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Making banana flower sabji: A meditative experience

The simplest way to ensure food security is to grow your own food. Recently, I had this blissful experience of making banana flower curry from our own home-grown banana plant.

Step 1: We plucked the banana flower since it had matured. The first step is cleaning the flower. What is done is in this step is that the outer reddish layers of the flower (bracts) are removed. The inner small finger-like florets are taken. We need to go on peeling the layers and taking the inner florets. Go on till the florets become very small and a white central part is visible. This part we take fully.

Step 2: Each floret has a rubbery, tough pistil (refer photograph) that needs to be removed. Yes, you read it right! It needs to be manually pulled out from each floret because it does not get cooked. Well, yes, that is a lot of work. But mind you - I find it really meditative. The process is mechanical, repetitive and keeps your focused and engaged so you do not think about anything else - doesn't that qualify as "meditative"?

Step 3: The cleaned florets are then finely chopped and immersed in watery buttermilk to do away with the turat (pungent?) taste. We usually keep them immersed overnight or for a couple of hours.

Step 4: The watery buttermilk from the chopped immersed florets is drained off using a colander.

Step 5: They are now pressure-cooked with a handful of groundnuts - taking care not to overcook the florets.

Step 6: The usual oil tadka with chopped green chilly, the cooked florets and groundnuts, a generous amount of fresh grated coconut, salt to taste and jaggery is what goes into the making of the sabji, with fresh coriander for garnishing.

The sabji is an experience rather than merely a dish; since it starts with the banana plant, seeing it flower, plucking the flower, the effort that goes in cleaning the flower by hands and then cooking. I feel the value of food is enhanced if we are involved to this extent in the process - making it a very beautiful, and of course - an appetizing experience.

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