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" 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.


  1. You are so funny. What's wrong w/ a tangerine sweater? I have one (but true I never wear it) but I like it.
    I never tasted banana flowers so I am just wondering what it tastes like...your dish sounds delicious! If I ever get to Berkley Bowl, I will get some. BTW, they opened a new one! brand new BB...but not in SF, just Berkeley!

  2. well I have a sort of tangerine/melon sweater from Juicy Couture that I bought at a sample sale..too good to pass up. Still working up the courage to wear it, not a wise decision for a redhead.
    Banana blossom taste sort of like artichoke, in fact that's what it reminded me of slicing it after cooking..artichoke hearts. delicious. Let me know if you find them at Berkeley Bowl

  3. Sounds interesting. Now all you need to do is boil the tangerine sweater WITH the banana blossom.

  4. Yes, I have gone shopping and never used what a bought - oops!

  5. I'm an autumn... Will trade you for the tangerine sweater!

  6. Ha! I don't know what I am but I may just wear it this fall to jury duty. It's only been sitting in my closet for two years.

  7. By the way chickenless, I loved that article on the guy who makes all that kid food! Amazing, you know they'll never move out at that rate. They'll still be living there when they're 40.

  8. I really love the rice and coconut sounds wonderful. Would love to taste your cooking everything sounds incredible!

  9. LOL... I shudder to think what shapes the cakes will take on by the time they turn 40: "Dad, can I have one shaped like a twelve-pack of Bud?" "I'll take one shaped like a PTA meeting, thanks... I'm the responsible one."

  10. Try banana flower thoran(thats the Kerala word for Poriyal)next time Kathy. Clean the banana flower as you did, then when you reach the inner pale centre chop it up to 1 inch thick cubes and chop it finely in a food processor.Then soak the whole thing in some water,turmeric,salt and buttermilk.Rinse it off after about 30 mts to 1 hour.Make the poriyal with the finely chopped banana flowers,chopped serrano peppers,dry shredded coconut(or fresh frozen shredded coconut if you like the taste- you can get it in kerala/north indian grocery stores),chopped shallots/pearl onions,turmeric- all dropped into mustard seeds spluttering in coconut oil. Sprinkle water in between,stir to cook well. If you want you can add cooked red cow peas in the end to add some protein.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin