it a couple of times and drizzle with water if it appears too dry.
When cooked and soft, sprinkle with the grated coconut. Serve warm with rice or rotis.
This is off to Rachna @ Soul Food for this month's JFI - Flower Power. JFI was originally started by Indira of Mahanandi.