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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.

bananaflower

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.

bananaflowershoots

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.

bananaflowerPREP

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.

leftovers

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

Yield: 2-4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

A highly aromatic and unique vegetarian stir fry with banana flower as the star.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. Add in the banana flower heart, blossoms, and bracts that were cleaned and stir well.
  6. Chop up red pepper and add to onion mix.
  7. Add in the coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, and turmeric, and stir well for a couple more minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro and red chili flakes.
  9. Enjoy as a side, or serve with spinach and an egg as a meal.

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 72Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 204mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 5gSugar 3gProtein 3g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram &/or Pinterest tagging @SavorySpin #SavorySpin

Stacey Robb

Monday 17th of May 2021

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

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

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!

Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ

Friday 27th of June 2014

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

Mary Frances

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

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

Shashi

Thursday 26th of June 2014

Thanks so much Mary

kitchenriffs

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

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.

Shashi

Thursday 26th of June 2014

Thanks so much - I am hoping you find some and enjoy them as much as my daughter and I did

The Dose of Reality

Wednesday 25th of June 2014

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

Shashi

Thursday 26th of June 2014

Thanks so much Ashley - hope your sis likes it :)

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