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Vaazhaippoo Vada (Banana Flower Vada)

September 15, 2012

Vaazhai Poo (Banana Flower) is a south Indian delicacy especially thamizh delicacy and there is no market or grocery store in tamil naad that does not sell the local veggie ‘Vaazhai Poo.’

Vaazhai Poo (see pic) is plucked from the Banana trees – when the bananas are still flowers which most might not have ever seen or known about.   I think in the recipe for ‘Vaazhai thandu paruppusili’ (banana stalk paruppusili) i have written at  length on benefits of anything and everything derived from a banana tree.

There was a time and age in history of tamil naad when there was no house in our villages or towns or cities without its own ‘vaahai thotham’ (banana grove) or ‘vaazhai’ tree (banana tree) in the backyard.   Banana tree is unique in the sense, it has no brances and has no wooden stump but only a thick edible stalk (banana stalk as i mentioned is used as another vegetable in tamil naad) instead.

Thus a banana tree is a 100% useful tree:   banana leaves were used as serving plates always in tamil naad and even now in the south, in marriages and other festivities food is served in banana leaves only.   Serving in plates to guests in considered by most as disrespectful.  Very eco-friendly.    In the olden days, the used banana leaves after feasts were usually collected in large bamboo baskets and fed to cows rared in the house.    So nothing went waste.   Banana stalk and banana flowers are used as vegetables.  Again raw or kacha banana that is in green colour is also used as a veggie.   And finally we have the banana fruit.

Banana is 100% fibrous in every form – its like a mother to us so its never felled by humans.  A mama banana tree leaves a horde of little saplings around it before falling on its own accord in storm or rain.

Wedding halls in tamil naad again have 2 banana trees complete with banana flowers, fruits everything hanging standing like 2 guards on either sides of the entrance doors welcoming the guests – they are a sign of fertility and prosperity to the young couples getting married.

Banana trees ofcourse now are limited to banana groves in our villages, no more. Still, its more respected, honoured one in our culture.   Its almost like a fellow human to me.  Often i keep wondering how God made this wonderful tree 100% useful to man.   Is there any other living creature as selfless as a banana tree?

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Coming to the recipe, of Banana Flower or Vaazhaipoo vada, sharing some pictures here first,

Coming to the recipe, Banana Flower, all said, is a little bitter to taste. Which is why putting forth an interesting and yummy recipe out of it is a must. This is the only way we can make everyone consume it in their regular menu. A Banana Flower or Vaazhaipoo Vada is one such tasty way we can allure our family with.

Banana Flower/Vaazhaipoo Vada can be had as snack or as subzi with any kind of rice.

Ingredients:

Vaazhai Poo (banana flower) – 1 (i have used a small one here), channa dal – 1 1/2 cups, green chilies-3, garlic flakes-5-6, a small piece of ginger, curry leaves, onion-1 big size, oil for deep frying, water, salt to taste.

Method:

Wash and soak the channa dal in water for about 2 hrs.  Drain and keep aside.

Grate the onion and curry leaves and place in a bowl and keep aside.

Grate the ginger-garlic-green chilies and place in a blender, ready for grinding.

Now its time to look at ‘Vaazhai poo.’  Peeling of ‘Vaazhai Poo’ needs extreme care.   (demonstrated in the pictures).   If unplucked and untouched, this bunch will become a 1000 bananas in course of time!  Banana flowers have to be removed one by one, layer after layer, with the antenna and a small wisp like petal or whatever removed from every flower.   (there are a 1000 flowers in one big banana flower still we call the entire thing by single name ‘vaazhai poo’ or banana flower).

On removing the banana flowers immediately immerse the same in water until use or they will blacken within seconds due to oxidation.  Rinse for a minute and strain and chop at once and keep ready for immediate use.

Grind the garlic-green-chili-ginger and half of soaked channa dal very coarsely for a minute.   Add salt and add half the vaazhai poo chopped to the blender and run it again for not more than a few seconds.   The reason we are adding the banana flower in the end is, it is very smooth whereas channa dal even when soaked is hard.   So we grind the channa dal twice this way for getting a good ‘vada’ consistency.   Add water sparingly and only if necessary.   As much as possible, it is advisible to grind with the soaked water itself.

Repeat the same for the remaining channa dal and vaazhai poo.  Add salt.

Mix both together.  This vada mix will have to be coarse enough to ensure crispness.  Add the grated onions and curry leaves to this vada mix and mix evenly.

‘Vaazhai Poo’ (banana flower) VADA MIX is now ready for refrigeration or ready use anytime now.   Heat oil in a thick bottomed karai (pan).   Make flat rounds or vadas evenly out of the banana flower ready mix using your hand.  When the oil is heated enough, dip the vaazhai poo vadas one by one in the oil and deep fry on both sides to a dark brown colour.  This vaazhai poo vada is very crispy and tasty.   You can fry 3 or 4 or 6 or even 8-10 vadas at a time depending on your oil usage and time availability.

Take out the deep fried banana flower vadas from the oil and spread on tissue papers to absorb extra oil if any.

Vaazhai poo vada is now ready to serve.    A very healthy, tasty and nutritious side dish for any rice and also a good evening snack for the young and old.

Alternatively, the vaazhai poo vada mix can be refrigerated and used as and when needed within 48 hours.  No need for deep-freezing.

Vaazhai Poo (banana flower) is full of fibre and minerals and channa dal is full of protein.  A ‘must’ in our diet atleast once in 15 days.

MEDICAL BENEFITS OF VAAZHAIPOO/BANANA FLOWER:

*Is a natural kidney/bowels cleanser with its fibre content, so once a week consumption is good. Those with history of ulcers, to avoid. Scours clean our bladders so prevents kidney stone formation. Good for men, prevents blocks. Anti-cholesterol, anti-fat. Nutritious, fibrous, anti-oxidant, highly recommended by Siddha, Ayurvedic schools of Indian Traditional Medicine. ‘Marundhe Unavaaga’ … which means food as therapy, rightly applies to Vaazhaipoo/Banana Flower.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/401844-what-are-the-benefits-of-banana-flowers/

 

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