Banana Stem gravy ( Plantain stem kootu, Vazhathandu Mor kootu)

One of the most healthiest dishes prepared with banana stem, is the banana stem gravy or mor kootu as it is called in Southern parts of India.

The Banana tree is a  very rare plant where every part is useful. The nutritive benefits of the stem are many and here is a detailed information about the nutritive benefits of the banana stem.While the leaves are used for eating food , considered very hygienic and healthy too as it imparts a different taste to the food served on the leaf. The fruits are eaten , raw banana used for cooking and the stem too. The flowers of the banana tree are also widely used in cooking a variety of dishes and so healthy .

Banana stem can be cooked or consumed raw in juice form. The stem is cooked in various ways in South Indian cuisine and in some parts of West Bengal. Dishes such as vazhaithandu usli (dry cooked banana stem with lentils), vazhaithandu kootu (banana stem cooked with lentils), vazahaithandu porial (banana stem tempered and garnished with coconut) are popular in Tamil Nadu. Thor chapper, a dish made of banana stem and lentil, is consumed in West Bengal.

Health benefits

Banana stem is a rich source of fibre and helps in weight loss. Its high fibre content creates a feeling of satiation and hence, reduces the intake of food. It also helps ease constipation. Banana stem is rich in potassium and vitamin B6 just like the fruit. Vitamin B6 helps in production of haemoglobin and insulin. Again, it improves the ability of the body to fight infection. Potassium helps in the proper functioning of muscles, including the cardiac muscles. It also helps prevent high blood pressure, and maintain fluid balance within the body. Banana stem is said to be a diuretic and helps detoxify the body. It is used prevent and treat kidney stones.

Banana stem juice is beneficial to health, according to Ayurveda. To make the juice, combine chopped banana stem and water and grind it in a mixer till it becomes smooth. Add some buttermilk and salt. Mix well and drink it immediately. It will be a little astringent and bitter to taste. Banana stem juice combined with buttermilk and taken on an empty stomach helps in weight reduction. The juice also relieves ulcers, burning sensation and acidity. Its astringent quality helps in blood coagulation. Banana stem is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and hence, is recommended in tropical climates....Source..The Hindu

Now to the recipe.



Wash the stem and remove the outer covering which is thick and between the covers you will see the single white tender stem which has no outer cover but a shiny skin.

Remove the layers of thick cover till you see the white stem and , peel the shiny skin on the tender stem, slice into thin roundels. You need to keep taking off the fibers which comes in thin strands   as you slice .

Drop the thin slices into  a bowl of buttermilk to retain the white colour.
After you have finished slicing the stem into roundels, chop them into small pieces and keep them also in buttermilk.

Take a broad pan and cook the chopped pieces in  little buttermilk itself and add some salt.
Meanwhile grate the 1/2 coconut and grind into paste with little water along with 2 green chillis  and 1 tsp of cumin seeds.

The stem pieces would have cooked  quickly if they are very tender and and then add the ground paste and let it simmer on low flame , add the whisked yogurt and keep for a minute on the  gas and then remove. Do not let it cook further once yogurt is added. Just a gentle boil will do.

The gravy would have thickened after adding the coconut paste and the yogurt. 

Take a small pan for the tempering, with 1 or 2 tsp of coconut oil, crackle the mustard seeds, add the udad dal and sprigs of curry leaves, 1 red chili and pour the seasoning on the gravy.

Serve hot with rice. This is a great favorite at home as it is so much similar in taste to Avial  which also uses the same coconut paste .