Banana flower is an edible flower that blossoms in a banana plant and they hang like tear-drop-shaped-pendants at the end of the banana clusters. They are native to tropical countries : India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Phillipines, China and are widely used in soups, stir fries, curries and fritters. They are sold in Asian grocery stores year round.The inner petals also called as bracts are the edible parts. Don’t even think about eating it raw, as it will leave a bitter taste in the tongue. If you are really curious to taste it, eat them after soaking in water for 30 minutes. It will be slightly crunchy in texture and delicate in taste. The banana flower has a deep magenta covering which could be peeled as layers. It can be found in most Indian households. My grandmother has two trees in her backyard and her banana fruit tastes as sweet as honey and instead of plates, we eat in banana leaf. We discard the leaves after our meal, just like use-and-throw plates.
The entire banana plant: the shoot,leaves, fruits, flower are used for cooking. The plant will fruit only once, after bearing the fruit, the plant will be cut and every part will be used for cooking and eating. The huge leaves are used as serving plates (organic plates) or cooked with fish/vegetables to create steamed delicacies. The fibrous threads that could be pulled out of the shoot is used to make flower garlands in India.
Always look for firm varieties and wrap them tight in a plastic foil until use, to retain the freshness. First wash the flower under running tap water. The cleaning will stain the hands, so use a kitchen gloves or apply cooking oil before doing this. This will prevent the sticky sap sticking to your hand and that leaves nasty black colour for few days. The cooking preparation begins with removing the bitter sap from the redbracts, which is definitely a tedious process. Remove all the red outer covering until you reach an ivory colored bulb called Banana Blossom Heart. First remove the outer manganta outer layer, pull out the tender yellow tipped florets. As you remove, store them in water. A black stigma and transparent covering which will taste bitter needs to be pulled out before chopping. Chop off the florets and white bulb to smaller pieces and place them in water. This helps in preventing discoloration.
Stir Fried Banana Flower
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp chana dal
- 1 tbsp urad dhal
- 1-2 dry red chilli halved
- hing/asafoetida a pinch
- 5-8 curry leaves
- 1 banana flower
- 1 large red onion diced
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut fresh
- Boil water in a cooking pan. Add the banana flower to a boiling water pot and cook for 10 minutes, until they are soft and done. Drain the water through a colander and squeeze with the hand to remove any excess water. Set them aside.
- Heat oil in a cooking pan and once the oil ripples, add mustard seeds to it. Let it pop, add channa dal, urad dal and halved red chillies. Now add asafoetida and curry leaves and mix well, approximately 30 seconds.
- Mix in finely chopped onion and saute on a medium flame till they turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric and mix well.
- Add the cooked banana flower to the pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes at medium flame till they are mixed well with the spices.
- Add salt to taste and sprinkle grated coconut on top and cook for another 2-3 minutes.