Back from a 2 week holiday, V and me were craving for some light comfort food. Some fibre-rich dish which has some body again and mildly spiced. The very same day, ma in law sent me along fresh chunks of stem chopped out from her garden! I was excited.
Many of you already are aware of the goodness of banana stem. If not, here we go:
Banana stem adds bulk to the food and is very useful for all those who wish to lose weight.The fibre in the stem helps to cure constipation and detoxify the body. Banana stem also acts like a diuretic helping to eliminate waste fluids from the body and helps in eliminating kidney stones. Being a body cooler, it is highly recommended in tropical countries.
Young, tender stems can be used for salads. They can be squeezed for juice. The stem can be cooked into varied dishes like soups and curries and what explained here is the recipe of Koottu or a lentil based curry made with the tender stem. This is a no grind and a healthy recipe which is simple to whip up!
Total time needed - less than 30 minutes
Chopped banana stem - 1 cup
Dry roasted moong dal - 1/3 cup
Turmeric powder- 2 fat pinches
Sambhar powder- 1/4 tsp
Crushed Jeera/Cumin- 1/4 tsp
Crushed or minced shallots- 3 no:s
Grated Coconut- 2 tbsps
Salt- as needed
Oil - a tsp
Mustard seeds - half of 1/4 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilly- 1- broken into 3 bits
Curry leaves- a sprig
Start with a foot long piece of banana stem. Peel the loose, fibrous outer cover until you get the shiny thin stem inside.
I chopped away the outer glossy part a bit to get the core interior.
Slice thin across as round discs. Do this patiently as the fibres get revealed. You need to remove them using your fingers each time you slice. This way you get rid of the excess threads.
Collect the slices as you cut along, in a bowl of water in which a tsp of curd or a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar is added. The acidic base slows down the oxidation or browning of the banana stem.
Chop the discs as fine as possible.
Remove the acidic water. Give a quick rinse to the bits with fresh water and transfer to a small pressure cooker ( I used my 3 litr one). Pressure cook (the stem alone, with water added just until the bits are immersed ) for 4-5 whistles or until cooked. Allow the steam to vent off and open the lid.
Rinse dal and stir along.
Add the remaining ingredients; sambhar powder, turmeric powder, grated coconut, cumin, onions and salt. Add water if necessary to immerse the contents. The stem bits let out water while getting cooked, so you may already have enough water from the previous stage. Top up only if needed. Stir gently to combine and cook for maximum 2 whistles. The second pressure cooking is to cook the dal so take care to get them rightly cooked and not mushy. Mine demands 2 whistles, you can restrict to one too according to your preference.
Allow the steam to vent off and open. The dal is cooked right and the spices have melded along. Check salt at this point.
To Season- Heat oil, splutter the mustard seeds, brown the urad dal, throw in the chilly bits followed by the curry leaves. I let the chillies burn a bit in heat while zooming to take the picture :), so take care you don't do the same :)
Pour over the curry.
Enjoy Vazhai Thandu Koottu with steamed rice and some tangy curry to compliment the mildness.
We had our comfort lunch with pulichakeerai or the tangy spinach curry ( from ma in law) and arisi appalam or the rice crisps.