Monday, July 28, 2008

Spicy Banana Blossoms

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

For tempering:
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.

36 comments:

Peter M said...

This was a wonderful lesson to a sheltered westerner like me but I would love to try this out...fascinating!

Dragon said...

I hope someday, I'll be able to try this. So lovely.

Nidhi said...

Thanks for exposing us to a completely different dish. Seems like that requires a lot of effort. Wonder if I would be able to try that someday, both me and my hubby are verrry choosy eaters :(

I used your recipe of Spaetzle for MBP, Less is More. Check it out!

Arundathi said...

Peter - I do hope someday you'll try it out. I know it must be difficult to find banana blossoms in the West.

Dragon - I do hope so too - thanks!

Nidhi - Yes, it is a little time-consuming but well worth the effort. and so healthy! off to check out your post...thanks.

delhibelle said...

So many times I have wanted to debitter the blossoms,and cook sabzi but always chicken out because I was not sure how.
Your pictorial guide inspires me. Thanks:)

vegeyum said...

Amazing! I love banana flowers and have had them in all sorts of SE Asian and Indian cuisine, but never knew what to do with them.

Nags said...

what a lovely entry and i love ur title :)

Nupur said...

What a delicacy! Thank you for this informative post and the beautiful pictures.

Srivalli said...

how smart anu..vazla pu never struck me!!!..:(..I would've made the vada...:(

Srivalli said...

forgot to say that your dish looks yummy!

Ranjani said...

Very cool- I saw this on "Bizzare food", Anthony Zimmerman was in some restaurant kitchen in Delhi,trying this,wanted to get my hands on some, ever since.
The banana flower itself looks so pretty:)

Sia said...

i literally grew up wating many dishes cooked using banana flowers. pity that i dont get them here or else i would have been forced to change my blog name to banana flower spice;) lovely pics with wonderful recipe arundati.

bee said...

i tried making this once and all i can say is 'disaster'. my mom used to cook it right and i remember it being delicious.

TBC said...

I've only used the canned version and it was just awful!
I like the way u have served it in the large petal...

gocbep said...

What a healthy dish!
Btw, we also eat banana blossoms a lot in Vietnam.

Vani said...

Love the presentation!

Fresh from the Source said...

I have never heard of this and have never seen a banana blossom. Would love to try them. The photos are lovely. Thanks for the opportunity to see something new.

Arundathi said...

Delhibelle - I do hope you try it now! :)

Vegeyum - So glad! :D

Nags - thanks!

Nupur - My pleasure. Thank you!

Valli - Thanks. You can still make the vadai y'know!

Ranjani - Lol - i guess one man's bizarre is another's food! :D

Sia - Thank you! I love that name - banana flower spice!

Bee - yes, it is delicious. requires a little patience in prep but well worth the effort.

TBC - oh i'm sure it tastes awful canned! and thanks.

gocbep - yes, i guess most south and SE asian countries use a lot of banana blossoms in their food.

Vani - thank you!

Fresh from the Source - Thank you very much for stopping by.

Aparna said...

I don't like raw banana cooked, except as chips, but this is something we love. And made frequently as we had a lot of banana plants in our backyard.

Poonam said...

I have always tried mine in some form of cooked daal, coconut sounds exciting.

Bellini Valli said...

It's amazing what a person can learn each day..this is a new one to me and sounds so interesting.

A_and_N said...

Wow, Vazhaippooo! Good old traditional south Indian preparation :) We also make rasam out of it.

Aparna Inguva said...

Its been ages since I had the banana flower! The sabzi looks delicious served in petals. At home mom makes banana flowers in a black mustard paste gravy. Thanks for a lovely detailed post

Arundathi said...

Aparna - :)

Poonam - oh dal sounds great. I've had it fried but like this better.

Valli - So glad! yes, its true - there's always so much to learn.

A&N - oh rasam - what a great idea!

Aparna Inguva - wow that sounds great too - would love to get that recipe - I do hope to see it on your blog soon! :)

Bhavani said...

nice presentation.I always make mine like a paruppu usilli.nice to have one more way to cook it.thanks.

Jude said...

We also use this a lot in Filipino cooking. I really miss the taste and I haven't had it in a long while.

arundati said...

omg....i've eaten this a couple of times at "other people's homes" but had no idea it was so labour intense.....the next time i want this, i will invite myself over to your place!! the pictorial was great.....

Shreya said...

Lovely entry! Great pics and presentation..This brings back many memories for me, Amma makes this without the yogurt..and we use red chillies, urad dal, and rice as seasoning. wish i could have some now...

Shreya said...

Lovely entry! Great pics and presentation..This brings back many memories for me, Amma makes this without the yogurt..and we use red chillies, urad dal, and rice as seasoning. wish i could have some now...

VEGETABLE PLATTER said...

we make tambuli in a similar manner, havent tried ur version. looks great

Arundathi said...

thanks everyone.

bhavani - didn't know we could get it there?

arundati - anytime babe!

Sukanya said...

Vazhapoo is good for health. Amma used to force me to eat but I wouldnt but after seeing your recipe Iam surely going to try it out. You have a lovely blog and some fantastic pictures. Thanks for explaining in detail how to peel the flowers as this was always difficult for me to understand due to which I never attempted to buy vazhapoo in Singapore.

Bhavani said...

oh we do. C Hill stocks them throughout the year :)

Arundathi said...

Sukanya - I do hope you try it - its lovely and healthy!

Bhavani - that's so cool! C. Hill rocks!

Sunshinemom said...

Such a nice way to introduce the flower, Anu! I had heard of this subzi but did not know the recipe! Thanks:)

Chris De La Rosa said...

Growing up in the Caribbean all we knew about the banana flowers were the bees that would buzz around and the sticky milk-like liquid that would drain from it (we called it "stain"). When we moved to Canada I noticed that the same flowers were sold in the Asian markets and I was quite puzzled as to what they would do with it/ lesson learned.. thanks.