south indian banana flower recipe
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Indian banana flower recipe - Vazhakoombu/Vazhaipoo Thoran Recipe With Cowpeas

South Indian style edible banana flower recipe or banana blossom recipe makes a healthy and delicious side dish using edible banana flowers, coconut, spices and red cowpeas which goes great with rice. You can also enjoy this without adding the cowpeas. This edible banana flower recipe is vegetarian as well as vegan recipe.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 244kcal
Author Rose

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized edible banana flower head  
  • 2 cups grated or unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust as needed
  • 1 cup red cowpeas vanpayar
  • 3 cups water to cook cowpeas

Spices

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons crushed or minced garlic

For Seasoning

  • 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

Instructions

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.

Notes

Banana flowers are edible and it is very healthy to include them in the diet as they have a lot of fiber content in it.
Banana flowers are very commonly available in South India and so you can see many banana flower recipes made in South Indian style. This banana flower stir fry with coconut, spices and red cowpeas is a healthy, tasty Kerala style side dish which is enjoyed with rice along with any other curry or gravy, some suggestions would be to use moru curry, pulissery (coconut yogurt curry), sambar etc.
Adding the red cowpeas will make this dish more healthy and protein rich, and also more filling and delicious, but if you do not have red cowpeas, you can just make it without the cowpeas, as the dish is still very delicious with coconut and spices.
You may also add stir fried or sauteed onions or shallots to make this banana flower stir fry even more delicious.

Nutrition

Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 197mg | Potassium: 328mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 7.3% | Vitamin C: 55.9% | Calcium: 5.5% | Iron: 10.5%