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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post ~ Saravana's Banana Flower Fry / Poriyal / vepudu

I met Saravana Kumar through a friend. In the few days of knowing him, I loved our common love for food and the will and interest..No..a strong need to experiment with ingredients. He is among those very few single men who can actually cook - really well! I need to mention his sense of humour and his meticulous (food experiments) documenting skills (I have been planning to do that for ever!!). I am so glad to have met another soul who has a holistic approach to food and cooking.

So over to Saravana.... :-)

Banana Flower Recipe
Banana Flower (Arati Puvvu in Telugu, Vazhai Poo in Tamil), which may also be called banana blossom, is used as a vegetable in India, especially in South India. It is known to have many medicinal values
Owing to its cumbersome process in cooking this flower, this recipe is not tied often. However, it is not so laborious process to cook this flower, if you have some practice. This flower is a classical example for acrid (vagaru in telugu,) taste.

Many 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 to the diner in one of the large purple-red outer bracts.

How to peel the flower for use
I suggest coating the hands with cooking oil prior to working with it  
Banana flower consists of many layers of bracts or petals. Under the layer of each petal are a bunch of florets. Remove the hard pink petals and take out the florets found underneath. Once the tougher, darker outer bracts are pulled away, the paler and tender inner leaves are used in the recipe.

In each floret, you will find a string in the middle with a tiny head and also a small plastic like white cover around it. Both are not edible. Remove both from all the florets. The florets in the upper portion are slightly bigger than the florets in the inner portion. From the big floret, you can easily see these and remove it. But it is little difficult to find the string in the small florets. You have to open each small floret gently by your fingers and remove the string and cover. To do this, take a bunch of florets in one hand and hold the bottom and gently rub the top of the florets in your palm. Now the florets will open up and you will see the strings in each floret. Remove it. When you remove the hard layers, you will find the color of the bract will change from dark pink to a pale yellow and finally end up with a small white bulb The florets in the inner portion will be more tender. You can use the tender florets and the small white bulb as it is. No need to remove string or anything from these.

Then chop all the florets into tiny bits (you can whip them in a blender too) and put in water mixed with little butter milk till you cook the same. This will avoid discoloration of the florets.

And now for the Recipe
Banana Flower: 1 Large bulb / 500 grms 

Salt: to taste 
Spice:  Green Chillies - 3 small, slitted  
Tamarind Pulp / Paste - 2 tsps 
Buttermilk - just enough to soak the chopped florets

Asafoetida : 1 Pinch
Mustard Seeds: ½ spoon
Chana Dal – 1 spoon
Urad Dal  - 1 spoon
Curry Leaves -

Oil / Ghee  - 2-3 spoons 

The Recipe
Tempering:  Add oil in a wok or a pan. Add to it the usual spices, depending on your interest to make the curry as spicy as you like
Add Asafoetida, Mustard seeds, Bengal Gram and Black Gram and fry till they become brown. You can add sufficient amounts of green chilly slices, as per your requirement. Add the sliced florets to the above mixture and boil in a simmer. You can add a little water and boil the mixture till cooked, around 10 minutes on low flame.

Serving Suggestions
Serve hot, along with Rice or Rotis.  Accompaniments with this dish should be usually very tangy or spicy like pickles, chutneys or spicy salads which generally go well with acrid taste.

Other Dishes with Banana Flower:
Banana Flower in Curd - Perugu Pacchadi
Banana Flower Vadai
Banana Flower with Mango - a gravy 

Banana Flower is used in many other cuisines, across many far eastern countries .

Actual lunch menu on the specific day: 
Rice (with urad dal called Mudganna) (center), with Banana Flower Curry (extreme right) along with Moong Dal (left) and Mango Ginger Chutney.

Served in Banana Petals

footnotes (courtesy wiki)
  • Banana flower is considered to be a good source of vitamins A and C. It is considered for its blood purifying qualities and is effective in curing Gynec disorders. It increases hemoglobin levels in the blood and is traditionally believed to be beneficial as a lactating agent.
  • The cut ends of the banana flower leak a sap that will stain skin and other surfaces black. The precaution of rubbing the hands with cooking oil makes cleanup easier. Exercise care while handling so that the flower does not stain your clothes.
  • Banana flower is also treated in several Asian and tropical cuisines as a vegetable. It is known in Japan as ‘Banana no tsubomi’, in Thailand as ‘dok kluai’, in Indonesia as ‘jantung pisang’, in China as ‘Shang chao fua’, in Sri Lanka as ‘kehel mal’. The words “banana flower” are variously translated as “banana blossom,” “banana heart,” or “plantain blossom.”
I appreciate Saravana Kumar to have taken time out to send me this wonderful write up.

