If God created something that can be used from top to bottom, it is the Banana tree. Banana tree( Vaazhai maram) itself, along with the raw banana cluster( Vaazhai Thar), is used as an auspicious symbol of prosperity in Wedding altars, temples and festive occasions. Banana leaf ( Vaazhai Ilai) is used as a platter in South Indian households. Raw banana(Vaazhaikai) is used to make chips and used in vegetable side dish preparations. Banana fruit (Vaazhai pazham) of course, can be enjoyed as a fruit and also used in halwa and panchamirtham etc. Banana stem or (Vaazhaithandu) can be made as a dry vegetable dish and in gravies. Banana flower( Vaazhai Poo), can be cooked into exotic dishes like parupu usili.
Parupu usili means lentil crumbs.It’s full of protein and Vitamins. It is my all time favorites. Since I posted Morekuzhambu, I felt the need to post Parupu usili coz, the combination is like Shiva -parvathi. They just go hand in hand with each other. Parupu usili , morekuzhambu combo would be my typical weekend menu. It such a deadly combination, that anybody that eats would fall in love with the dish. The preparation is a little elaborate. My mom would give me the task of separating the “Kallan- or thief”, which is the pith of the flower. It has to be removed, as it would be hard to digest. I would patiently sit and remove all the kallans. Then my mom would chop the flowers and start the preparation. Lemme tell you how its done.
- Thoor Dhal- 1 cup.
- Channa dhal- 2tsp.
- Banana Flower-1.
- Red chillies-2.
- Salt-to taste.
- Turmeric powder-a pinch.
- Asafoetida- a pinch.
- Oil-4-5 tsp.
- Mustard seeds-1tsp.
- Soak the Thoor dhal and Channa Dhal in warm water for half an hour.
- While the dhals are soaking, remove the pith from the banana flowers and chop them finely.
- Cook the banana flowers with a little water. Can be done in a microwave and drain excess water.
- Drain the water in the dhal, add red chillies, salt , turmeric and asafoetida and grind them to a fine paste in a mixer.
- Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and after the seeds splatter, add the ground paste.
- Cook well, using two ladles, until, it gets cooked.
- Add the cooked flowers to the cooked lentils and mix well.
- Leave it for 5 minutes in the stove and turn the heat off.
- The parupu usili is ready now and can be served with white rice, ghee and of course morekuzhambu.
The ground lentils can be steamed, (instead of cooking with oil) like you would do for Idlis.This would save some time in cooking and would consume very less oil.
Other popular vegetables that are used to make parupu usili are Beans, clusterbeans or kothavaranga, Cabbage.
Make sure, you remove excess water from the cooked flowers, so the parupu usili will be dry and not sticky.
I use a dedicated cutting board for banana flower, raw banana cutting, as it may leave some stain inthe board.