No, not just a Banana…..I thought about Thelma’s fruit weekend challenge and we have many exotic fruits here, so armed with my camera I went to the local fruit market. Well, lots of oranges are in season at the moment as are Watermelons galore and the ever present mangoes….but what I was looking for…not in season..
Back home I went disappointed and thinking hard a lot of the fruits are what I call staples available most of the year and now because of progress available all over the world.
What can I feature??? Well, I am sure most of you can get Bananas in your supermarket which will probably be the Cavendish by name as the original Banana favoured by the supermarkets was the ” Gros Michel” which became extinct by 1960 as it was wiped out by a fungus called the Panama Disease.
This could happen at any time as Bananas are actually clones and if they become infected with a fungus it just runs rampant and kills them all.
Banana it is then..here in Thailand and in my garden Bananas grow in abundance.
So much so that I always freeze some ready to make a smoothie.
This recipe is one that my daughter gave me along side a packet of chia seeds Banana Espresso Smoothie
Its scientific name is “Musa Sapientum” which roughly translated means ” Fruit of wise men”
Here it is called Kluay pronounce ” glue eye” spellings vary slightly around the regions and it is a tree-like perennial and officially classed as a herb, the world’s largest herb as it can reach 25 feet in height. The fruit is also classed as a berry.
Here in Thailand leaves are used to serve food on or wrap food in like these little parcels of tri coloured sticky rice topped with shredded pork.
The purple flowers are steamed and eaten with a spicy Thai dip.
To make Thai spicy dip:
Finely chop one small shallot, 1 clove of garlic, finely slice 6/8 fresh chillies, add 3 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice…I stir in a little-chopped coriander. If the dip is too salty add a little warm boiled water.
The inside of the skins are also used to stop itching and inflammation of insect bites and burns. It is also said that if you tape a piece of banana skin side down over a wart every night that the potassium in the skin makes the wart disappear within 1-2 weeks.
Mashed and mixed with a tbsp of heavy cream, and a tbsp of honey and then applied to dry hair covered with a shower cap and a hot towel. Left for an hour and then rinsed off before shampooing the hair it is a wonderful moisturising treatment.
There is no end to the properties of this low calorie, no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol berry which is also rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, fibre and B6.
Here it is used to make bread and muffins. If cooked the banana skins are edible, you will see fried bananas in abundance on the street food stalls…they are fried in batter, grilled on the BBQ in their skins and turned into golden fritters ( Kluay phao)
Banana spring rolls with a sweet dip or eaten green and raw with a spicy dip.( See recipe above)
They can be used to make a beautiful Banana Blossom stir fry.
Just wash the blossoms and put in a bowl of cold water with some lemon.
1 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp yellow split peas/chana dhal
1 tbsp split green lentils/urad dhal
1-2 dry red Chilli halved
2 tsp tamarind juice
5-8 Curry Leaves
1 Banana flower
1 large red onion, diced
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut, fresh/frozen
Salt to taste
Bring some water to the boil in a cooking pan and add the banana flower to a boiling water pot and cook for 10 minutes, until they are soft and done. Drain the water through a colander and squeeze with the hand to remove any excess water. Set them aside.
Heat oil in a cooking pan and once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, Let them pop, add lentils and halved red chillies. Now add tamarind juice and curry leaves and mix well,
Mix in finely chopped onion and saute on a medium flame till they are light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric and mix well.
Add the cooked banana flower to the pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes at on a medium flame until they are mixed well with the spices.
Add salt to taste and sprinkle grated coconut on top and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot with steam rice.
Green unripe bananas are also used to make Tam Maak Kluay which is a version of the famous Som Tam ( Papaya Salad) which I first had from a roadside stall near Bang Tao beach in Phuket and it is beautiful.
Just a piece of trivia...did you know? That more songs have been written about the Banana than any other fruit.