Kola urundai is traditionally prepared with minced goat meat and is a specialty in my family – made on very very special occassions. It was made by my mom for my husband(who unlike me is not a vegetarian), as one of his first meals at my house. But whenever my mom makes these, she also would make a vegetarian specialty that I love, to make it equally special for me. Sometimes, it used to be a vegetarian version very similar to the meat preparation – made with vazhaipoo – or banana blossom. Even meat lovers in my family would choose this version over their favorite meat one, because it is so darn tasty.
I was surprised that I had not had any recipes that used banana blossom in my blog. I think it mostly is because we don’t get as fresh banana blossoms here in the US as we do back in India, and that the prep work it involves is quite tedious – for someone like me. (Read as not as patient as my mom, 🙂 )
If you are used to making vazhaipoo vadai – think of this as a quicker, easier recipe than that, but kinda mimicks the same taste, coss this does not involve soaking dals in advance, but uses roasted gram dal powder to bind the batter instead. Also, I have precooked the florets in the microwave, before frying them, which also aids in less absorption of oil, make it a tad bit healthier.
The Banana Blossom – Demystified(How to prep this thing?)
For those of who not familiar with this – or wondering how the heck to they eat something like this, I have tried to explain how to prep and use this. (Unfortunately, since I did the prepwork late at night, was too lazy to get pictures. Will update it later if I get a chance)
* No we do not eat the whole thing. 🙂 In fact, it really is only maybe 25% of this thing that gets consumed, the rest is discarded.
* The purply outer leaves(petals?) are removed, and inside tiny little florets are seen – very similar to a bunch of bananas.
* These flowers tend to oxidize, so have a bowl of water handy.
* Start by rubbing a drop of oil on your left hands and hold a bunch of the inner florets in the right. Rub the tips of the florets on to your right hand, thereby seperating the stamen.
* Yank out the stamen and a thin membrane that you see in the bottom.
* Soak it in the bowl of water, to prevent discoloration.
* Repeat until you peel away all the purple leaves and when you encounter a completely yellow portion of the blossom. Stop. You may use the whole thing now.
* Chop the entire thing now into fine pieces. If planning to use later, soak it in water. Sqeeze in a towel to extract all moisture before using.
1 banana blossom, cleaned, prepped and chopped as above
1 cup roasted gram dal/pottukadalai/dalia
1 medium red onion chopped fine
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
6 red chillies
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
salt to taste
oil, to deep fry
Place the drained chopped florets in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, powder the roasted gram dal until fine. Remove, set aside. In the same blender/spice grinder, add the fennel seeds, ginger and red chillies. Pulse until fine. Now remove the cooked florets. Let cool, squeeze out any water that has come out and place half the florets in the blender with the fennel chilly mixture. Pulse until combined – maybe 2-3 pulses. Do not make this into a paste – this has to be very coarse. Remove this and add it to the rest of the cooked, chopped florets along with the chopped onion and chopped cilantro. Use your hands and knead this mixture. Slowly add the powdered gram dhal and bind it into a dough. I used up all the powder, but it really depends on the type of your floret and how moist it is. The end product is a moist dough, very similar to chapati dough consistency. Check for salt.(It is completely cooked, so, yes, you taste. 🙂 )
Heat the oil in a wok/kadai. Pinch the dough into marble sized balls. With the oil over medium heat, fry 3-4 balls at a time, until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Serve as an appetizer/snack or a side.
Verdict: Super crisp, mildly spicy flavored by the ginger, fennel and the chillies – this is a perfect way to sneak in banana blossom into people who don’t like/hate the vegetable. They will not even know its there. All they will tell you is that it is delicious and ask for more. 🙂 The onions and cilantro add a nice flavor and it did not absorb too much oil at all. Perfectly delicious bites of joy!Pin It