If my mother was to be believed bananas are the cure to all ills. Growing up, whenever I complained of any ailment, the remedy was always, "Have a kela."
As a child, it was the first solid food I was given.. Later, when I wondered why this was so, I was told that bananas were high on energy.
My hyper-active toddlers proved this true and my pediatrician explained that my mother's must have milk-and-banana mix is rich in carbs and vitamins C, A and B6. It also has a moderate amount of proteins leading to healthy bones, traces of salt and iron to counter anaemia, and plenty of sugar that contributes to the energy quotient.
What I find most surprising about the fruit that grows in abundance all over the world, is that it's a remedy for constipation.. and diarrhoea too, as also ulcers. I guess it's the high fibre content that makes it easily digestible.. raw green bananas are a good anti-acid too.
Another fact that I learnt was that the US Food & Drug Administration has allowed the bananas industry to claim that bananas reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
Also, a woman eating the fruit four to six times a week has less chances of getting kidney cancer.
It also help pregnant women combat morning sickness and their husband's to give up on cigarettes before the baby comes.
So while the old adage goes: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", if my mother had her way it would be "A banana a day keeps all sickness at bay."
You can peel and pop it, or try a few of these recipes that use everything, from the flower and stem to the ripe and raw fruit.
Plantain Flower Cutlets
500 gms potatoes
250 gms plantain flower
250 gms red spinach
2 medium sized onions
1-½ cups cornflour
A small stem of ginger
2-3 green chillies
A small bunch of coriander, chopped fine
1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tsp of amchur powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp roasted cumin, ground
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
1. Remove two-three top layers of the plantain flower and chop finely .
2. Wash the spinach and chop finely.
3. Peel and cut potatoes.
4. Cook plantain flower, spinach and potatoes in water to which is added a little turmeric. Don't use too much water. And use a non stick pan.
5. Mash the boiled vegetables. Mix in all the masalas.
6. Add finely chopped green chillies, coriander leaves and onion.
7. Mix well and shape into cutlets. 8. Dip in batter and deep fry. Serve hot with garam chai.
Banana Stem Raita
1 kg banana stem
1 cup curd
2 green chillies, finely diced
A few sprigs of coriander, cut finely
Salt and sugar to taste
1. Peel two-three layers of the stem and cut into circles. Remove strands and cut finely.
2. Boil in a little water till tender. If the banana stem is very tender, the stem can be used raw.
3. Mix into curd, salt and sugar.
4. In a pan heat two tbsp of oil and add one tsp of mustard seeds, one tsp of urad dal, one red chilli, broken, and a pinch of hing. Roast fry , then add a few curry leaves.
5. Add seasoning to the curds and serve chilled.
Raw Bananas In Curd
1 raw banana
1/2 small coconut
1-½ cups curd
Pinch of turmeric
2-3 green chillies
1 tsp urad daal
1. Boil bananas in water, to which a little salt and turmeric has been added, till tender but not pulpy.
2. Grind coconut with green chillies. Add curds and pour mixture into pan with bananas. Bring to boil once, then remove from heat. 3. In another pan heat oil, add one tsp mustard seeds, one tsp urad daal, one red chilli, broken, few curry leaves and pinch of hing. Stir fry and add to curry . Serve hot with rice.
Banana Chocolate Sundae
2 ripe bananas, sliced
1 scoop chocolate or vanilla ice cream
Ready-made chocolate sauce
Few cashewnuts and walnuts sliced fine
Few whole cherries
1. Arrange banana slices in a bowl, top with ice-cream.
2. Pour chocolate sauce over it and sprinkle with nuts and cherries. Serve chilled.