Vazhaipoo Thogayal (Banana Blossom Chutney/Dip)

Thogayals are basically thick chutneys or dips. It is a concept unique to South India. These thogayals are served with rice and an accompanying wet dish. If the wet dish is bland (say Mulakootal), then a thogayal is a must. Of course, you can serve a thogayal with several breakfast dishes like dosa and idli too. Many fans of thogayal also have it mixed with steamed rice. They are marvellous preparations that are versatile and spice levels can be adjusted. The most basic thogayals are the coconut and lentil thogayals (both recipes are in this blog under “Chutneys and Powders”. I have made thogayals with all kinds of vegetables and they always turn out marvellously. My recipe today is a banana blossom thogayal, It may sound exotic to several people, but banana blossoms are widely used in cuisines across the coastal regions of the country,

Vazhaipoo Thogayal

300 gms banana blossoms, cleaned, washed and chopped
(You can view how to clean banana blossoms in YouTube)
12 dried red chilis (adjust according to taste)
1 tbsp split black lentils (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
1 tsp tamarind paste
A pinch of turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Chop the banana blossoms and put them into a bowl of thin vegan buttermilk (this will prevent the florets from turning black)
Heat a wok and add the chopped banana blossoms and turmeric powder
Add 1/2 cup water and cook till the florets are tender
In a separate wok, add the mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the black lentils and asafoetida
Roast for a few seconds till the lentils begin to change colour
Add the chilis and roast for about 10 seconds more (do not burn any of these ingredients)
Transfer this mixture and the cooked banana blossoms to a blender
Add salt and tamarind paste
Grind to a coarse paste (no need to add water)
Serve at room temperature with steamed red/brown rice or with a bland ‘kootan’ (wet dish) or with idli, dosa….
Or serve it as a dip

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