For the non-tamil speakers, it’s the Banana Stem, which we refer to as “Vazhai Thandu”. And we at home are always taught about the wonderful medicinal properties of this Vazhai thandu and almost once in every week, it’s there on the menu.
Here is a small glimpse of the medicinal properties, which I found at http://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/medicinal-properties-of-the-banana-plant.htm
When a bunch of bananas is harvested, the stem/tree is cut away. The tender inner stem is used as food and has many medicinal properties as well.
Layers of hard outer stem are peeled away and only the tender inner stem is used. It is very fibrous, so the thread fiber has to be cleaned. The stem is chopped into small bits and soaked in buttermilk or diluted yogurt for half hour. In Southern parts of India, it is cooked as a vegetable and eaten along with rice.
The banana stem has fiber – this is very beneficial for those on a weight-loss program. It is also a rich source of potassium and vitamin B6 which helps in the production of insulin and hemoglobin. Eating banana stem once a week keeps high blood pressure in control. Banana stem also maintains fluid balance within the body. It is adiuretic and helps detoxify the body. The popular belief is that eating banana stem is very good for kidney stones.
Now, to the yummy Vazhai Thandu curry !!!
Vazhai thandu is sold after cutting into foot long stems. Buy one of them to make a curry that’ll serve a family of 4.
Vazhai thandu is very fibrous and so we slice them into small circles, thereby removing the fiber every time we slice. And then cut them into small cubes and soak them in diluted butter milk, so that the white color is retained. (Refer picture)
Now, soak about a table spoon of Moong dhal in water for 1/2 an hour.
Take a pan, add 1 tsp of oil. When hot, add 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp of split urid dhal, 2 split red chillies, curry leaves. When everything crackles, add in the soaked moong dhal and mix well.
Now drain the cut Vazhai thandu out of the diluted butter milk and add it to the pan, add salt to taste and mix well.
Cover and cook till Vazhai thandu is soft to touch.
Sprinkle grated coconut and turn off heat. Mix well and serve with sambar rice or Vetha kuzhambu rice.