We rushed outside on hearing a loud whoosh ! A portion of the trunk belonging to our banana tree had swayed over unable to bear the heavy load of the huge bunch of green bananas hanging from it’s tip. Thankfully it stopped before it could hit the ground so none of the fruit were bruised or damaged. That’s how we came to be in possession of a big bounty of unripe bananas.
Just a week prior to that we had harvested a ripe bunch from the tree next to it and still had quite a few of that lot left to carry us through the next few days. The best thing about growing bananas is that there is plenty to share with friends and family.
The one thing I abhor is to allow produce to sit around uneaten. Also,there are just so many ripe bananas that one can possibly eat. Given that it’s not my children’s favourite fruit ,I had to come up with other options for the green bunch and quick !
The dish that immediately popped into my head was one of my all time favourites , the vazhakkai podimas. It’s a dish that is made to perfection at my parents’ home and having thought of it I couldn’t wait to make it ! The thing about this podimas is that when it’s made well ,the strands are fluffy and separate. When it’s made into a sticky mass on the other hand ,I find the texture rather unpalatable ! It all comes down to what one was used to eating as a child . My foodie maid came to my rescue with a tip on how to prevent it from getting all squidgy. Apparently one needs to grease the palms and the grater with oil before handling the par boiled and cooled green banana. This ensures that the vazhaikkai separates into thin flakes while grating.On following her advice we were rewarded with bits of just the right consistency. It wasn’t anywhere as fine as what my mom’s cook made but I wasn’t complaining. A light stir fry with onion , green chillies ,curry leaves , turmeric and salt finished the final cooking process. A squeeze of lime on the top and it was ready to accompany the rice and rasam for lunch. With a quiet prayer on my lips I packed it in the younger one’s lunch box ! Later that evening ,I was rewarded with a , “ma , what was that yummy vegetable you sent for lunch?” That earned him a big kiss on the forehead !
The next few fruit were used up to make a batch of vazhaikkai chips. Since we usually end up making chips at home ,it was nice to give the potatoes a miss and make them with a home grown ingredient.
When the kids were little we often made a green banana porridge for breakfast. Green bananas are a great source of fibre and potassium .It also contains resistant starch which allows a slow release of energy and therefore leaves one feeling full for longer periods. The porridge was made by drying the green farm grown nendhram and then blending it to a fine powder. It was then cooked with milk .This at the moment ,for me,is quite a process to go through. Which is why I was delighted to learn about the green banana porridge that is commonly eaten for breakfast in Jamaica.
It sounded so easy-peasy that I just had to try. It really is the work of minutes and the best part is that you can use any green banana that you can get your hands on. The ones at home were the poovan variety . The organically grown ones would be most ideal. In the west , these unripe bananas are also referred to as plantain. The texture is more dense and meaty making it a great ingredient to use in savoury dishes. Plantain fritters are hugely popular just as our vazhaikkai bajjis are. Since the sugars in this unripe fruit aren’t fully matured , it makes it a great food for those who need to be on a low sugar or a low carb diet. The nutrients that you get from eating a ripe banana are also available in it’s green form.
The fresh green banana porridge was quite a revelation. It’s mild in flavor and has a consistency similar to that of a thick oats porridge. By adding coconut milk it can be a great breakfast option for vegans too ! It’s definitely a change from eating a banana muffin, not to mention a whole lot healthier. I’m thinking along the lines of trying out a banana dosa next !