Banana flower or Banana blossom
It is known as Kele ka Phool in Hindi and Vaazhai poo in Tamil.
A large, purplish blossom that grows from the end of a bunch of bananas. The leaves enclose scented flowers. The outer leaves are much darker and tougher compared to the tender inner leaves which are used in cooking. It is treated as a vegetable in several tropical and Asian cuisines.
How to select
Select a flower that is firm and fresh. The outer leaves should have a smooth appearance, bright and free from blemishes and cuts. The outer leaves should overlap tightly. They are available wrapped in transparent plastic, which keeps them from drying out quickly.
Before you start to cut the flowers, take little oil( sesame or any cooking oil) and rub it in your palms.
Start opening the outer leaves one by one. Under each leaf you will find a group of long pale yellow flowers. If they would have reached maturity, each of them would have turned into a yummy banana.
Keep repeating the first 2 steps: open the leaf, collect flowers, discard leaf.
While peeling, the leaves will get softer and paler in colour and the flowers will get smaller.
Keep peeling until you reach the white yellow flower heart.
Once you clean the flower, Pull the feathery plastic like petal back, observe the matchstick like stem inside the flower. You have to remove both, otherwise your banana flowers will be hard and bitter.
Chop the flowers and put in a bowl, add cold water, lemon juice or butter milk to avoid discolouring of the flowers( it will get black otherwise due to oxidation)
Cook the flowers using very little water and salt.
Nutritional Benefits of banana flower
· Banana flower is known to help increase progesterone hormone which reduces bleeding during menstruation. Thus, for people suffering from painful menstruation and excess bleeding, having cooked banana flower with curd or buttermilk is beneficial.
· It is considered to be a good source of vitamin A and C.
· It is traditionally believed to be beneficial as a lactating agent.