Sunday, April 26, 2009
Vazhathandu or banana stem is extensively used in cooking in Kerala and Tamil nadu. It has many medicinal properties. It contains potassium, minerals and other vitamins. It is a good diuretic and a good antihypertensive. Since it contains a lot of fibre it also constitutes a bulk food with low calorie content. Consuming banana stem atleast once a week will ensure a clean stomach. We prepare molagootal, pachadi, poduthaval and thoran with the stem. However, be warned preparing the stem for cooking is time consuming and hard.We have never prepared vazhathandu karuvadam at home. The only times I have seen this being made is when Kanakam mami made them at my friend's house. It is called killu karuvadam, as the dough has to be pinched into small bits and dried. My astute and blessed mother-in-law used to say, "It is a time consuming process ... only Parukutty manni has the patience to do that," referring to her neighbour. I had also never thought of making vazhathandu karuvadam all these days because we had to buy vazhathandu from the market. This year though, I have a good garden with plenty of banana trees which have started giving fruit. Banana plants only last until they fruit once, so after it has given of its fruit, the plant has to be cut and the stem may now be used for cooking. Since I had so much vazhathandu (our neighbours do not know how to prepare vazhathandu), I decided to prepare vazhathandu karuvadam this year. And it was a good decision. The karuvadams are so cruncy and yummy that I ended up making quite a few lots.Since I did not know the process, I called my athanga (cousin) and asked her how to prepare Vazhathandu karuvadam and followed her recipe. Here we go.Ingredients:Vazhathandu(banana stem): 1' longRaw rice: 2 cupshing: pea sizegreen chillies : 4salt to taste.Method:Wash and soak the rice with hing for 3 hours. Grind with salt and green chillies to a smooth paste. Let the batter sit overnight.The next day:Cut the vazhathandu into thin discs. As you cut it you will get fibres which need to be wound around the fingers and then removed. The small discs then have to be cut lenghtwise and across to make them into tiny pieces. This is the method to cut vazhathandu for any preparation. This process will blacken the fingers and hence it is advised to smear the hands with a little cooking oil or butter milk or salt.Boil 10 cups of water in a wide mouthed pan and add the cut vazhathandu pieces and salt. Allow to boil for 10 minutes. Add the ground batter and keep stirring until the batter is cooked well and it forms a nice soft dough. Allow to cool. When cool, pinch small pieces of dough and drop in a sheet and allow to dry in the sun for 2 days. Your vazhathandu karuvadam is ready to fry. njoy!Tip: instead of pinching the dough, I dropped spoonfuls of dough in the sheet and then pinched off bits from these drop. I thought it was much easier. Follow whichever you find easier.