Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Here's Where I Go Food Ninja Bananas


    Have you ever gone shopping and found yourself buying something, bringing it home sticking it in the closet and just keeping it there? Have you ever had one of those "what was I thinking?!" moments, where you wondered what the hell you were thinking when you bought something in "tangerine"???
Well, yes I've been guilty of all those crimes. To be practical one can always buy a sweater, get it home and then stick it in the back of the closet. Sooner or later you WILL wear that sweater, if not from boredom or necessity than from guilt.
I also have a bad habit of doing this with food..mainly vegetables and fruit. Now with vegetables and fruit you can't just put it away and wait for next season..because next season there will be new fruit, and in the meantime the old fruit will "go bad" and not a cute tough guy with a heart of gold kind of bad, but an oozy, sloppy, sticky goo kind of bad "from which bourn there is no return"..to totally muck up Shakespeare,and your fridge.
So, ok. I've got Goat in my fridge and a couple of ducks that I'm worried about, but the worst trouble I get into is with the more exotic members of the vegetable family.
Then there's that Banana Flower.
Ever since I brought it home full of bravado and high spirits last Sunday, it's been sitting in my fridge like a large, armored shell. A pretty pink and purple armored shell. Since I mentioned on this blog and to everyone I know that "Hey, I've got a banana flower and you don't!" I had to cook the damn thing. I'm not saying that I was afraid to cook it. I've cooked, plucked and gutted in my time if it didn't turn out so what..I could just chuck it. But, there was one other consideration and that is the other person in this house. My husband.
My husband has traveled the world. It's because of him and his family that I even started cooking Indian food in the first place. He's a very curious and daring eater, but I was worried if he'd be willing to go bananas with me. He was, on one condition. That there be no prawns. Having just seen District 9 and loving it, he wasn't exactly ready to face something that contained prawns. I explained that my prawns

would bear no resemblance to
those prawns,

It was no go. c
So I figured, let's go chicken. Chicken and banana flowers. Can't go wrong with that.
Well, I didn't, and it was easier and tastier than I thought.
First, cleaning the banana flower. There were all sorts of dire warnings. Beware sap, wear gloves. Again with the gloves! It was actually a lot easier than I'd read and there were no gloves involved. I got everything I needed to know by going onto the Internet Tubes and Googling Cleaning Banana Flower. There were a bunch of videos and websites. In fact, it was the same as cleaning an artichoke, peeling away leaves and unformed proto-bananas or bracts until one reaches the soft pale center, the "heart" of the banana.
Once your banana flower is peeled, cut off the tip and then the stem. Cut the heart in quarters and place it into a bowl of water with 1 tsp of salt and the juice of half a lemon. This will keep it from turning an unattractive color. It's similar to what's done with fresh artichoke. Set the banana flower and water aside to sit for about an hour.
I next thought about what chicken recipe would work with my Banana flower. I decided that a version of a Sri Lankan chicken in coconut milk from Mangoes And Curry Leaves would do beautifully.
1.) I took 2 Chicken breasts and cut them into inch pieces. This dish is usually made with bone in chicken but I find for convenience and what I happened to have
I dry roasted
2.) 1 Tbs of whole coriander seed
3.) 2 tsp. of cumin seed
4.) 1 Tbs. of dry grated coconut
5.) 3 Tbs of whole cashews
6.) 1/2 tsp of fenugreek seed
7.) 1 Tbs of uncooked basmati rice.
Dry roast all of these seeds and spices separately as the toast at different speeds and we don't want any burning.
When they're all toasted put them in a spice grinder or blender along with
8.) 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
9.) 1/2 tsp. of ground coriander
10.) and one chopped shallot
Blend all of this into a paste. Rub it on the chicken and let it sit in this paste in the fridge for 20 minutes to an hour or more..but at least for 20 minutes.

In a deep skillet or karahi heat
11.) 2 Tbs of vegetable oil..I used 1 Tbs of coconut oil
When the oil is hot toss in
12.) 2 finely minced green chilis
13.) 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
14.) 1 tsp minced ginger
Stir fry it a bit then toss in your chicken in paste . Stir it up get that chicken a bit browned then add in
15.) 2 small chopped tomatoes.
Keep stir frying a bit more then add in
16.) 1/2 cup of coconut milk
17.) 1/2 cup of water
Put a cover on the pan, turn the heat down and simmer it well for about 40 minutes. Check it every now and then, add a bit more water if it seems to be sticking or turning dry.

Meanwhile back at the Banana Flower
After it's soaked for about an hour, drain it and place it in a pan, cover it with water add 1 tsp of salt and the juice of 1/2 lemon bring it all to a boil. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes for the banana to soften, when it does, take it out and drain it. Run a little water over it to cool. Then when it's cooked and drained , finely julienne it and toss it into your chicken dish. Stir it well till it's heated through and serve.

It is amazing!!! I am going to get more banana flowers, my next trip to market and avail myself of the many recipes out there. The Banana flowers are going to get a lot more use than that pair of Steve Madden leopard skin pumps I bought ever did. I may even get some prawns...or not.

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