Banana/ Plantain plants are one of the most versatile plant you can find. Almost every part of the plant, not just the fruit, is eaten. What is the difference between a banana and a plantain. A plantain is a starchier banana which is used both raw and ripe. They are usually larger than a regular banana. The raw plantain is used extensively in cooking and is cooked extensively in India, the Caribbean, Central and South America and parts of Africa and South Asia. The ripe plantains can be steamed or deep fried. The spices added to it are different in different parts of the world but it all starts with the humble plantain. The plantain stem, flower and fruit can be eaten. The banana stem is very high in fibre and good for you. The leaves are used as plates or package food and they are biodegradable.
I had posted a raw plantain roast sometime ago: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2019/03/22/vazhakkai-roast-raw-banana-stir-fry/ and podimas- substitute raw plantain for potatoes https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2018/04/01/mashed-potato-the-indian-way-potato-podimas-urulaikizhangu-podimas/and here is a recipe of my banana bread: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2016/11/02/banana-bread/
My sisters in law, Pushkala and Brinda, sent me recipes that they had cooked with the banana stem and banana peel. You can also cook the banana flower too. These recipes are traditionally from the South of India.
pushkala’s Vazhai Thandu Pachadi (Plantain Stem Curry)
- Oil hands before cutting the plantain stains as they can stain your fingers. Cut vazhai thandu (plantain stem) into small pieces and wash in water mixed with little yogurt. This avoids discoloring of the stem. Use a wooden stick or chopstick and twirl in the water. A lot of the fibre entangles in the stick, remove and discard. You may find chopped plantain stem which will make your life easier
- Soak one lime sized tamarind and extract juice or use 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
- Pressure cook cut vazhai thandu (plantain stem) in tamarind extract with salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon jaggery/ brown sugar
- In a blender, grind 3 tablespoon grated coconut, 1/4 spoon mustard seeds and 2 green chillies into a paste
- Add paste to cooked vazhai thandu and cook well
- In a pan, take a tsp of coconut oil, add mustard, red chillies and curry leaves
- Garnish with 1/2 tsp mustard seeds,5-6 curry leaves and 2 red chillies. When the mustard seeds splutter, pour over pachadi and serve with steamed rice or any indian breads
Plantain peel with green gram (moong) curry
This is a recipe from Brinda: Invariably every year I buy some raw nendran banana fruit for making chips. For the chips, the fruit is peeled, sliced and deep fried in oil.
Then, I use the peel to make a curry.
Before peeling the fruit, I wash it thoroughly in water and then peel. This peel, rich in fibre and nutrients is cut into small pieces. To one cup of peel, add one cup of green gram or cow pea and cook in a pressure cooker with little water and turmeric powder under medium flame for about 10 minutes. (Allow about six whistles in an indian pressure cooker). (or in instant pot for 4 minutes). When the pressure subsides, open the pan add salt and cook. Grind one tablespoon of grated coconut, 3 red dry chillies and one teaspoon peppercorns. Add this mixture into the pan and cook for about five minutes. Remove from flame and garnish with curry leaves and add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Serve with steamed rice or chapati/ roti.