‘Life cannot exist without trees.’
In gratitude for all the fruits and flowers, bees and butterflies that Nature surrounds us with, here is a post, from our very home garden.
Its summer, and our small kitchen and flower garden is blooming! Hubby spends hours of hard work in preparing soil, planting and caring, researching about plants, their care, fertilizers and composting methods. I do my teeny bit preparing the kitchen waste for composting. Gardening is indeed very rewarding! Every new leaf or flower brings a sparkle to the eyes, a visiting butterfly or bird (and oh no! caterpillars, insects) brings a smile (or a frown).
”All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seed of today.”
It’s been over a year we have planted banana plant of Cavendish variety. The plant ( it is not a tree) yields only one fruit bloom, then it needs to be cut down so as to encourage new growth from the rhizome. In case few suckers (small plant shoots) spring up, only the healthiest is left to grow, the others are discarded. The plant grows in sub tropics, needs plenty of well drained moist soil. There are different varieties of bananas – some for dessert, raw ones for vegetable or chips. South East Asia, Sri Lanka, coastal India, Hawaii and Fiji islands are top growers of this plant. Interestingly! every region has its own story and culture around this much revered plant.
For Story Time check these: Monkey and banana plant, Banana tree and Goddess Laxmi, Kepler and Rust in HanaHou magazine talk about preserving bananas in Hawaii.
Every part of this plant is useful, thus the importance becomes meaningful.The trunk is hollow from inside, the broad leaves are used as bio-plates to serve food to the Gods and guests, as suggested in a Vedic ritual, the flowers make for a delicious curry, and the fruit easily slips into desserts, porridge, snack, fritters and more.
The plant is a gigantic herb, with a false stem- made of of layers of sheath. It produces a flowering spike, that drops down with its own weight. The deep purple/pink calyx or bracts tightly enclose the yellowish white long flowers. There could be up to 10-15 bracts, tightly bound. They open up slowly revealing the florets. The last few florets that do not open are then cut off, so as to let the other florets bloom and grow into banana fruit.
Here I am engaging in a fascinating science lesson at home! Everyday we checked if another bract had opened, when could we cut off the unopened bloom? Why is it important? How tall did this plant grow? How these broad leaves are sturdier than other banana plant leaves that are often sold in markets. What will the hollow sheath look like once the plant is cut? How do you cut and grow the sucker shoot?
As we wait for the tiny bananas to grow plump and change colour, this is the first time I prepared this exotic vegetable. My mother used to cook it differently, using tuvar dal and not adding any peanuts or shredded coconut.
Banana Flower Vegetable /Vazhapoo Thooran/ Kele ke phool ki Sabji
The preparation time to clean the florets is very time consuming, and the yield is small. But EXOTIC it is!
Ingredients: ( difficult to give exact amounts, as it depends on yield and taste)
Cleaned up florets, ( stamen and white sheath covering to be removed)
diluted buttermilk ( yoghurt diluted very watery)
peanut powder (optional, if allergic)
For tempering: oil, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder, salt and chilli powder ( or dry red chillies) to taste.
Cleaning the flower:
Oil your palm, else they turn dark colour! Open each bract carefully, remove each floret. Open each one to remove the black stamen and the clear white sheath cover of each floret. YES EACH one! These will not cook! ( I can hear you grumble, mumble).
Cut the remainder of the florets and soak in very diluted buttermilk. Prepare the tempering, hear the splutter and the aroma bursting. Put in the florets, discarding the watery liquid. Add salt and chillies, sprinkle the coconut and peanut powder. Cover, cook on low flame, adjust little water, to cook, so it does not become dry.
Serve hot with warm rice. (Jasmine or jeera rice will be great!
It does not store well, as it goes bit bitter. I served it fresh and warm.
If you have another way of making this, please post your comments. Is you have never seen the bloom, how do you feel? Where do you live?
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