Bananas are perhaps the most popular of all tropical fruits. Thailand has about 20 different varieties o banana.
Bananas were first mentioned in Buddhist Pali writings dating to the 6th century BC. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great discovered the banana while in India. The word itself is derived from the Arabic language and means finger.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Convenience and nutritional value of bananas make them a good post-exercise snack. During long exercises your body loses vitamins and minerals and a banana replaces these nutrients as well as giving you the energy you need.
- Bananas are good for babies, too. They are in fact often the first solid food given to infants. Bananas are easy to digest because they have no fat and very few babies are allergic to bananas.
- A banana (with milk) constitutes almost a complete balanced diet with potassium, vitamins and fiber.
All about bananas
A banana is the most unique of all fruit because unlike any fruit it does not come from trees at all but from large plants that are giant herbs and are related to lily and orchid family. Bananas are usually yellow in colour when ripe but can also be found in various colours such as purple and red. They also come in various sizes. The ripe fruit is easy to peel and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Bananas can be eaten at any hour because they are very nourishing and very easy to digest. Bananas contain no cholesterol and are full of proteins. The sugar they contain provides energy to those involved in endurance sports.
They also contain iron and magnesium and plenty of vitamins. In addition, they contain a substantial amount of potassium and are recommended for people who need more potassium. They also have a very low sodium content and are recommended for people on low salt diets.
Purchasing and storing
Yellow bananas are easily available in most places through the year. The more exotic varieties are harder to find and may be found in supermarkets or in ethinic market places such as Hispanic, Philippine, and Thai markets.
Bananas that are ready to eat should be yellow with some brown spots and just a tinge of green at the ends. The texture should be firm and smooth. If you plan to keep the bananas for a while it is better to buy those that are slightly green and firm and have no bruises. Bananas that have a dull grey tint have probably been refrigerated and are not likely to have ripened properly. Bananas ripen quickly and after a few days more brown spots wll appear and they will become sweeter but will soon be overripe. Once bananas are over ripe they should not be eaten but can be used for cooking.
Bananas should always be stored at room temperature. Storing unripe bananas in the refrigerator will stop them from ripening and also change the taste. Ripe bananas can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days but the peel will become discoloured and brown. However, this will not affect the taste or texture of the flesh.
Soaking bananas in a mixture of lemon juice and water in the propotion of 1:2 also helps to prevent browning. Soak the banana slices for a few minutes and then drain out the acidulated water and pat dry the slices with paper napkins.
The best way to eat bananas is to eat them fresh. However, they can be used in various other ways too. They can be used in pies, puddings, cakes and breads. They also go well with yoghurt and can be added to fruit salads, milk shakes and custards.Bananas can also be cooked by methods such as baking, frying, boiling, steaming, and sautéing. They are often used in savoury dishes. Bananas are dried to make a snack which is high in calories. Raw bananas are sliced, dried and then fried to make banana chips.
Ripe bananas can be stored for future use by mashing and then freezing. A little lemon juice is essential to to prevent the fruit from discoloring. The mixture should then be placed in airtight containers or bags and frozen till required. The mashed bananas can be used for recipes for cakes and breads as well as fruit shakes.The mixture will keep for up to two months.
- 3 or 4 medium whole bananas are equal to approximately 1 1/3 cup of mashed bananas.
- Instead of throwing away overripe bananas mash and freeze them in airtight containers and use in any recipe that calls for mashed banana such as cakes, muffins etc.
- Blending mashed bananas with ice cream makes a delicious banana shake.
- Place a ripe banana with unripe apples or vice versa speeds up the process of ripening.
- Refrigerate ripe bananas to slow the ripening process. This will make them last l
Bananas in Bengali Cuisine
In India, the cuisine is deeply influenced by the richness of the soil and availability of water. Bengal and Bengalis are legendary for the sophistication of their cuisine and their complete and total obsession about food.
It is said that nothing goes to waste in a Bengali kitchen. Take the case of the banana plant, the Bengalis utilise each and every part of the banana plant. Apart from eating the ripe bananas, the leaves are used for serving, the stems (thor) are cooked as ghonto or chhechhki, the blossoms (mocha) are also consumes as ghonto and paturi (a way of cooking food wrapped in banana leaves).
The fruit is available both in the ripe and raw form, the latter being considered ideal for koftas. The peel is crushed and ground to a paste and fried for a delicious starter. Even today, it is traditional to use the banana leaves in lieu of plates for eating at weddings. This is probably the most eco-friendly disposable plate.
Banana and health
Banana has many health benefits
- It prevents heart disease
- It provides soothing protection from ulcers.
- It protects our eyesight
- It helps promote bone health
- It promotes kidney health.
- The health benefits of bananas
- 6 health benefits of bananas
- Banana Cutlet Recipe on youtube
- Watch the video and make delicious Banana Halwa
- Great recipe for Mochar Ghonto. Mocha is the flower of the Banana.
- Delicia Figo D'Horta or the Banana Delight. There is a large yellow variety of banana that grows in Goa. The Portuguese called them Figo d'horta and the prosaic Goans referred to them as sal dathene or thick skinned. They have a slightly sour taste and taste great in this recipe from the Essential Goa Cookbook by Maria Teresa Menezes.