Paruppu Usili - a typical South Indian delicacy, mostly home-made. A mixture of soaked lentils/ spices and boiled veggies. Common veggies used for this 'usili' are Avaraikkai ( broad beans), beans and the plantain (tender banana) blossoms, called Vazhaipoo in Tamil.
The manifold use of all parts of a banana tree is widely known. Right from the leaves through to the stem and the fibre from the stem are used for cooking and in garland making. The medicinal values of the banana family have been largely appreciated for home remedies for different ailments.
This recipe is unique in its taste and flavour. Aside from a side dish for main curries, one can enjoy a good portion by itself. The only turn-off for many in cooking this is the arduous task of peeling the blossoms from the inflorescence. But, its certainly worth cooking, once in a while, given its nutritional value and taste.
The best way to choose the best blossom from the market is to peel off one of the bract and give it a bite [Of course, request the shop keeper !!! :))]. If its bitter, do not buy.
Go ahead to read the recipe below and enjoy a dinner delight !!
Cooking Time : 30 min
Serves : 5
Spice Level : Mild/ Medium
Category: Side dish
Cuisine : South Indian
Source : MIL
- 1 Banana Inflorescence/ Blossom
- 1 cup Toor Dhal
- 1 cup Chana Dhal
- 4-5 Red chillis
- 4- 5 flakes Compounded Asafoetida
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
- 20 ml refined or coconut oil
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp butter milk
- Soak Chana Dhal and Toor Dhal for 20 min. Also soak the asafoetida and chillies along with the dhals. While it soaks start cleaning the Banana blossom.
- Wash the blossom/ inflorescence well. Start peeling the sheath( red leaf like structure) in layers. As and when you peel, you will find clusters of immature flowers.
- Peel these flowers off from the sheath and transfer it to a bowl of water mixed with buttermilk to prevent browning.
- Continue to do this until you reach a stage where there are no more red coloured sheath to peel off and you see a conical bud with a thick stub.
- The bud can also be chopped and used.
- The next step is to clean the flowers.Start each flower one at a time. Remove the outer transparent petal and the long inner stem.
- Put the flowers back into the water until ready to use.
- When done, chop them fine and steam/ microwave them by adding little salt and turmeric powder.
- Grind the soaked dhals, chillies and soaked asafoetida into a coarse paste. Pressure cook this mixture until it turns tender. Cool and pulse into a crumbly mixture.
- Heat oil in a Kadai/ pan and add the mustard seeds. When it pops, add curry leaves and the crumbled dhal mix into it. The mixture tends to clump together. Keep separating it and stirring for a while. Add salt. Mix well.
- Add the steamed blossom in batches and stir well to form a uniform mix as shown in the picture above.Sprinkle sugar and give a good mix. Close with a lid and keep the mixture simmered for few minutes.
- Switch off and remove from heat.
- Serve hot with Rasam, Mor Kuzhambu or vatha Kuzhambu.
To know more about health benefits, scroll down.
Why does Banana blossom turn brown?
- Bananas and other vegetables and fruits like Apple, Fig, Eggplants undergo enzymatic browning reaction on exposed to atmosphere ( oxygen).
- Enzymatic browning is a chemical process, involving an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase and other enzymes that forms melanins and benzoquinone deposits on the exposed surface from natural phenols.
- These changes result in undesirable changes in appearance and loss of nutrients. For more information on nutritional importance of Banana blossom, check out my friend Ramya's space.