Vazhaipoo or the banana flower is a very delicious flower. Peeling it layer after layer can be bit of a job but the dish turns out to be mouth watering. This flower has a unique bitterness to it, so if we can mask it then the kids will like it too. Though this flower can be used in a couple of recipes, vadai always seems to be a winner. During my initial days of cooking, cooking masala vadai used to be a big feat. My innocent hubby used to laud my efforts then. But slowly he started understanding that it is the easiest and that there are too many version of this basic vadai. Well I had to graduate to a higher standard every time I cooked vadai. Then came the experiments with many different vadais. Mostly all the vadais are almost the same just the ingredients need to be altered accordingly.
The first time I cooked Vazhaipoo vadai, there were black stamens sticking out of the vadai. That was because I didn't really know how to clean it. But later I learnt it and it is very simple. You have to discard the small plastic looking filament at the bottom and the black stamen at the top. These two are not edible. Rest just immerse in a thin buttermilk to avoid browning. At some point the flower will be just the size of the palm. You can use the flower as a whole now. Chop it and immerse in buttermilk.
- Bengal Gram - 1 cup
- Banana Flower - 1, cleaned and chopped
- Raw rice - 1 tbsp or Rice flour - 1 tbsp
- Onion - 1, big
- Ginger - 1" piece
- Curry leaves - 1 sprig
- Hing - 1/8th tsp
- Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
- Red Chillies - 4
- Salt to Taste
- Oil to fry
Soak the Bengal gram along with the raw rice for about 1.5 hours. Clean the vazhaipoo (soak in buttermilk till you begin chopping) and roughly chop it. Add the Vazhaipoo to a cooker and pour 1/2 cup of water. Pressure cook the cleaned and chopped Vazhaipoo for about 2 whistles. When the pressure subsides let it cool. Drain the excess water and squeeze the vazhaipoo.
In a blender add the red chillies, hing, fennel seeds and ginger. Blend them till they become a coarse paste. Take care not to add too much water. Drain the water from the bengal gram and add it to the blender. If you are using rice flour you can add it now and add salt accordingly. Grind the gram till it is coarsely ground. Then add the cooked vazhaipoo and pulse grind it for about 2 times.
Transfer the ground mixture to a bowl and add the chopped onion and Curry leaves. Heat a kadai and add oil. Take a lemon sized ball and flatten it in your palm. When the hot is medium hot, slide it in the oil. This step takes a bit of practice but you will nail it after some 4 vadas. When they turn golden brown, take the vadas out and drain them on a paper napkin. Serve hot with ketchup or chutney.