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Banana Flower Stir Fry

A popular Sri Lankan dish, this banana flower stir fry makes a delicious, highly aromatic, unique, and healthy side dish to a variety of meats and vegetables.

banana flower stir fry served with salad

Banana flowers are the blossoms from a banana tree. During my childhood years in Sri Lanka, banana flowers were used in everything from salads to curries to soups. They were easily found everywhere from roadside vendors to specialty supermarkets.

My mom loved cooking banana flowers and during our childhood, my sister and I were lucky to enjoy it in many curries and sambols.

However, when my mom moved to Atlanta, banana flowers were hard to find. At least, that was until we began frequenting a South Asian store called Cherians – where she found her first banana flower outside of Sri Lanka.

I had forgotten about my mom’s favorite vegie until a group I belonged to called The Recipe Redux challenged its members to come up with a recipe using “edible flowers”! When I read some of the examples/suggestions such as using “rose water, flowering herbs, floral teas, dried lavender blossoms or even fresh flowers like nasturtiums, violets, borage, squash, sunflowers”, the first thing that came to mind was “Falooda“, a drink I grew up with that uses rose syrup.

But, then I found a fresh banana flower at Cherian’s and I knew I had to enlist my mom’s help in coking this.


What is a Banana Flower?

Banana flowers are banana blossoms on banana trees.

They are made up of “bracts” – which are the purple leaves; “female flowers” – which are the blossoms tucked inside each purple bract that eventually grows into bananas, and a “heart” which is the white tender part of the flower revealed after the bracts and blossoms have been peeled off.


While it might not look pretty in a vase on your table, it makes one mean stir fry! Banana flower dishes are common in South Asia, but, every one seems to have their unique way in preparing it.

My mom throws away the little blossoms and finely dices the heart and the tender purple bracts (after the more brittle outer layers have been discarded); and makes a stir fry with a ton of spices.


How to clean a Banana Flower:

However, I have seen people clean the blossoms removing the “pistil” (the more brittle stick with a head on it) and the “scale” (the small, translucent part) and using them in a stir fry or curry.

BANANA FLOWER STIR FRY with egg and spinach

I decided to incorporate my mom’s method with what I have seen others do, so I cleaned the blossoms and also chopped up some of the tender bracts and the hearts.

However, it just slipped my mind to immerse the blossoms, heart and tender bracts in a bowl of cold water with lemon, hence the slightly darker blossoms.


While chopping, there seems to be a slimy discharge – which is easily rinsed off under cold water or in a bowl of water with lemon.

Let’s cook a Banana Flower!

I sauteed the chopped parts of this veggie in olive oil, onions, ginger, garlic, and red pepper with a few spices. And, served it on a bed of spinach with an egg on top. When I was a kid, we ate banana flower stir fry with rice and maybe another curry (like this lentil curry); but there’s a plethora of serving options for this flower!

Banana Flower Stir Fry with egg and spinach

Banana Flower Stir Fry

4.32 from 16 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 -4 servings
Author: Shashi
A highly aromatic and unique vegetarian stir fry with banana flower as the star.


  • 1 banana flower
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro and red chili flakes to garnish


  • Clean the banana flower by rinsing under cold water. Remove the outer "bracts" purple leaves and set them aside in a bowl of cold water with lemon.
    banana flower
  • Pull out a "blossom" tucked inside and remove the "pistil" (the more brittle stick with a head on it) and the "scale" (the small, translucent part) and discard these. Place the blossom without the pistil and scale in the bowl of cold water with lemon, with the bracts.
    cleaning a banana flower
  • When all the blossoms have been cleaned, you will have the heart of the banana flower. Rinse it and chop and place in the same bowl along with blossoms and bracts.
    Rinsing parts of banana flower
  • Chop onion, ginger, and garlic and add all three to a saucepan with olive oil. Turn on the stove to medium heat and saute onions, ginger, and garlic for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add in the banana flower heart, blossoms, and bracts that were cleaned and stir well.
  • Chop up red pepper and add to onion mix.
  • Add in the coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, and turmeric, and stir well for a couple more minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro and red chili flakes.
  • Enjoy as a side, or serve with spinach and an egg as a meal.


A banana flower is made up of "bracts" – which are the purple leaves; "female flowers" – which are the blossoms tucked inside each purple bract that eventually grow into bananas; and a "heart" which is the white tender part of the banana flower revealed after the bracts and blossoms have been peeled off.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 72kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 204mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g
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Recipe Rating

  1. Phil on Waiheke Island says:

    I’m going to try this recipe, looks great! We have our first banana flower ready for harvesting this weekend 🙂

    One little correction for you though… the flowers within the bracts here are male flowers, not female flowers. The female flowers emerge from the bracts first, and become bananas.

  2. […] of our favorite vegetarian dishes from Savory Spin:Bean Pumpkin Chili,Moong Lentil Bean Curry,Banana Flower Stir Fry,Mango Tofu,Sauteed Lotus Root and Jicama Salad,Vegetarian Sloppy Joes,Capered Brussels Sprouts, […]

  3. Stacey Robb says:

    I am eager to try this recipe of yours, but after reading the recipe instructions, i didn’t see when i am supposed to add the banana????

