It is much the same with the banana plant. We use every part of it except perhaps the roots! The raw fruit is cooked and eaten, as is the ripe fruit. Even the flowers of the banana plant are cooked in different ways. Traditionally, we use the leaves for steam-cooking certain food s in as well as for serving meals. The banana leaf as a plate means no plates to wash and the used leaves are completely biodegradable and often fed to cows. The stem of the plant yields strong fibre, and in some varieties is also cooked and eaten.
I haven’t posted too many raw banana and related recipes mostly because I haven’t been able to find the “core” ingredients here where I live. I see a lot of banana plants here but it seems people here eat only the ripe fruit. It’s a different matter that I don’t particularly like raw banana.
My vegetable vendor looked surprised that I wanted to buy them and asked, “Aap is ka kya karte ho? Iska subzi banathe ho? Accha lagta he kya?” (Translation: “What do you do with this? Make a curry? Does it taste good/ Do you like it?”) I picked up 2 small ones to make into a traditional stir-fry sort of preparation. Banana flowers are very easy to make and take very little time to cook. What takes time and a lot of effort is removing the flowers, cleaning and chopping them.
Banana flowers are best cooked fresh and tend to a bit bitter. The bitterness can be removed but some varieties of banana flowers do remain bitter no matter what. The bitterness comes largely from the sap in the flowers. Trimming off the base of the flowers and removing the stamen in each of the more mature flowers is a must. Then the flowers are chopped and immersed in diluted buttermilk or very sour yogurt. This also ensures the flowers do not discolour and turn dark brown/ black.
There are many different ways of cooking with banana flowers. This time I chose to cook it as a "thoran/ poduthuval" which is a sort of South Indian style stir-fry finished off with fresh grated coconut. There are many versions of this, and my version contains lentils.
Though I may not like eating banana flower preparations much, I went a bit trigger happy with my camera and hence the overdose of banana flower photography!