Pics and content courtesy: Saravana Kumar

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Heart(h) n Home ~ AnR Lab :)

I have been sharing some amazing kitchen tours on AnR. How could I not share my space on the blog. So here it is...the current AnR lab.

My kitchen is a very cozy space.  An 8 x 8 which opens up to my dining area. It is smaller than my previous kitchen. But works really well for my extensive cooking and baking.

I love my older cabinets and the counter top..have some issue with the stove, but do my best with it!!
and yes, my kitchen looks like this most of the time, minus the dishes over the sink...:)

I  love my vintage glass jars, tin cookie boxes, and keep quite a few cotton hand towels around. I prefer to keep paper towels and styrofoam, plastic and single use items out of my space.

Best part of my kitchen is the tiny window over the sink...It made me say yes to this apartment :)

Lovely view ~ makes my dish washing a breeze :)

Before I end this post, I need to thank all those who are a part of my blogging journey. Thank you for taking time out to leave your comments and making my day :)....My food journal is incomplete without you guys

Do check out my previous kitchen tour posts...>>Here

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snake gourd Seeds and amaranth leaves Thuvayal / masiyal

I generally shy away from sharing my off beat recipes but then thgt why not dare posting something this time :). It hurts when people who cant think out of the box tease me about my cooking. and even say "so what" or its no big deal..hmm what say when it is your own family and friends...hence the "keep it to myself" thgt of mine precedes my posts.. im just too much of a baby and cant handle such things i guess...

The thuvayal recipe is fairly simple with basic ingredients ~ tempering, and flavouring and the base here you go!

all you need
base ingredients
  1. snake gourd seeds - 1/2 cup
  2. amaranth leaves - 1 1/2 cup
  3. garlic - 1 clove (optional) (but would be good with just ginger as well!!)

condiments / flavouring 
  1. salt to taste
  2. tumeric powder- 1 pinch
  3. hing / asafoetida - 1 pinch
  4. Tamarind pulp - 2 tsp
  5. green chillies - 2 

corainder seeds - 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
mustard seeds - 1/4tsp
chana dal - 1/2tsp
moong dal - 1/2 tsp
urad dal - 1/2 tsp
oilve or sunflower oil - 1/2 tsp (according to your choice)
red chilli -1 (optional)
curry leaves - 5-7 (optional)

What you do :

  • Wash and chop Amarnath leaves and set aside to drip dry in a colander
  • peel garlic, and wash the snake gourd seeds and drain
  • In a pan or a kadahi pour olive oil and put in tempering ingredients - mustard, urad dal, chana dal, moong dal and red chilli and cumin and coriander seeds; Saute on medium flame
  • add garlic and the snake gourd seeds, curry leaves, green chillies and saute for another minute or until the seeds look translucent
  • add the leaves and saute for 2-3 minutes
  • add salt, turmeric powder, hing and cook for another minute or so (or until the mixture no longer has a raw smell but looks and smells yummy)
  • transfer to a plate and let the mixture cool
  • Grind (mixture and tamarind paste ) to a fine or a coarse paste (as per your choice for thuvayal / masiyal )
  • Serve with rice or a yummy alternative to regular thuvayals and a great way to include greens in ur diet

Amaranth leaves - also called thota koora in telugu is a great source of fiber 
Amarnath seeds are a great source of gluten free is very good for people with coeliac dieases 
This paste /thuvayal can be used as a green sauce base for gravy curries 
mixed into roti dough, it makes great rotis as well (flavoured rotis or a diff variety of theplas maybe!!)
I have used this variation instead of pesto in pasta..i know ..i m crazy!!
a little (1 tbsp ) in the gravy makes a very creamy and healthy soup base as well...
you could add a little coriander leaves / cilantro and mint to make a perfect chutney for snacks (samosas and chats)- Believe me !!
So add this yum thuvayal in ur diet and have fun with food..a little thought into what you eat goes a long way :)


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