Monday, May 19, 2014

A Dish Made Of Banana Blossom

Banana blossom cooked with spices

In our cuisine banana blossoms are traditionally made into hon, naphlam shaphinyaba and mudru. The tender portions are also steamed and made into chutney with or without dried fish. All of  these preparations are made without the use of oil. When it comes to preparations with oil I love the fritters and the sabzi that totally changes the appearance of the vegetable.

Fritters made with the blossoms/onions/chillies & served with  mango chutney
The following recipe is of the dish shown in the first picture.

1 medium banana blossom
4 medium boiled potatoes, quartered
2 onions, grated
1 quarter tsp freshly grated ginger
About 6 cloves of garlic, ground
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped fine
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
A quarter tsp turmeric powder
1 level tsp coarsely grated pepper powder
Garam masala paste made from 3 cardamom pods, a few cloves, and one stick of cinnamon
Tejpatta, 3 or 4
Dried chillies soaked and ground to a paste
1 star anise
3 tbs mustard oil
Finely chopped serrated coriander for the garnish
Note:- The coriander and cumin seeds are roasted separately and powdered.
After the water is drained

  • Remove a few outermost bracts of the banana flower. Banana flowers stain badly so one should be careful while handling them. Oil your hands before you start. 
  • For other recipes (as in the second picture) the stigma and the papery portions are removed from each individual flower but in this case the whole flower (bracts and all) is chopped up. That is, after removing the harder outer bracts. When you get into the heart of the vegetable, that conical portion can be cut off.
  • Blanch the chopped vegetable for a few minutes. Drain, cool, and squeeze out the water. 
  • Alternately you could cut a lemon and squeeze out the juice into a pan of water. As you start to chop up the blossom, keep adding  the chopped pieces to the water. This will prevent oxidization.To prevent the browning the chopped vegetable is also soaked in watery buttermilk. This is another option. 
  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan. When it comes to smoking point, add the star anise and the tejpatta. 
  • Then add the onions. Fry till they turn translucent. Add the rest of the spices excluding the garam masala.  Stir. Put in the tomatoes and the boiled/soaked vegetable. Continue to cook till the dish looks almost done and the oil separates. Add the potatoes. 
  • Stir and put the lid on. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add the garam masala and remove the pot from the flame. Transfer the contents to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped herbs.
The different stages of cooking banana blossom
Usually coriander leaves or serrated coriander leaves are used but since I didn't have any on that day, I decorated the dish with some chopped chives. This preparation goes well as an accompaniment with rice or roti.

I usually keep the larger flowers (after removing the outer bracts) aside. These are then cleaned as shown in the largest picture in the collage above, to be made into fritters.

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