Banana blossom or Banana flower is another popular vegetable from Asia which I hardly see here in the Uk. Once in a while some asian grocery stores stock it up and I get very excited when I see them because is reminds me of back home. It is called Vazha poo or Vazhakoombu in south India (Kerala). I belive it is used in most of the south east asian countries like Thailand, Burma and Vietnam.
Banana flowers hang like a tear drop shape at the end of banana clusters and every evening one layer of petal opens and a bunch of white flowers are exposed. Sqirrels and small birds visit the blosoms in the evenings to enjoy the fresh nector from the flowers.
They are a very nutritious vegetable with lots of vitamin A and C and packed with dietary fibre. Unfortunately not may research has been done about this vegetable and we don’t know much about the nutritional properties. Who knows, one day this humble bud might enter the super food list?
Preparing banana flower involves a simple but a little tedious process of removing the bitterness. I suggest wearing gloves or rubbing your hands with vegetable oil just before handling as the bitter juices may stain your hands.
Get ready a bowl full of cold water, add a squeeze of lemon juice or a table spoon of buttermilk.
Peel the outer leaves of the banana flower until you get a soft pale layer with slight purple colour. Cut the vegetable and soak in the prepared water immedietly. If you leave it out for long time it will start oxidising and turn a dark brwn colour. Soak in the water for ten to fifteen munutes and then squeeze the water out and rinse again until the water runs clear.
Keep in a colander ready to use.
In South East Asian countries it is mostly turned into salads and I had a delicious Banana Blossom salad from Thailand when I went there some time ago.The salad was so refreshing withfresh lime juice and fish sauce as dressing, topped with crushed peanuts, thin slices of shallots and lots of fresh coriander leaves. To me it was a totally new experience because in south India it is usually eaten cooked and never as a salad.
In Kerala it is mostly made into the traditional thoran- stir fried with fragrant mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh grated coconut. My mom makes sure I get it every time I go back home as she knows this is one of my favourites.
I like to make it into tiny kebabs which is very popular with adults as well as kids. You can serve it as a snack or as a vegetarian starter. They are surprisingly easy and the flavour of banana blossom comes through eventhough it is combined with boiled mashed potatoes.
BANANA BLOSSOM KEBAB
- Oil-1 tablespoon
- Mustard seeds-1teaspoon
- Chopped onion- 1/4 cup
- Chilli powder-1/4 teaspoon
- Coriander powder-1/4 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder-1/4 teaspoon
- Garam masala-1 teaspoon
- Chopped banana blossom-2 cups
- Potato(boiled and mashed)-1cup
- Bread crumbs
- Oil for deep frying
- Heat one table spoon of oil and pop the mustard seeds until fragrant, add chopped onion and saute until they are tender.
- Add the powdered spices and mix with prepared banana blossom, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove from fire and add the mashed potatoes,cool down and then make into small patties.
- Coat with whisked egg and bread crumbs and deep fry to golden colour.
- Serve hot with sweet chilli sauce.