    • Shashi says:

      Hi Stacey – thanks so much for stopping by – the banana flower is added in right after the onions, ginger, and garlic. Hope you enjoy it!

  4. Deb says:

    The recipe is missing some steps. The banana flower is set aside in a bowl of water and never referred to again – although a red pepper, not in the ingredients list makes an appearance. I added the pepper and put the drained banana flower in at the same time. I found that the spices overwhelmed the taste of the banana flower so would reduce them slightly next time. I used a little white wine to deglaze after the onions.

  5. Another great recipe to try. Some I am completely new and most of all, curious about!

  6. Mary Frances says:

    I’ve never heard of cooking banana flowers before, it looks beautiful!

  7. kitchenriffs says:

    Really fun post! I’ve never used banana flowers. But after your thoroughly interesting post, I won’t rest until I’ve hunted down a source! Terrific dish — thanks.

  8. So interesting…had never even heard of this before…am sending this to my sister as it is right up her alley!-Ashley

  9. BANANA FLOWER! WTF?!?! never heard of this before in my life!! COOL!

  10. waharris1957 says:

    I’ve always seen banana flowers at the Dekalb Farmers Market, but didn’t know how to prepare them. Your recipe sounds delicious, Shashi! I’m going to grab one the next time I’m there. Great post!

  11. This is super duper interesting. I’ve never heard of banana blossoms before and I’m so intrigued. As soon as I recover from this stupid flu, I’m heading to Asian store down the street to get me some!
    Great recipe Shashi!

  12. tohercore says:

    I have never even heard of cooking with – or eating even! – banana flowers before! Im so intrigued to see what they taste like. Lovely recipe 🙂

  13. Amila says:

    so yummy!I am really eager to grab this.Banana blossoms are one of my favourites

  14. Kelly says:

    Wow, love that you made a stir-fry with banana flowers – so so creative!!! I have never tried banana flowers before but now you’ve totally got me intrigued. Love how pretty and colorful this dish is – way to go on rocking these challenges 🙂

  15. Ashley says:

    I have never seen banana flowers before – so cool! This stir fry is so creative! And now I want to try a banana flower!

  16. OK ,this has got to be one of the most creative/exotic flowers used in this month’s ReDux! I’ve never heard of banana flowers and now I’m itching to try them AND your yummy looking stir fry!

  17. cottercrunch says:

    you seriously are the most creative cook!!! i love me some banana flowers, must try!

  18. Amy @ Long Drive Journey says:

    Yum! I have never cooked with flowers before! What a cool idea! The next time I am in Atlanta, it is going to be for more than 18 hours and we are going to eat some good food!

  19. I’ve never eaten or even seen a banana flower before! The stir-fry looks so good!

  20. atasteofmadess says:

    Never seen banana flowers before. But I am intrigued

  21. Wow! What a challenge. I’ve never cooked with ‘flowers’ obviously I cook with ‘flours’ though.
    I wouldn’t have a clue how to cook something yummy with them either. Great job!

  22. So interesting! I’ve never even heard of banana flowers let alone cook with them! Learn something new every time I come over to your blog 🙂

  23. This looks so yummy! I saw edible flowers at the store the other day and was all “what the heck are those?!” I would have never thought to make a stir-fry. You’re so creative lady!! Yum! Pinned!

  24. Jan @ Sprouts n Squats says:

    Wow this looks absolutely delicious! I love how you always use such innovative ingredients and banana flowers are no exception. I don’t think we have them here but now I wish we did 🙂

    I hope you had a lovely weekend <3

  25. hotlyspiced says:

    I’ve heard of people eating banana flowers but I’ve never seen it done and certainly, I’ve never seen banana flowers for sale in the green grocer’s. This has been really interesting and I hope to try banana flowers one day xx

  26. I’ve had banana flowers in a salad only but I think I’d love this stir-fry!

  27. eatinglocalinthelou says:

    Well now Ive got to see if our international market carries banana flowers so that I can try- such an interesting dish!

  28. Emily says:

    I have never heard of banana flowers before!! This looks yummy.

  29. I love eating banana flower but I must admit that I have never made it in a recipe! Thanks for this! 😀

  30. genevieve y says:

    This sounds so cool! I’ve never had banana flower stir fry but it sounds like something I’d love!

  31. What an interesting dish, Shashi! Where did you get the banana flower? I would love to try it. I have heard great things about this — it was told to be quite aromatic and sweet.

  32. Kim says:

    Wow – I would have had no idea what those were or how to use them!!! The stir fry looks awesome!

  33. I’ve never heard of banana flowers and am ashamed to say I didn’t even know they existed. Your stir fry looks delicious and I would love to try this dish. Banana Flowers must be available at Asian Markets I would imagine.

  34. Joanne says:

    Whoa! I have never seen these flowers before and am so impressed by what you’ve done with them!

  35. Omigoodness… now this is definitely one of the most creative recipes I’ve ever come across. To be honest, if I were told to use edible flowers, I’d probably just make some kind of a salad out of them. Great job, Shashi!

  36. Khushboo Thadani (@KhushbooThadani) says:

    This recipe is so creative, Shashi! I’ve never heard about banana flowers until now but I’m definitely going to look out for it next time I’m at a speciality fruit/veggie store! I’m sure this recipe would leave your mom feeling super proud 🙂

  37. This is so exotic and delicious.