Banana flower pulav (with ajara ghansal rice)

This morning when I was walking around in the backyard I saw this gorgeous  banana flower (வாழைப்பூ) that I had been monitoring for some time, just ready for picking.  Immediately my lunch menu changed to include banana flower. I was not in the mood for paruppu usili or koottu. So I decided to make something different. I had recently got some ajara ghansal rice and so decided to try this rice out and make a banana flower pulav. 

The Bengalis make a dish called Mochar Ghonto and I took inspiration from this recipe and tweaked it a little. The ghansal rice is a variety grown in Ajara located in the southern part of Kolhapur district in Maharashtra, India. It is a small grained rice and is known for its nutrition, health benefits, taste and distinctive aroma. Being a rice from Maharashtra I decided to use goda masala which is a traditional Maharashtrian masala.

Ingredients
Banana flower – 1
Ajara ghansal rice – 1 cup 
Onion, sliced – 1 
Ginger, grated – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Grated dried coconut – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – 15
Oil – 2 tbsp
Bay leaves – 2
Star anise – 1
Cloves – 6
Cinnamon – 1 inch long piece
Large cardamom – 2 
Goda masala – 1-2 tbsp (to taste)
Salt – to taste

 

Remove banana florets from under each banana flower petal and from each individual floret take out the stigma and style (shown in picture) which is the hard part of the floret that won’t cook. Put the cleaned florets in heavily diluted buttermilk so that they don’t brown. Set aside. 

cleaned florets in buttermilk (left) and stems to be discarded (right)

Wash the rice. In a kadai add a tbsp of oil and add the bay leaves, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. When they splutter add the rice and fry well till the rice changes colour. Add salt and 2 cups of water and cook in the pressure cooker for about 10 whistles. 

In another kadai put the rest of the oil and the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds pop, add the ginger and onions and fry till well caramelised. Remove from the oil and set aside. In same oil add the banana florets, curry leaves and salt. Cover and allow to cook well. When done and completely dry remove from stove. 

After the rice is done, remove all the pulav spices from it and add to the cooked banana florets. Add the fried onions and goda masala and mix gently. The combination of the aromatic rice, banana florets and goda masala make this a really flavoursome rice that pairs very well with just plain yogurt. Serves 3. 

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