banana

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Also known as
Banane, Kela, Vaazhapayam, Fruit Bananas

Description
It is the fruit of the banana tree, originating in India and cultivated in tropical regions like Africa, West Indies and South America. Each plant/ tree bears around 45 to 150 bananas having a white fleshy and sweet pulp. They are different from plantain bananas which are cooked as vegetables. They come in various varieties and can have a yeallow to pink to red to purplish outer skin. The flavour of these fruit varieties will also change accordingly. Bananas are widely cultivated for export and in such situations they are harvested green and shipped where the temperature they are stored in is around 16 to 20 degree Celsius.
Bananas are also available in the dry form and are usually eaten by sportsmen since the have high energy value than fresh bananas.

Banana cubes
To make banana cubes, peel the banana and place on a chopping board. Using a knife, cut at the centre of the banana lengthwise to get two equal halves. Join the halves and breadth wise cut at ½ inch/ 1 inch or at regular intervals to make banana cubes. Cubes are used mainly in fruit salads.
Chopped bananas
To make chopped banana, peel the banana and place on a chopping board. Using a knife, cut at the centre of the banana lengthwise to get two equal halves. Cut equal strips from both the halves and then join all the strips together. Breadth wise chop at regular intervals to make chopped bananas.
Mashed bananas
Chop the banana into rough slices and place in a food processor along with cream/ sugar (optional) and blend till well mashed. Mashed banana is used in banana brad, cake recipes etc.
Sliced bananas
Peel the outer skin of the banana using a knife or a vegetable peeler. Place on a chopping board. Using a knife, cut the top "branch like" portion of the banana. Now keep the knife at a slant or straight and slit the banana lengthwise into 2 equal halves. Now cut each half across the length at regular intervals to get slices as required.

How to select
Check for smooth skin without any blemishes, specially at the "eye" of the banana (ie the top end of bananas).They should be fairly firm and not over ripe. You can select amongst various varieties that are available in the market.

Culinary Uses
· Delicious on its own, it can be peeled and eaten just like that.
· It is an integral part of fruits salads served with cream, custard etc.
· It can also be cooked and mashed and used in many sweet dishes like sweet appams, banana kheer, Panchamrutam etc.
· Use it in sweet omelettes, flans etc to add flavour.
· Banana is cooked and mashed as a puree to be given to children. It acts as "first foods" since it is easy to digest and is a flavour liked by children too.
· Banana is widely used in fruit flambé where it is cooked in butter and sugar till it caramelizes and then combined with alcohol. This make a delicious dessert.
· Who doesn't know the famous banana split? Sundae with different ice creams, sliced bananas and toppings makes this a heavy, yet exciting dessert.
· Dip sliced bananas in batter and deep fry to make banana fritters.
· Cakes can be flavoured by adding banana puree in the basic batter for a unique recipe.
· Bananas are processed and used in ice creams.

How to store
Well protected by their skin, they can continue to ripen even after purchase and can be kept at normal temperatures for several days. However, note that it is advisable not to store them under refrigerated conditions since they have a tendency to turn black at low temperatures.


Health Benefits
· It has high energy value (since it consists of sugars and fiber) and thus an ideal food for growing children.
· It is high in Vitamin A, C and K. Apart from this, it is high in starch and potassium. Potassium helps normalize the heartbeat and regulates the body's water balance. During high stress situations, when the levels of potassium dip, eating bananas is beneficial.
· They are relatively high in iron, which help in regulating hemoglobin.
· They help restore normal bowel movements. Pectin present in banana helps normalize movement through the digestive tract.
· Bananas can increase our body's ability to absorb calcium.
· Being low in sodium, they can reduce chances of high blood pressure.




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