Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sanjeev Kapoor: Kelphulachi Bhaji (Banana Flower Stir Fry)

When I walked into my local fabulous grocery and saw these big red flowers for sale, I was immediately interested.  Turns out they were banana flowers, and I bought some without already having a plan for what to make with them.  I figured maybe a curry of some sort.  Turns out banana flowers are used in mock fish curries (I assume because of their texture?), but then I looked further and saw multiple references to a banana flower stir fry.  This dish is actually a pretty delicious use of banana flower, which to me tastes a little like a green banana (because it basically is?).  While not something I'll make every day, this was definitely a fun experiment with a new ingredient.

Note: I used Kashmiri chili powder instead of the hotter red chili powder called for (which is similar to cayenne in heat), but I'm also a hot pepper baby.  I also only used half of a serrano pepper instead of the 2 or 3 called for below.

Kelphulachi Bhaji (Banana Flower Stir Fry)
Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor

1 large banana flower
½ cup dried split mung beans (moong dal)
3 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 to 6 curry leaves
Pinch asafoetida (hing)
2 to 3 green chilies, finely chopped (such as serrano)
1½ teaspoons red chili powder (lal mirch)
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
Sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon grated jaggery
¼ cup shredded fresh coconut
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

Remove the outer redish leaves of the banana flower, separate the inner white stalks/flowers and use these flowers for this stir fry. Wash the thin white flowers, drain, and chop.  Keep the flowers soaked in water overnight.  Soak the mung beans in one cup of water for at least thirty minutes. Drain.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.  As they begin to change color, add the curry leaves, asafoetida, and green chilies.  Stir well.  Add the split green gram and saut√© for a minute.  Add the banana flowers, mix well, and then add the chili powder, turmeric, salt, and jaggery.  Cover and cook until the banana flower is done.  Add the coconut and mix well.  Serve hot garnished with the cilantro.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

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