Plantain - The Gastronomical Wonder Ingredient of Odia cuisine!!
If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who have had the opportunity to spend a few years in a small town, chances are that you might be used to having a small plantain thicket in the backyard along with the 'de rigueur' Tulsi plant. And there is a good reason behind omnipresence of this multi-utility plant ! From the green fruit to the ripe ones, the fibrous white stem to the purple-yellow flowers, even the peel of the green fruit is completely edible. But that is a not all. The glorious verdant leaves are considered to be a platter fit for the Gods and are actually rated higher than utensils made out of precious metals. Coming back to lesser beings like us, they multitask beautifully as the most aromatic wrap for desserts/savory dishes and as disposable plates for those sit-down lunches and dinners!
The widespread use of plantain in cooking lies in the numerous health benefits that it holds. All parts of the banana plant are high in fiber and hence beneficial for weight loss. The ripe fruit is an excellent source of carbohydrates and has a low glycemic index. People suffering from gastrointestinal disorders can benefit from the regular consumption of various parts of the banana plant.
Each of these above mentioned ingredients hold a special place in Odia cuisine. Be it the 'dalma', 'ghanta', 'santula' or even any of the mixed vegetable preparations, plantain is an integral ingredient of each one. These are some of the famous Odia recipes which showcase the various parts of the plantain plant -
1. Kadali Manja Raee ( Made from plantain stem ) - Rich in potassium and vitamin B6, it is touted as the traditional cure for a variety of ailments like kidney stones, constipation, gastric disorders, UTI and even diabetes.
While the juice is especially beneficial, it is good to include it as a vegetable 1-2 times in one's weekly diet.
This delicious preparation with minimal spices is one of the best ways to make it a part of your everyday menu.
2. Kadali Bhanda Raee ( made from plantain flower ) - It is most beneficial for women as it keeps the uterus in good condition. Consuming banana flower on a regular basis reduces free radical activity, prevents excess bleeding, alleviates the symptoms of PMS and also help in milk production among lactating women. Just like the stem, it is also rich in fiber and helps ease constipation .
Though it can also be consumed as a juice, it is best to eat the flowers to get the maximum benefits .
Cooking in the signature Odia style with mustard paste, garlic and chili, the delectable dish is sure to have to hooked on to this vegetable.
3. Kadali Chopa Patua ( made from the peels of green plantain ) - A rich source of potassium, the peels are supposed to contain higher amounts of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. This part of the plantain is also rich in Trytophan, an amino-acid that increases the production of serotonin or the 'happy chemical' that improves one's mood.
Lutein, an important antioxidant present in the peel, is especially beneficial for eye health.
Making the best use of waste, save the peels for this yummy side dish when you cook green bananas the next time.
4. Kancha Kadali Bhaja ( made from green/raw plantain ) - The green banana is a good source of fiber, vitamins (mainly potassium), minerals and most importantly resistance starch which is known to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Resistance starch helps lower the blood cholesterol levels and leaves one feeling full for a longer period of time.
Though it takes almost zero effort to prepare, this simple pan fried dish will make a convert out of most people.
5. Malpua ( made from ripe plantain ) - Considered to be the best among the lot, they have the highest concentration of antioxidants along with Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They are touted to keep away a host of diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disorders, osteoarthritis, obesity, depression and even kidney stones.
For people who can't make do without desserts, this simple dish made out of overripe bananas is the prefect indulgence. To reduce the calories consumed, just pan fry the malpuas and drizzle with some sweetening agent like 'nolen gur' or even maple syrup.