Banana Blossom In Tamarind Gravy

Every part of the banana tree is consumed in India. The steam and blossoms are used to make various lip-smacking dishes. The leaves are used to serve food – eco-friendly. The used leaves are then fed to cows or goats. Raw banana is also used to make different kinds of dishes. Ripe bananas are, of course, consumed as a fruit. Many people, even in India, are flummoxed by the banana blossom. That’s because it is used only in some parts of the country, not universally. Cleaning the banana blossom is a tedious task, but well worth the effort. There are several YouTube videos on this that you can refer to. In times of yore, the family used to gather around and tackle this task as a group, while engaging in some form of conversation. Another benefit since the activity bonds the family. But, sadly, those days are gone. I still help Hari in cleaning the blossoms while discussing various household issues. It makes the task much less tedious.
The recipe that I am posting today is a gem if you enjoy tamarind based dishes. It is tangy. The spice level can be adjusted to suit individual palates.

Banana Blossom In Tamarind Gravy

1 small banana blossom, cleaned (please refer YouTube videos on how to clean)
10 shallots (or 1 large onion), sliced
8 cloves garlic
A large marble sized ball of tamarind, soaked and juice extracted
1 1/2 tbsp sambar powder (recipe in this blog under “Chutneys & Powders”)
A generous pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dhana, venthiyam)
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
Clean the banana blossoms and chop into small pieces
Once all the blossoms have been removed and cleaned, chop the central white part of the blossom pod into small pieces
Set aside
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves
When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add the onions and garlic
Sauté for 2-3 minutes
Add the banana blossoms (including the chopped white central portion) and continue to sauté for about 10 minutes (sprinkle a little water, if necessary)
When the blossoms are almost done, add the sambar powder, salt and turmeric powder
Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes
Add tamarind paste and 2 cups of water (adjust to desired consistency)
Bring it to a boil and cover
Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame, stirring occasionally
When done, remove from flame and transfer to a serving bowl
Serve hot with steamed red/brown rice, idli, dosa, upma – or whatever takes your fancy

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