There are some traditional Kerala dishes which I get to try only when I am in my Mom’s Kitchen. One such dish is VazhaChundu Payaru Thoran. Vazhachundu (Vazha Poov) is the Malayalam name for the purple flower of the Banana Plant, also known as Banana Heart. I have never tried Vazhachundu (Banana Flower) in my kitchen out of fear that the stain from the Banana Flower would ruin my hands. When I visited my mom, she made this wonderful side dish and taught me how to handle banana flowers.
The banana heart is notorious for letting out a sticky fluid which can stain your hands and clothes. Nevertheless, it can be handled with a little oil. The dark, purple, outer layers of the Banana Flower are discarded as it will be very bitter and can ruin the dish.
Dishes like these taste so good and remind me of the benefits of living in the countryside. You get to eat fresh, homegrown vegetables from your yard and don’t have to worry about pesticide laden food which you find in the markets.
- Banana Flower (Vazha Chundu/Poov) – 1
- Cowpeas/Red gram (VanPayaru) – 3/4 cup
- Grated Coconut – 1 cup
- Diced Shallots – 1/2 Cup
- Curry Leaves – A sprig
- Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Green Chillies – 2 or 3
- Minced Garlic – 2 cloves
- Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
- Salt – to taste
- Wash the cowpeas and pressure cook it with enough water and a little salt for around 10 minutes or until done.
- The cowpeas should get cooked but shouldn’t turn mushy. Drain and keep it aside.
- Wash the banana flower thoroughly. Peel and discard a few of the dark, outer layers or else the dish will be bitter. I discarded 4 layers. Chop all parts of the remaining banana flower into very small pieces. Alternatively, you can grate the banana flower.
- Rub a tablespoon of oil on the chopped banana flower. Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes. This will help in removing the sticky fluid from the banana heart.
- Stir the banana flower with a wooden spatula and you will notice a sticky paste clinging onto the spatula. Repeat this a few times to fully remove the sticky paste.
- Mix the grated vazhachundu along with grated coconut, little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Keep it aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds.
- Throw in the diced shallots, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves. Stir fry for a few minutes.
- Add the vazhachundu and coconut mixture to the pan. Cover and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add the cooked Vanpayaru and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes until all water has evaporated and the dish is dry.
- Smear you hands with a little oil and this will help in removing the stains on your hands.