How to clean Vazhaipoo

Banana Blossom

Is there a day when I don’t think about my Mom? She is always in my mind. I think about her whenever I see my daughter whenever I cook a meal for my husband whenever I clean my home whenever I am stuck in a problem whenever I breath. I try to mock her in everything I do. Am I a copy-cat? Yes I am and I am proud to ape my Mom. She is the one who taught me how to live and walked me to the place where I am today. Though all the memories associated to her make me happy there are few things that make my heart feel heavy and then a tear trickles down my eyes. I feel miserable and the guilt hurts me a lot. I have a good mother but am I a good daughter? Did I treat her well and give her the respect she deserves? No. I took her for granted and always imposed my decisions on her. She is naive and listened to whatever I told her. I never helped her in the household chores and Amma never complained about it. Even when Amma is feeling under the weather she would wake up early in the morning take a pill and do all the chores. She ensured that we went to school on time and had adequate food to eat. She worked round the clock and she seldom took rest during the day.

Vazhaipoo

Being a mother now I can empathize her and completely understand the sacrifices she did for me and my family. If there was something that bothered me during pregnancy was being away from my Mom. Due to some visa issues my parents arrived only in the last minute. As soon as she landed she took over all the household chores and whipped up my favorite dishes. My parents did not allow me to work and they were there for me all the time.  She didn’t stop here. She took care of her grand daughter too. She changed her diapers, gave her a bath, played with her and even gave her a bottle when I had some postpartum issues.  She burnt the midnight oil and again she did not complain once. She was happy taking care of us. Happy Mother’s day Ma! Thank you for being with me whenever I needed you.

Amma cooks everything from scratch. She has her own garden where she grows veggies and fruits. She hand picks those fresh veggies and fruits to prepare scrumptious meals for the entire family. But still our home resembled like a war front when some of them were served in the table. One such ingredient was Banana blossoms aka Vazhaipoo in tamil. There were days when I showed no interest in this vegetable but now times have changed and I seriously crave to eat them again and again. You never know how important something is until we lose it, right? Nowadays, I think there is some kind of spell on me. Every time I visit the grocery store I walk towards the vegetable aisle and start looking for the fresh banana hearts. I feel ecstatic when I find really fresh one.

Vazhaipoo

Most of the homes in South India (Cities could be an exception) have atleast 1 banana tree in their backyard. And every part of this plant is cooked or used in some or the other form.  Most of us are not aware that apart from the banana fruit we can also eat the banana blossoms (aka banana heart) and the trunk (vazhai thandu). And their leaves are used to serve traditional meal in Indian households. Though we don’t eat banana leaves it is also used in cooking/steaming to wrap the food and it is believed that these leaves impart an amazing flavor to the food. In most of the Asian countries even the banana blossom leaves are consumed but in India we eat the flower part. Didn’t I tell you this plant is so versatile.

Hand Model: My dearest Mom

What you need?

1 Banana heart

Banana Blossom

How to Clean?

  • Rub your hands with sesame/castor or any cooking oil. This will save your manicured fingers. Trust me. Now peel the leaf from banana blossom. Remove the flowers. Continue peeling the leaves until you remove all the flowers. As you peel you will see that size of banana heart reduces to a tiny cone. At this stage you can stop peeling and discard the cone. [Read  notes]

Banana Blossom/Vazhaipoo

  • Pick a flower. Slightly squish it with two fingers. It will open the flower and you will see a stamen with bulged head and a rosy/translucent petal which looks like an artificial petal. You want to remove them before you cook as they cannot be easily digested.

Stamen and Petal

  • Remove the rosy/translucent petal.

Remove the rosy/translucent petal

  • Remove the stamen with bulged head

Remove the stamen

  • So you have successfully removed the stamen and the petal and now the banana flower is 100% edible

Cleaned Banana Blossom

  • And these are the inedible stamen and petal

Inedible stamen and petal


Notes:

  • As you get to the core of the banana heart it would become rather impossible to remove the stamen and petal from the flower. At this stage you can use the flower as is in your cooking. It is told that the stamen and petal are not so hard and it can be digested.
  • I normally don’t use the inner cone. But I have read that it can also be used in cooking.
  • I store them in a ziploc and refrigerate it.
  • Popular dishes: Vazhaipoo vadai and Vazhaipoo pachadi.

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