Bananas are a staple of many diets of the world. Delicious, nutritious, portable, prolific, and pretty, these fruits are grown in tropical places for the benefit of all.
But what about the flower from which the bountiful banana comes? It, too, is all of these things—and more.
The banana flower is used in Indian cooking for its distinct flavor. It’s also used in Eastern medicines for its healing properties. Below you will find a recipe for banana flower curry.
But first, let’s talk about what the ingredients in the curry will do for your body apart from your taste buds.
Many plants’ flowers are edible. The flower of the banana plant (which is technically a herb and not a tree) is very interesting to look at. To be eaten, it must be prepared first (more on that later).
The Banana Flower In Brief
- Significant nutrients in banana flower include: protein, fiber, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C and E. Loaded with antioxidants and electrolytes like the fruit, the flower reduces cell oxidative stress, reducing the risk of illness and disease.
- A study in 2014 found banana flower extract to cause “significant cytotoxicity” in cancer cells and stop their progression. Flavonoid and phenol antioxidants contribute to this result (1).
- Banana flower is great for diabetics. It moderates blood sugar and liver protein levels associated with hyperglycemia. In and of themselves, the flowers have a low glycemic index and significant dietary fiber—ideal candidates for reducing symptoms of diabetes (2).
- Banana flower extract is a natural antibiotic, effective against many micro-organisms, including E.coli .(3).
- Malaria can be fatal if left untreated. One study declared “malaria is a major global public health problem”. Banana flower extract was found to kill the parasites that cause malaria (4). Musa paradisiaca (banana flower) also kills mosquito larvae, preventing them from spreading malaria in the first place (5).
- Good news for lactating mothers: banana flower enhances milk production (6).
- Due to their magnesium content, banana flowers reduce anxiety, depression, and improve mood (7).
- Phytochemicals present in banana flowers increase the amount of progesterone the body produces during menstruation, reducing unpleasant symptoms and bleeding.
Musa paradisiaca has been used to treat:
- Poor kidney function
- Peptic ulcer
The recipe below also utilizes Hing, the Indian word for asafoetida. Raw, its pungent smell may be unappetizing but it yields a unique and aromatic flavor after cooking. Hing’s antioxidants umbrelliprenin and ferulic acid have been found to significantly reduce cancer cell proliferation. (8) It is a natural analgesic, anti-spasmodic, laxative, antidepressant, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and aphrodisiac. Hing is also a gentle blood thinner and lowers blood pressure. (9)
Now for the yummy stuff.
How To Prepare Banana Flower:
Blossom should be firm with petals firmly closed and of a maroon color. Pull off the pistils and the outside petals. Allow to soak overnight in salt water before cooking. This will keep it from turning brown and bitter in your recipe. When ready to cook, squeeze out excess water and pull apart the skinny florets and pale pink petals. This will uncover the heart of the flower, like an artichoke heart. It will seep a sticky sap when you chop it; you can either wear gloves or coat your hands with coconut oil to keep the sap from sticking. Some soak the flowers in buttermilk before cooking to prevent them from browning.
You can find full instructions and pictures here.
Banana Flower Curry
- 2 tablespoons mustard or coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 green chili peppers, diced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 banana flower, prepared and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- Salt, to taste
- A pinch of dried hing
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- Water as needed for texture
- ½ cup grated coconut
- Set oil over medium heat in a large pan and place mustard seeds in the oil.
- When seeds begin to sputter, add peppers and onions and stir. Cook until the onions just begin to soften and stir in banana flower.
- Add turmeric, salt, hing, coriander, curry leaves, and mix.
- Pour in a few tablespoons of water, stir, cover pan, and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the grated coconut, serve, and enjoy.