Hey dear readers, how was your weekend? Here it snowed a bit, weatherwise (is there even a word like that??...but you got the meaning right? ;-)
Me and Bub have not been keeping well from last month. In other words or in my Hub's words, it's a case of "Ping Pong ball". Meaning, we have been transferring our stuffy nose and coughs for a while now. Just when I thought Bub was over his cold, I just transferred mine (which I caught from him apparently)....hmm, well yesterday was the worse of the lot , and hopefully this will go away in another few days...
Hub has this way of shopping groceries where he picks up some unique product which both of us have no clue about, and would curiously wait to see what I make out of it. He leaves the R & D part of the product to me. There were successful ones that have since been a staple , and some others that still intrigues us and they eventually either rots in refrigerator making their way to the trash can, or gets bumps and bruises by being used as a pretend play toy by Bub when I run out of ideas :-P
One of the successful ones is the Swiss Chard, they were pretty easy to figure out, and have been a staple ever since. Some that got the fag end of the deal from me includes Belgian Endives ,.... after I used it, the taste was not something I could adjust even on a parched and hungry day. It might have something to do with the way I cooked or the seasoning I added (or the lack of it in both cases :-\ ...Either ways, it's never made a re entry again, lol. Do you have a mystery ingredient that made it or didn't make it ? I would love to hear all about it :-)
All this talk about unique and mystery ingredients has nothing to do with today's post about Banana Flower, since it's something I grew up seeing, tasting, playing etc....But to those who have never seen, heard or used it, it can very well be a mystery ingredient and the chances of it ending up in trash due to insufficient knowledge of handling/cooking it is relatively high :-).....So my intention here is to give a step step pictorial representation, from handling it, to cooking it to delicate perfection :-) (yes you read it right, "delicate perfection", meaning it doesn't need any roasting or super high flame to roast it , unlike what the pic of a Banana Flower might make you believe....read on so that you might not end up tossing it away just yet :-) ....
"Banana Flower" is the dark magenta colored conical thing that you can see on a Banana plant. You may refer wikipedia for all kinda scientific information and terms that might describe it to you. But I was not satisfied or even understood half of the scientific jargons.on wiki this time. Hence I googled further and found this website extremely well explaining it in simple words. It's basically the male bud characterized by it's red/magenta color and conical shape.It would be incomplete and unfair if I didn't mention that I could not have done the preparation , cooking etc without Bub "helping" me :-) ,you can see his hands doing some serious scrubbing in one of the pics, while playing with the petals in another :-)
How to prepare the Banana Flower for cooking:
Note: This process can stain your hands and maybe clothes, so take precautions accordingly. Also it's quite labor intensive, so it's not for a time pressed day.
Start by peeling of one petal at a time. You will see a neatly arranged layer of finger shaped flowers. Pluck them together away with care. You basically don't use the purple petals, only the finger shaped flowers , that has to undergo some more preparation. Keep peeling the petal, and the flowers. What you will notice is that the petals , flowers, and thereby the cone gets lighter and lighter in color. Continue until the petals can no longer be peeled away. Do not discard of what remains of the cone (cut the stalk at the base of the cone at this point, it's not used for cooking like the petals). The cone can be chopped into smaller bits to be used in the stir fry.
Remember I mentioned that the flowers too gets lighter in color? They also get too delicate to dissect with hands. Why I mentioned the dissect part is because, there is a stalk inside each one of those flowers, that needs to be discarded, else can completely spoil the dish. It's distinguished from the rest of the stalks by a round nub like tip (you can see that I marked this stalk in the pic) . Just pluck them out and away from the flower. Do this for all the dark colored flowers. The ones inside the lighter ones are tender and don't matter when it's cooked.
Once this is done, the preparation part is as good as over, ....just mince the prepared flowers. Add the flowers and the chopped cone in lots of water. Swirl with your hands to separate any debris. Discard the water. Do this three times to get rid of dirt and maybe a bit of the sticky sap like residue.
How to make stir fry:
You need these ingredients:
Grated coconut: 1/2 cup
Garlic minced : 1 tablespoon
A pinch of turmeric, hing, and salt to flavor oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons oil
In a pan heat oil, and reduce flame to medium. Splutter mustard seeds, a pinch of chilli powder, and hing (asafoetida), and pinch of salt to flavor the oil. Add the minced ingredients, and a pinch.of turmeric. You may also add a teaspoon of minced garlic for extra taste :-) .Cover and cook until it's lost the raw flavor (it tastes extremely starchy while raw, think raw potato), and after cooking, tastes less starchy, yes that's all I can come up with to describe it's taste.It tastes great with grated coconut.
So once it's all cooked, add grated coconut, mix well, then cover and let it cook another minute for the flavors to infuse. Check for salt. And it's ready to serve with hot rice, and dal.
Hope this post has inspired you to try this vegetable. And it's less a mystery than before ? :-)
Happy experimenting !