Vazhaithandu Thoran (Banana Stem Stir Fry)

The banana tree is a wonderful one. All it’s parts are edible, including flowers, raw banana, ripe banana and stem, Cleaning the flowers or stem, however, is a cumbersome process. In the case of the banana stem, the outer layers must be removed to reach the tender inner stem. These are then chopped into thin roundels (strings removed) and then further chopped into small pieces. The end result of any recipe using banana stem is worth the effort.
Banana stem has several nutritive properties. It is perhaps one of the few vegetables that can help prevent and relieve kidney and gall bladder stones. Regular consumption (I consume about once a week) can keep stones at bay.
Here is very simple recipe using banana stem,

1 medium sized banana stem, cleaned and chopped
4 tbsp pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 green chilli
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
Salt to taste
For The Seasoning
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 tsp split black lentil (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
1 sprig curry leaves
Wash and soak the pigoen peas in water for about 30 minutes
Chop the banana stem and put it in a bowl of water (so that it does not discolour)
Heat a wok and add half the banana stem
Drain and add the soaked pigeon peas
Add the remaining banana stem
Add turmeric powder and 1/2 cup water
Cover and cook on medium flame till the peas and the vegetable are done
The pigeon peas should not be mushy
Add salt and cook uncovered till all the moisture has evaporated
Meanwhile, grind the coconut and green chilli (no water needed)
Add this to the cooked vegetable and mix well
Remove from flame and set aside
Heat a small wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the split black lentil and curry leaves
Remove from flame when the lentil turns golden brown
Add this tempering to the cooked vegetable
Serve hot with steamed brown/red rice

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