Oriyarasoi is on twitter !

Showing posts with label kadali bhanda patua. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kadali bhanda patua. Show all posts

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Banana flowers: An Inflorescence of Memories

The filtered rays of the winter sun used to light up a small patch in my parent's garden. Right in front of the kitchen backdoor. This sweet spot that received sunlight for a few hours was our go-to area for sunning everything from the pickles to the precious silk sarees that were often taken out as winter also meant wedding season. Anything that required long hours under the sun was deported to the terrace and one of the kids was assigned guard duty. The pigeons were always seeking a snack or two. Maybe they even liked to sit on the cloth drying lines that swayed precariously under their weight. 

I always sought out the former for some warmth. As did everyone else in the family. Winter mornings in Rourkela tend to be quite harsh and the morning sunlight is almost a blessing. Any chore that could be moved outdoors was moved to this spot. As a result, this was one territory teeming with humans of all ages, each one engrossed in his/her own thing. Me and my brother engrossed in our books, my mother doing the lunch prepping, and my grandmother rubbing oil on her arthritic joints. At times, I would join her after finishing my studies. Tasks like peeling the peas, picking the greens, and prepping the banana inflorescence would be delegated to the kids at times to keep them busy or rather to keep them away from mischief. The last one, in particular, would take up a lot of time. Talk about the time and effort to rewards ratio being unfavorably skewed. The only solace was I simply loved all the dishes made with banana inflorescence. 

Cut to the year 2010. I was newly married and picking up the ropes of running a household. Weekend trips to the Ryathu bazaar were in order. As luck would have had it, I spotted banana flowers being sold by some of the ladies. And some of them happened to be huge. Much bigger than the homegrown ones I had always seen. Of course, I had to buy one and devote the entire afternoon prepping it. But the dish turned out to be a disaster. It was just too bitter and had to be thrown out. Luckily my mother knew the way to cook with these bitter ones. However, the fiasco taught me a valuable lesson. One which I still apply when cooking these flowers. The flavor of the banana flower is highly dependent on the variety and they can turn out to be anything from bland to delicious to downright bitter. I always boil and taste a single flower even before I start cleaning the rest. It helps me take a call on the prepping method to be deployed. The cleaned flowers keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days without turning black provided not much damage has been done while pulling out the tepal and the stylus-stigma. While Saturday afternoons or evenings were designated for movie dates, my Sunday afternoons were usually dedicated to meal prepping even during those days. It saved me a lot of hassle during the weeks.

Sometime last year. I was standing in my maternal aunt's kitchen in Rourkela. It is one of those small kitchens with disproportionally big windows. Like all other kitchens in the colony, this one also sports a metal mesh covering the entire window. The grills are spaced far apart making it a breeze for stray cats to enter and exit at will. While the design did serve its purpose in the older days, it is now defunct or rather a perpetual problem. 

I looked outside and marveled at the clump of robust plantain plants with their large shiny leaves. Most of them were sporting bunches of plantains. Though they were still immature, they looked pretty impressive with each one of them sporting more than a dozen hands. My aunt was almost done with the cooking when I casually enquired about the blossoms. Luckily she remembered the banana hearts sitting in the fridge. The rest of the flower had been used up but the inner core sporting the pale yellow bracts had been reserved for the 'Patua', a delicacy like no other. She ended up making the 'kadali bhanda patua' for lunch that day and I ended up asking for a second helping of piping hot rice to go with it.

Recipe for Kadali Bhanda Patua -

Note - I have used the banana heart or the innermost part of the inflorescence in this recipe. It is the point where it becomes quite difficult to peel off the bracts. But one can also use the flowers in the preceding layers to make this dish.


2 banana hearts

1 medium-sized potato

2 tsp mustard seeds (I use the light brown ones)

1 tsp poppy seeds

2 fat garlic clove

1-2 green chili ( preferably hot)

3 tsp mustard oil ( + 1 tsp for drizzling while serving)

1/4 tsp turmeric 

salt to taste ( about 1/3 tsp)

Method - Soak the mustard and poppy seeds for 2-3 hours. 

Transfer to a mixer/chutney jar along with the green chili and garlic pods. Chop the banana heart and add to this jar. Grind into a smooth paste.

Wash and chop the potato into small pieces.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed wok. Break a green chili and add it to the hot oil.

Add the chopped potatoes and sauté for a minute on high. Tip the contents of the chutney jar into the wok. Add the salt and turmeric. Sauté for another minute before lowering the flame and covering it with a heavy lid.

Open the lid after 5-6 minutes and give it a mix while taking care to scrape the bottom. If it looks too dry, sprinkle a little water over it. Cover once again and leave for 3-4 minutes. Open and check if the raw smell is gone. This means the dish is ready. 

Remove from the stove. Serve hot with a drizzle of mustard oil on top.

Note - One can swap the ratio of mustard to poppy seeds if one is unaccustomed to the heat of mustard.

Click here to refer to an old blog post for cleaning and prepping the flowers.

Featured Post

Green Papaya Laddoos (SugarFree recipe)

Mom is undoubtedly the dessert specialist at home. God forbid, if she takes to blogging, she could give a lot of folks a run for their mone...