Bananas are sweet, creamy, versatile, nutritious. What more could you ask for? But what if I told you there was more you could ask for. Maybe a super healthy curry, a serving plate, and even a deep-fried dish. Now, what if told you this was all in one plant, the beautiful banana plant.
Banana Flower Buds
- 1 Banana Flower
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- Peel out the outer core of the flower
- Take out the inside stem of the flower because they don’t cook very well and just become hard and icky and finely chop the rest of the flower, but not into a paste.
- Boil the chopped flower pieces for 15 minutes in salted water and drain them.
- Sautee the banana flower for 5 minutes with a tablespoon of oil
With just a simple and quick saute, these are soft and spongy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The taste of sourness and bitterness although seemingly unpleasant is quite the opposite. Bite after bite, this random ingredient continues to impress you with its complexities and uniqueness, making it so much more special than any other part of the banana.
Banana Plant Leaf
The next part of the banana that is so underrated is the leaf. After watching tons of cooking shows, I’ve seen it used 2-3 times to wrap a beautiful piece of fish in. This adds a ton of flavor when grilled and is a great way to utilize a part of the plant that you wouldn’t normally use. But in South India, it takes on a very different, but an arguably more important role. In Tamil Nadu, it used as a plate on which most traditional meals are eaten. One huge reason for doing this is not wasting ingredients and the vast nutritional benefits.
- Absorbs polyphenols which cause various diseases
- Kills off bad bacteria that exists in food
- Encourages you to use natural resources and helps contribute less to global warming
Other than its scientific significance, it also holds cultural importance in South India. Whenever I go back to India for the summer (sadly not this year), when the banana leaves come out, it is always family time. Whether that means with cousins in the big city of Chennai or aunts and uncles in our small home town of Mayavaram. It means taking two hours out of the day to just relax, enjoy some incredible food, and talk catch up on what we have missed in each other’s lives.
One of my all time favorite snacks, these delicate banana chips savory with a hint of natural sweetness, and not too oily. In most store bought banana chips, you can taste that overpowering taste of coconut oil, which for me, ruins the whole experience. Those chips are also really thick, think cracker thick, but these chips are so thin, they are essentially translucent.
- 4 Raw Bananas
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tablespoons of water
- Canola Oil for deep frying, or coconut oil if you like that flavor
- Peel all the raw bananas, use a knife if needed because these peels are unwieldy
- Soak your whole bananas in water
- Create a mixture with your salt and water
- With a mandolin, slice your bananas directly over the oil, one banana at a time
- Pour a spoonful of your salt water mixture over the chips and stir the chips gently, making sure they do not clump up
- Once the chips look crispy and begin developing a light golden brown crust, pull them out and let them rest on a plate with a paper towel.
These chips are the epitome of comfort and joy for me. Late at night when I’m sleepy and tired but have a major essay to complete the next day, these are the chips and going for. If I’m watching a thrilling movie with my family, forget popcorn, I want banana chips. These chips just feel like home everytime a dig into a handful of these, and that feeling never gets old.