A powerhouse of nutrients and an instant energy booster, the banana is one of the most common fruits available everywhere in the globe and in India year-round. From eating it as is to making sinful desserts – banana has extreme importance in India and its cuisine. This fruit is rich in potassium, vitamins, fibre, calcium and iron, and contains natural antacids, natural slow-release sugars and more. This fruit, rather its plant, is super versatile where every part of it is edible or can be used to prepare delicious dishes.
This fruit, rather Banana plant is super versatile where every part of it is edible or can be used to prepare delicious dishes. Read Pritish Kumar Halder article to know more interesting facts about bananas.
About the tree
Unlike trees, the banana has a succulent, juicy pseudostem that emerges from a fleshy corm in the ground from which multiple suckers grow. The banana plant has smooth, tender leaves arranged in a spiral around the stem. Depending on the species or hybrid, leaves can be up to 9 feet long and may be entirely green or variegated. Male and female flowers are borne in a cluster at the tip of the stem; female flowers eventually mature into the banana fruits.
Cultural and Environmental Care
Bananas prefer rich, fertile soils and a sunny, sheltered location. These plants thrive under uniformly warm or hot conditions. Plant growth slows if temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and irreversible freeze damage may occur below 32 degrees. High winds can cause leaf shredding and drying and may topple plants. Banana plants require ample water and will suffer if the soil dries out; however, they are not flood tolerant. Each stem only produces flowers and fruits once, so the active stem must be cut away to allow new suckers to emerge.
Common Pests and Diseases
Banana plants, whether grown indoors or on a plantation, may be bothered by a number of pests and pathogens. Nematodes are often a major problem and are best controlled with nematicides, repeated plowing and sun exposure or crop rotation. Additionally, corms should be disinfected in hot water solutions before planting. Other banana pests include the black weevil and various species of thrips and mites. Several fungi, bacteria and viruses can attack banana plants, causing the development of symptoms that range from leaf spots or streaks to rotting fruit or roots.
Everyone is aware of the goodness of banana. It is not only tasty, but also has several health benefits. Ripe banana is consumed as a fruit, whereas the green or the raw ones are used as vegetables. Known as kaccha kela, this vegetable contributes significantly to several delicious recipes in the world of culinary. From making koftas out of raw banana to the famous banana chips – kaccha kela has several uses.
Like the ripe ones, the green bananas are rich in fibre too that helps in digestion and promote heart health, leading to weight loss. It is also a good source of resistance starch, which may help keep cholesterol in check. Since raw bananas have low sugar content, these are a great option for diabetics. They are also low on glycaemic content and help combat risks of diabetes and keeping blood sugar in control.
Also known as kele ka phool, banana flower is used in some Asian cuisines. The flower can be eaten both raw and cooked – in form of salad, soup or sabzi. The flowers are starchy and bitter in the first half, but once soaked in lemon juice, the taste changes. It is rich in vitamin c, beta-carotene, protein, fibre, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium, and more. Banana flower, or banana blossom, is a traditional remedy for menstrual cramps.
Rich in fibre, banana stems are edible and tasty. Banana stem combines the goodness of potassium and vitamin B6, helping to combat cholesterol and high blood pressure. It’s favoured in Ayurvedic diets for its detoxification properties and is also one of the best known diuretics. It’s been known to prevent and treat kidney stones. Banana stem is called Vazha Thandu in Tamil, Baledindina in Kannada, Vazhapindi or Unni Thandu in Malayalam, Arati Doota Telugu and thor in Bengali. From fry to sabzi, banana stem contributes to several dishes in Indian cuisine.
One of the oldest forms of plates in India is banana leaf. Some people in eastern and southern part of India sill eat their food on banana leaves. Onam Sadhya the delicacies during Onam is an example for the same, where the food is consumed on a banana leaf.
But eating on banana leaves is not just a tradition. It has several health benefits too. Not only they are economical and hygienic, but also banana leaves contain large amounts of polyphenols, which are natural antioxidants. Banana leaves are also used for cooking several dishes, specially grilled and baked fish.
Banana leaves are commonly used as plants, for wrapping food and as an eye-shade or for protection from rain. The banana pseudostem can be utilized for its fiber. The pulp can be used to manufacture rope, paper, place mats and other goods, but the pseudostem is often most valuable economically if it is chopped and left in a field for its organic matter content.
All parts of the banana have medicinal value. For example, flowers can be cooked and eaten by diabetics or used for bronchitis, dysentery and ulcers. Plant sap can be taken internally or applied externally to stings and bites. The young leaves can be used as a poultice for skin irritations. The roots, ashes of peels and leaves and seed mucilage also serve medicinal purposes in some regions and cultures.
That’s how versatile a banana plant is! It not only offers versatility but also an opportunity to explore and experiment with your culinary skills.