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Also Known as
Kele ka phool, Banana Blossom, Ngapyaw phoo, Puso, Kehel Mal.
A large, purplish blossom that grows from the end of a bunch of bananas. The leaves enclose scented flowers. The outer leaves are much darker and tougher compared to the tender inner leaves which are used in cooking. It is treated as a vegetable in several tropical and Asian cuisines.
Do note that the cut ends of banana flower oozes a sap which is sticky and stains the hands and clothes if precaution is not taken. Thus, it is better to rub your hands with oil before cutting banana flower.
The tough outer leaves which are called bracts are first removed and then the remaining flower can be steamed whole till tender or for around 15 minutes. Allow to cool and then chop or slice as required. In case you don't steam the banana flower, chop the banana flowers and soak in buttermilk till use. Buttermilk prevents excess sap from sticking and avoids the flowers from turning black.
How to select
Select a flower that is firm and fresh. The outer leaves should have a smooth appearance, bright and free from blemishes and cuts. The outer leaves should overlap tightly. They are available wrapped in transparent plastic, which keeps them from drying out quickly.
· A fresh, tender banana flower can be sliced and served raw. In Thailand, it is often accompanied by a hot and spicy dip called Nam Prik.
· South Indians make a very simple yet delicious recipe in which the chopped banana flower is steamed with salt, tempered with mustard seeds, urad dal , curry leaves and asafoetida and topped with grated coconut.
· Other Asian and Indian cuisines add the sliced banana flower to meat stews, stir-fries, soups, and rice or noodle combinations.
· It is also used in cold salads, with the salad mixture presented in one of the large purple-red outer leaves/ bracts.
How to store
Banana Flower is best used fresh. However, if not used right away, cover in zip lock bags, wrap in transparent plastic or freeze bags and store under refrigerated conditions.
· Banana flower is known to help increase progesterone hormone which reduces bleeding during menstruation. Thus, for people suffering from painful menstruation and excess bleeding, having cooked banana flower with curd or buttermilk is beneficial.
· It is considered to be a good source of vitamin A and C.
· It is traditionally believed to be beneficial as a lactating agent.