South Indian banana flower recipe (also known as vazhakoombu thoran or vazhaipoo thoran with vanpayar South Indian style or Kerala style recipe) is easy to follow, the only difficult thing being the cleaning of banana flowers.
Let us see how to make this banana flower recipe more easy by following some simple steps.
This Indian banana flower recipe is my 200th blog post in this blog as well 🙂
The dry banana flower recipe flavored with spices, coconut and also added red cow peas (vanpayar) is yummy and very healthy as it is packed with lots of fibers.
This edible South Indian banana flower recipe/banana blossom recipe is a dry vegetarian/vegan side dish for vegetarian lunch or dinner.
The main ingredients that we need for this South Indian banana flower recipe to make this banana flower thoran known as vazhakoombu thoran (or simply koombu thoran) or vazhaipoo thoran are good quality banana flower (banana blossom), grated coconut (or unsweetened shredded coconut), red cowpeas (vanpayar) and also few spices to flavor the dish.
You can see the image of a banana flower or banana blossom below, which have pink petals or layers. The banana flower, popularly known as vazhakoombu or vazhai poovu is edible and healthy, and used for cooking in South India, as they are easily available in South India.
The outer petals are usually thicker and they maybe discarded if they are difficult to clean and prepare (about 4 to petals) and the tender inner petals are used for cooking.
We also add red cowpeas (vanpayar as known in malayalam) in this dish, though you can also make it without red cowpeas. The addition of red cowpeas will make it even more delicious, filling and protein rich.
I have a few other recipes using red cowpeas (vanpayar) too like cowpeas with coconut (vanpayar thoran), cowpeas curry for rice (vanpayar curry with coconut), cowpeas stir fry recipe (vanpayar mezhukkupuratti) etc.
Cooked red cowpeas is delicious and makes a good source of natural protein especially for those on plant based diets.
As I mentioned above the cleaning of the banana flower can be little difficult if you want to use all the edible stuff in the flower.
I found it easy to discard the hard outer petals and florets inside the outer petals altogether and just use the tender heart of the banana flower which is soft and easy to clean and cook.
First, we will clean and chop the banana flower and then cook it along with coconut and spices. We cook the red cowpeas or vanpayar separately and add it to the cooked banana flower and mix together to make this dish easily.
You can use a gloves for your hands or rub your palms with oil, otherwise the black sticky residue from the banana flowers can stick on to your hands for a while.
So here is the most easy way to make this vazhakoombu payar thoran or banana flower thoran following this South Indian banana flower recipe.
South Indian Banana Flower Recipe Below
Indian banana flower recipe - Vazhakoombu/Vazhaipoo Thoran Recipe With Cowpeas
- 1 medium sized edible banana flower head
- 2 cups grated or unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon salt adjust as needed
- 1 cup red cowpeas vanpayar
- 3 cups water to cook cowpeas
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 2 teaspoons crushed or minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 5 red chilies
- 1 string curry leaves
For Soaking The Banana Flowers
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup water
To clean and prepare the banana flower
- Let us start by washing and cleaning the banana flower for preparation. As I already mentioned, cleaning the entire flower can be tedious so I am going the easy way of using only the tender heart of the blossom (flower). The outer pink petals are quite hard, so we will remove a few of the outer petals as we use the more tender inner petals to make the dish.
- Wash the flower head and discard the 4 to 5 outer pink petals which are quite hard and difficult to cook. I removed the outer 5 layers of petals along with the florets inside them (some parts of the florets inside are edible but quite difficult for me to clean up). The remaining white colored tender flower heart (with a light pink hue) is soft enough to be used in cooking easily.
- Cut the banana flower finely as much as possible (don't cut the hard stem at the end of the flower, we will discard the stem after the chopping the remaining edible parts of the flower only, or else the petals will fall off making the chopping more difficult). If there is too much fiber in the flower, you may cut the flower head in thicker circles and remove some of the fibers with your hands, and then chop the pieces finely.
- Once all the edible part of the banana flower is chopped finely, discard the hard stem and transfer the chopped flower pieces to a large bowl. You can either add diluted buttermilk (by mixing the buttermilk and water) to the bowl with the banana flower or add water mixed with little turmeric powder, salt and coconut oil. You can soak the chopped banana flower in buttermilk overnight for best results, although this is not necessary. If you are in a hurry, you can soak this for just about 15 to 20 minutes.
- After soaking the chopped banana flower in buttermilk or water with turmeric, salt and oil, drain the water and gently squeeze the chopped flower to remove any remaining water. This will help to reduce the natural bitterness of the flower (the bitterness is very slight, once we finish the cooking you don't feel any bitterness usually). Now we can make the seasoning and start cooking the banana flowers which is already chopped and soaked.
Preparing the seasoning
- Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds splutter add red chilies and curry leaves, fry for a few seconds. Now the simple South Indian style seasoning is ready.
Cooking the chopped banana flowers
- Add the chopped banana flower, saute for about a minute or two.
- Reduce the heat to low, add salt, garlic powder and mix everything well.
- Cover and cook the banana flowers for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the flowers are soft and cooked enough.
- Meanwhile coarsely grind the coconut along with cumin seeds (without water in a food processor) and keep it ready aside.
- Once the banana flowers are cooked and soft, add grind coconut mixture, turmeric powder and red chili powder, mix everything well.
- Saute the contents for another 2 minutes or until the contents are dry and not soggy, stir in between to make sure the contents are not burning at the bottom of the pan. Switch off the stove and keep the pan away from heat so it won't get overcooked. You can enjoy this banana flower stir fry with coconut and spices as it is along with rice for lunch or dinner, but we are going to make it more delicious by adding cooked red cowpeas to this dish, which adds much flavor to the dish.
Cooking the red cowpeas
- To cook the red cowpeas, add the cowpeas to a pressure cooker with enough water and salt.
- Close the pressure cooker with the lid and safety valve and cook the contents for about 12 minutes or about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Once the pressure cooker is cooled enough, open the cooker and see if the peas is cooked enough and soft.
- Drain the water and you can discard the water (or save the water for later use in soups if you like to use it in any vegetarian soups)
Making The Final Dish
- Add the cooked cowpeas (without the water) to the cooked banana flower and mix everything well. The banana flower stir fry with coconut, spices and red cowpeas (vanpayar in malayalam) is ready to be served! Enjoy the banana flower dish with rice for vegetarian/vegan lunch or dinner.
More Pictures From The Preparation Of Indian Banana Flower Recipe
The outer layers or outer pink petals that you see from the below picture, are quite hard and so you may discard about 4 to 5 thick outer petals and just use the inner tender petals for making the dish.
The more tender inner petals are used for the recipe, which are cleaned and chop as you see in the below picture.
The chopped banana flower is made into stir fry with grated coconut and South Indian style spices to make a dry dish known as vazhakkombu thoran or vazhai poovu thoran which is popular in South India. This is a very tasty and healthy side dish which you can enjoy with rice.
Adding cooked red cowpeas makes the dish even more delicious and healthy and is a South Indian Kerala style side dish enjoyed with rice.
Hope you found this post on South Indian banana flower recipe – Vazhakoombu thoran/Vazhaipoo thoran recipe helpful!