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Posted at: Apr 15, 2018, 1:54 AM; last updated: Apr 15, 2018, 1:54 AM (IST)FOOD TALK

Getting down to banana stem

Getting down to banana stem

Pushpesh Pant

What a versatile fruit banana is! Not for nothing is the plant that gifts it lovingly called kalp vriksha, the wish fulfilling tree. The fruit, the flower and the stem can be consumed. The leaves are used to pack some foods before they are cooked, to make ‘containers’ to carry it in or as disposable eco-friendly plates. But why beat around the bush? Let us come straight to the point. We have had enough of mocha cutlet, kachche kele ki tikiya, kofte, chips, etc. What excites the jaded palate is the stem. We had it for the first time at the house of legendary Tamil film actress Sowcar Janaki, who treated us to a blissful meal of rice, stir-fried prawns and banana stem curry in buttermilk. Since we have savoured other recipes, both dry as well as gravy-based, and were beginning to think that there was nothing more to explore when friend Nishant Choubey pulled a rabbit out of his chef’s hat — a Kadali Tikka. Easy to cook, light and refreshing, low in calories and high in water content, this crunchy morsel is a tempting finger food you can splurge on without any guilty conscience.

Kadali Tikka

Ingredients

Banana stem (tender, peeled)  12-inch piece

Curd (thick) 1/3 cup 

Garlic-ginger paste 1 tbsp

Kashmiri red chilli powder 1 tsp

Cumin powder 1tsp

Coriander powder 2 tsp

Turmeric powder 1 pinch

Chaat masala/tandoori masala 1 tsp

Salt To taste

Oil To stir fry

Method

Cut the soft core of the stem into about 1-1/2 inch thick discs. Halve and then cut again into bite-sized chunks. Cook in a pressure cooker until one whistle. Take it off the stove, remove the pressure and drain the water. Prepare a marinade of curd and powdered spices, except the chaat/tandoori masala and salt. Put the chunks of stem into it. Mix and keep aside for 30 minutes. Heat oil in a pan, put in the ginger-garlic paste and stir fry briskly for 30 seconds. Then add the tikka along with the marinade. Stir-fry on medium flame till most of the moisture evaporates. Sprinkle chaat/tandoori masala on top. Serve hot. To be honest, we like it more at room temperature and as an accompaniment with daal-roti.

PS: Kadali is the Sanskrit word for banana. The stem of the tree is used as a simile for the seductive nayika’s thighs in erotic poetry.

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