Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Banana peels – no slip

The banana is one of those plants that is in Steinbeckian terms (HA! finally got in my Cannery Row reference here!) a veritable “miracle of supply.” No part of the plant goes unused, at least in Southern India of which part I claim nativeness. Leaves make the best disposable plates (as many weddings will attest) and not just the fruit, but the flowers blossomes, and inner stalks are all edible. And if that weren’t enough, so is the peel. I’m talking about the variant of the banana that is eaten green – aka plaintains by some, though there are so many varieties that are eaten in different ways that I’m no longer sure which is called which. And I think it is my use of this ingredient that had my dear friend and nemesis AD tease me unmercifully about the fact that I rummage through the garbage for my ingredients! Not that he’s averse to eating (and dare I claim enjoying?) the finished product.

And what the hey? After all, potato skins have become a standard offering in retaurants across the US, even in some gourmet restaurants so why not the peels of bananas & plaintains? Even more so than the ‘tater peels the plantain peels are chockful of nutrients – especially potassium I believe.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to use them. Try it, and I guarantee you will be surprised.

Crispy plaintain peel saute with nuts and spices

Soak and boil the pieces of plantain peel in water acidulated with tamarind, lemon/lime juice, or in the absence of either some mild vinegar. Drain cool and then chop into a fine dice discarding any particularly tough, stringy or fibrous parts of the peel. Heat some oil in a saute pan with 1/2 – 1 tsp of mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, and some curry leaves if you have them. When the seed begin to sizzle and sputter, add some finely minced fresh ginger root, chopped green or red chilly pepper and some coarsely chopped cashew nuts. Stir briskly and then add the chopped peel. Turn heat to low, season with salt, turmeric, red chilly or cayenne pepper and continue to fry adding more oil if necessary. Add a generous amount of flaked fresh or dry coconut to the frying mixture and stir over the heat until the color just begins to turn. Remove from hear and serve garnished with curry leaves or chopped cilantro and a wedge of lime or lemon for additional tanginess if desired.

Plantain peel thoghayal (chutney)

Follow directions for basic thoghayal (in the chutney chapter) using the boiled, coarsely chopped plantain peel in place of the smoked aubergine or pumpkin. This thoghayal tastes best mixed with rice (and a touch of sesame oil) with a green vegetable on the side. It also make a surprisingly good spread on toasted slices of bread.

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