Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vazhapoo / Banana Flower Vada

Banana Flowers in Red Bracts

Banana flower-head, appearing in the Indian Groceries during this season. Prompted by a recent visit to India and  the opportunity to sample Bengali cuisine  which included,   Banana Flower cutlets, we picked up a 'banana flower head/ Vazha Khumbu'. The opportunity to sample a traditional Bengali spread was at Kolkata's Bhojohari Manna.

Bhojohari Manna in Salt Lake: Served in banana-leaf -lined plates and dish of Shatkora slices ( Citrus Macroptera) and green chillies, seating at the Salt Lake location.
Every order was an individual portion: Steamed banana leaf parcels of fish in mustard spicing- Bhetki Paturi, Malai Chingri, Dak Bangla Mutton Curry with a fried boiled egg and the divine, Nolen Gur Ice Cream in un-glazed earthenware. All photos with a point and shoot Canon.

Deceptive Looks: Banana Flower Cutlet with
a garnish of fried potato flakes.

The visit came through in a quintessentially Bengali way, with warmth and splashes of  humour.   We were urged to visit, a call was put through, assurances received that  it being a 'working day'  a table would be free and suggestions  for ordering were given. All of us at the table were novices, but it ended up appealing to different palates. For friend's the mustard spicing was a hit! Each dish was unique and it was  worth every rupee and more! We stopped at  2 tiny clay pots of this divine, mousse-like ice-cream with the gur paste at the bottom. Sharing it  in tiny spoonfuls, it was perfect  and left us wanting more.

Vazhapoo Vada / Banana Flower  and Channa Dal Vadas
Yields: Approximately 20 nos
Coarsely ground Split Bengal Gram, Vada mix, Ma's recipe
However   here we did a variation, a very traditional South Indian preparation. Similar to the Parippu Vada/ Deep Fried Lentil Discs, the Vazhapoo Vada. The recipe is popular in Chettinad Cuisine. Like the parippu vada, it seemed to have come into our region from the Tamil cuisine. The recipe is linked to Sara's Traditional and Native Recipes and to a favourite, My Legume Love Affair, MLLA # 56 hosted by Lisa's Kitchen. Created by the lovely, Well Seasoned Cook, Susan.
Preparing the banana flowers
Here is a very helpful post by a  very talented and amazing fellow blogger, Swathy of Zesty South Indian Kitchen. It shows you how to 'prepare' the  flowers.

Step One
Put  vegetable oil in your hands
Peel off the red bracts/covering 
Each layer will have rows of yellow-tipped flowers
Remove the stem inside
Take the prepared flowers and rinse them
Finely chop the flowers
*Important: To remove the serum:
Soak  the finely chopped banana flowers in  a bowl of water with 1/4 tsp of  turmeric powder
Soak in buttermilk: In a bowl dilute 1/4 Cup of buttermilk with one cup of water
After 1/2 hour to one hour, squeeze out the chopped banana leaves. Rinsing out the buttermilk is optional. 

Cook with salt  and turmeric powder and  just enough water.
Keep aside.

1/2 Cup dried channa dal/Split Bengal Gram  soaked for a minimum of half to one hour.
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder ( optional )
1/4 tsp Fennel seeds / Saunf/ Perunjeerakam
4 Green Chillies, finely chopped ( according to preference)
1 tsp finely chopped Ginger
1/2 Cup Red Onions, finely chopped
1 stem Curry Leaves, torn rough or finely chopped
 2 tbsps Coriander leaves, finely chopped ( optional)
Vegetable Oil for Deep Frying


  1. Coarsely grind the channa dal
  2. Season with salt, red chilli powder and pepper powder
  3. Add the cooked banana flowers, finely chopped green chillies, finely choipped ginger, finely chopped onions, fennel seeds, chopped curry leaves and chopped coriander.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a deep frying pan
  5. Take approximately 2 tbsps of the mix and flatten into a disc.
  6. Deep fry until golden brown; yeilds approximately 20 Vadas
  7. Drain on paper towels
  8. Serve hot.


  1. I have made these vadais with pottukadalai as suggested in a cookbook. Nice that you have used channa dhal. I have not had vazhaipoo in a long time, we do not get them here.

    1. I did not know about Pottukadali in this recipe Lata; will definitely try that variation too. I am surprised that you do not get Vazhapoo there.

  2. I love this. They call it mocha bora.

    1. Thanks Sangeeta, I wonder how the spicing for that recipe is! Hope to see it from you soon!

  3. That's a delicious spread, vazhaipoo cutlet is brew n interesting n liked the way they served with fried potato flakes...your vada looks yummy n well made!

  4. thank you for linking shri , post the event logo on your sidebar. and follow my fb page

  5. Oh wow...super yummy delicious... :-) lovely clicks..

  6. I am absolutely in love with vazhapoo pictures. And the vadas must have tasted yum.

  7. Thanks Shri, for mentioning my blog. Vazha khumbu vada adipoli. I love it.

  8. Healthy tempting vadas,Shri:)
    Love to see your recipe linked up in Flavors Of Cuisines-"Mexican"

  9. Thanks Jay, Julie, Raji, Divya, Sharanya, Sangeetha!

  10. Your pictures are so dramatic and beautiful! These look delicious too! :)

  11. A totally unfamiliar dish to me but I know I would love it. Thanks so much for sharing with MLLA.

  12. The vadas sound delicious, and I love those dishes with the banana leaf! So pretty...

  13. SO here's the deal, Shri. You come to Pondy for toast with Amul butter and Roselle jam, and I crash at your place for these gorgeous vadas. Okay? ;) Manisha at Indian Food Rocks did a piece on Vazhapoo, as well, but I don't recall if she had a recipe... They're just such lovely and unusual flowers, the banana's best kept secret, ha!

    1. Perfect Deepa! You are most welcome.
      True, this is akin to the coconut tree for us!

  14. Well explained post and super crispy vadas looks so appetizing and nice clicks there :)

  15. Thank you Divya, Jyoti, Srivalli, Nami and Maha!

  16. Banana blossom vada is a family favorite.. nice stepwise pics you have in here!!

  17. Damn my indian banana blossoms as vsilable here!!!!! Next time u see them..please parcel some so that I can try my hand with the vadas..gee...I have become Shameless indeed


Thank you for your valuable feedback!