Today I went to the nearby store to procure some organic produce and was pleasantly surprised to see a new product on the shelf - gleaming banana stem!. The shopkeeper is so passionate about healthy way of eating and traditional knowledge about cooking and eating. So he was offering banana stems free of cost to popularize its use. I instantly picked my share and decided to stir fry the same as a accompaniment with the rasam and tovve (simple dal) that I was planning to prepare for lunch. I also felt it apt to share this simple recipe with friends for the umpteen health benefits that the banana stem offers. That tender banana stem can be a very delectable vegetable is well known in southern India particularly in very traditional kitchens. Unfortunately it has not received the attention that it deserves. Reasons could be that it is generally not deemed auspicious to cook banana stem on days other than annual death ceremonies of elders at home (in brahmin households of Karnataka). There is also a notion that it is difficult to clean and cut the stem. So let us explore if it is really difficult to use banana stem in cooking. So shall we start?
  • Ease - moderate
  • Preparationn time 15 minutes
  • Cooking time 10 minutes
  • Yield - 6 inch long stem (250 gms ) for two.
  • Banana stem - 8 inches long
  • Grated coconut - 2 table spoons
  • Green chilly - 2
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Coriander 1 sprig
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tea spoon
  • Urad dal - 1 tea spoon
  • Oil for tempering - 1 spoon
  • Salt - to taste
  • Chop green chilly, coriander (make two parts)
  • Wash, clean and remove the outer layers of the stem till a tender inner pith is revealed
  • Take a bowl of water and add a spoon of curd to water to drop cut/chopped pieces of the stem

Now slice the stem into sections every time removing the string that you observe (just wind it around a spoon or fore finger) ( becomes easier with practise)

Continue to cut as shown into 1/4 inch cubes and drop the pieces into the water that is kept ready. (this is important else the pieces will become discoloured)

Heat a spoon of oil in a wok, add mustard seed , after they splutter add urad dal, roast till golden, followed by chopped green chilly, curry leaves and chopped coriander (one part). saute for a few seconds

Add cut banana stem, salt to taste and mix well. sprinkle a little water and cook it covered on low flame. Stir it occasionally, add grated coconut and mix well. garnish with fresh chopped coriander ( second part). (Banana stem cooks very fast. Check for tenderness before removing from fire)
Stir fried banana stem aka bale dindu palya, aka valai thandu porial is ready to serve.

Tips and Notes
While cutting banana stem juices may stain your hands so smear your plams lightly with some edible oil
Cutting banana stem comes with practise, however cooking happens in a jiffy