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February 7, 2015

Vazhathandu Pachadi / Plantain Stem Curry

Banana tree / Plantain tree is one of the few species, where every part of the tree is useful. The tree as a whole (which had flowered) is used to decorate the entrance of the house or the place for an auspicious occasion.  The Stem, Flower and the Raw Banana is used as a vegetable. The ripen Bananas makes an excellent instant supply of energy. The fibre that comes while peeling the layer to extract the inner white part of the stem is used for tying purposes especially for tying flower garlands in Southern India. The leaf is not only makes a healthy and eco-friendly use & through plate but considered auspicious to feed the guests on special occassions.

Plantain tree Stem is very commonly used in Tamil Nadu and in some parts of West Bengal. Known as Vazhai Thandu (tamizh), Vazha Pindi (Malayalam), Kele ki dandi (hindi). Can be consumed raw or cooked.

  1. It high in fibre content. 
  2. Rich in Vitamin B6 and Potassium. 
  3. It helps in detoxifying the body.
  4. Regulates bowel movement.
  5. Used in traditional medicine to treat kidney stones.

How to select a good Stem? : Go for the tender ones. It should look white, which means it is fresh. If you press the cut end you can feel how tender it is. The tender the stem is, more edible it is for consumption as less amount of cleaning work.

How to clean? : Remove the external layer around the stem (may be two or 3 layers that can be removed easily). wash. slice them into roundels. If you see fibre coming out while cutting, use your index finger and wind the fibre around it. this way you can remove the excess fibre. If the stem is very tender, fibre is less. Keep a vessel filled with water ready. Now cut the roundels into juliens and then finely chop them into very small cubes. Keep transferring the finely chopped pieces into the water to prevent them from blackening.

The yellow gravy is this dish. The green one is called molakootal made using green leafy vegetable.

There are variety of dishes made using this vegetable. I am going to share one traditional dish called "Puli Pachadi". This is dish with a combo of various taste (Sweet, Spice, Salt and Sour) - khatta meetha chatpata!

Ingredients :-
  1. Banana Stem - 1 (Medium size)
  2. Tamarind - 1 medium lemon size
  3. Jaggery - 1.5 tbsp
  4. Grated coconut - 1 cup
  5. Green chillies - 2 - 3 nos.
  6. Curry leaves - 8 nos. (4 nos. for masala and 4 nos. for tempering)
  7. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  8. Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
  9. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp (for masala grinding)
  10. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp for tempering.
  11. Asafoetida - 1 pinch
  12. Oil for tempering - 1.5 tbsp
  13. Salt to taste
  14. Rice grain - 1/2 tsp
 Procedure :

  • Boil tamarind in 1 cup water till it becomes tender. Extract water thrice by adding fresh water. it should be approx 3 cups of tamarind extract.
  • Soak 1/2 tsp rice grain in water.
  • Drain the water into which we have put the finely chopped plantain stem. Put them into the vessel with tamarind water.
  • Add Turmeric Powder, Salt, Jaggery and boil till the stem becomes tender and cooked.
  • In a tempering pan, dry roast the fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) till it little dark and start spluttering.
  • Finely grind to a paste : Grated coconut, soaked rice grain, Mustard seeds, Green chillies, curry leaves 4 nos.,  roasted fenugreek seeds by adding water little by little.
  • Add this paste to the cooked plantain stem, bring to boil. When foam forms on top, switch off the gas.
  • Heat oil for tempering, add mustard seeds. After the seed splutters, add 4 nos. of curry leaves and add it to the prepared gravy.
  • Yummy gravy / curry is ready to be served as a side dish with molakootal rice / curd rice / chapathi .

If you are looking for the green molakootal recipe, here it is!

 The roasted fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds in the masala paste gives a mouthwatering aroma to the dish and the combo of various tastes viz., spicy, sweet, sour, salt makes it more interesting, that will make you go for additional helpings again and again!

Suggestions : You can replace the Plantain Stem with Ladies Finger  or Brinjal or Pumpkin (yellow).

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