1 September 2014

Banana Stem Specials

The Banana tree is a wonder in itself. Not only are its different parts edible and used in different culinary preparations, they also have amazing healing properties.
The banana(plantain) leaf is rich in chlorophyll and it has been an age old tradition in many parts of the world to serve food on Banana leaves. The leaf is also used as a wrap in many steamed dishes which lends a unique and extremely healthy flavour and quality to the preparation.
The use of the banana flower and stem have amazing healing properties where the overall digestive system is concerned. The stem especially is known to be so effective that it is believed to help clear Kidney stones!!!

Recently I had a completely detoxifying meal at Sanjeevanam, the Kerala Veg restaurant, where none of the curries are cooked in oil. One of them was steamed banana stem curry which was simply too good.

I list here few simple recipes using the banana stem that can only do good, and taste excellent as well.

Tip : Ask the vegetable vendor to help you select as tender a stem as possible. The best method to cut it right for any dish is :
- Peel the outer layers till you are left with a slender pearl white tube that looks like it cannot be peeled further
- Cut into discs, you might encounter thick fibre on the surface, simply wrap them around your index finger and continue slicing
- Once you have sliced the stem tube, stack them a few at a time and chop them into 1 cm long pieces. For salads, use the discs as a whole.
- Soak them in diluted sour buttermilk till ready to be used in the preparation. This prevents them from changing colour, i,e, darkening.


                                                             BANANA STEM SALAD

Ingredients :

Tender Banana Stem - 1 (sliced into discs)
Green chili - 1 long
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Method :

1. Add the sliced banana stem into a salad bowl.
2. Add the lemon juice, sliced green chili and salt to taste. Mix well. Let rest for 10-12 minutes.
3. Serve.

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                                                               BANANA STEM CURRY

Ingredients :

Banana stem - 1 (Sliced and chopped)
Salt to taste
Dessicated coconut - 2 tbsps
Curry leaves

Tempering :

Oil - 1 tbsp
Rai - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Dry Red Chili - 1

1. Soak the chopped stem in sour buttermilk till ready to use. Strain and cook with water and salt to taste till well done. Strain the water and keep the stem aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, let crackle. Add the Urad dal and red chili and saute for a bit.

3. Add the cooked banana stem pieces and stir well. Check for salt and adjust accordingly if needed. Add the dessicated coconut and curry leaves and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes and remove.
Serve hot.

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                                             BANANA STEM STEW (MOR KOOTTU)


Ingredients :

Tender Banana Stem - 1 (Sliced and chopped)
Slightly sour whisked curds - 1 cup
Haldi - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - a few

To grind to a paste :

Jeera - 1 tsp
Grated coconut - 3 tbsps
Dry Red Chilies - 2

Tempering :

Oil - 1 tsp
Rai - 1 tsp

Method :

1. As mentioned above, soak the chopped banana stem in buttermilk till ready to use. Strain and cook in water along with haldi and salt till well done. Drain the water and keep the cooked stem aside.

2. Soak the jeera, red chilies and coconut in a little water to soften. Grind them to a paste in a mixer.

3. In a saucepan, add the whisked sour curds and add the ground paste. Stir and cook on a low flame to avoid curdling.

4. Add the cooked stem and curry leaves as well and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Check for salt and adjust if required. If the stew is a bit runny, mix 1 tsp rice flour in 1 tbsp water and add to the pan.

5. For the tempering, heat oil and add the rai. Once it splutters add to the stew. Serve hot.

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