Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Banana Blossom - Keraa ko Bungo - (केराको बुङ्गो)

Image of a large banana blossom - Keraa ko Bungo -  (केराको बुङ्गो)
The fruit of banana tree - common name: Plantain, Banana - Bot.name: Musa paradisiaca L

Banana blossoms or buds are the tender heart of unopened banana flowers called keraa ko bungo - (केरा को बुङ्गो) in Nepali.  The rusty purple colored blossoms has several sheaths and is roughly shaped like a heart.  It is eaten as a cooked vegetable, made into spicy curries mixed with other vegetables or prepared into fresh pickles (achaar).  Before cooking, the outer tough sheaths of the banana blossoms need to be stripped off until the tender inner yellowish bud is revealed. You may have to remove a lot of tough leaves to get the inner edible part of the blossom.  There are non-edible portions of the banana flower that need to be removed before using. The raw buds can be a little bitter, so it is mostly prepared as a cooked vegetable in Nepal.  Before handling the fresh banana blossoms, it is recommended that you rub your hands and knife with some cooking oil to prevent sap from the blossoms to discolor your hands. If you ever get hold of banana blossoms in your fresh food markets, or Asian produce section area of your supermarket, please try the recipe that I have posted in the "Taste of Nepal" cookbook - page 136 for Keraa ko Bungo ko Tarkaari (Banana Blossom Curry) recipe.  I am sure the vegetable will be a delicious treat!  

The first time I saw the banana flower was after I arrived at my cousin's farm house in the Tarai area of Nepal near Chitwan National Park. At my cousin's backyard,  I spotted a beautiful rusty-purple banana blossom that was hanging at the end of a stalk from a banana tree.  This is the first time I saw a banana tree with blossom and had no idea that they were edible. Being born and raised in Kathmandu, the blossoms were not frequently seen in the local vegetable markets; actually, it was rarely seen in those days.  Bananas are grown throughout the warmer regions of Nepal covering Tarai, inner Tarai and central hills.  Here are some pictures that I captured from my camera.

A quick snap shot from the tourist bus along the road, "Kathmandu-Pokhara-Chitwan" -  capturing the picture of banana trees while passing and observing local culture and scenery.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nepal ranks 56th in banana production in the world. Although bananas are grown across the country, the Tarai plains lead in output. Kailali is the top banana producing district in Nepal with production in the last fiscal year reaching 11,558 tons.  Other large producers are Morang, Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Sunsari, Rupendehi and Kapilvastu. Nepal has six different species of banana.....click here to read more...
This image shows a friendly local village women, helping me to take pictures of green banana in a row and the blossom that is hanging down pointing to the ground.  She is gently holding the banana leaves to expose more fruits for my picture.
The edible banana blossoms are very popular in many Southeast Asian countries.  Please click here to watch this helpful video to learn how to clean and cut banana blossom and flower.
 The small banana that are found in Nepal has small blossoms and the locals tell me "सानो बुङ्गो को अचार धेरै-धेरै मिठो हुन्छ" (translation - the fresh pickle made from small blossoms are much tastier with good flavor and texture).  I am not sure if this is true or even wonder if everyone agrees with this... 
Some people reserve the outer tough layers (petals) of banana blossom to make a decorative serving bowl.  I do not have the images of such exotic presentation, but I am going to link to other blogger's page.  Please click here and here
Here is a picture of a bunch of rusty purple petals from banana blossoms that has curled up and dropped on the ground.
Image of just picked banana blossom at my cousin's farm house - getting ready to clean and cut the blossom and flowers.
The banana blossom for sale at the produce section of Asian food stores in New York. Before purchasing these, make sure they are firm to touch, open out one or two sheaths to check if they look fresh.  If they are old and black, it will be tasteless and bitter.
Many people compare the taste of banana blossoms with fresh artichoke hearts, but I think it has its own distinguished taste and if prepared properly, they are delicious.

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  1. Awesome just awesome article. I think this article may help my friend also that’s why I just share this article with my facebook. I am a regular reader of this blog. I learn a lot from your writing. Once again want to tell you good job. Thank you.
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  2. I have never tried it but it look amazing. I hope I get to try it one day.

  3. what are the species of banana found in nepal please