Preparing banana blossoms is a little fiddly, but well worth it, as this dish tastes fantastic. I have given two versions here, a wet curry style (kehel muwa vanjanaya) and a dry, fried style (kehel muwa malum); each is absolutely delicious. This recipe is from Vajira Sugathapala, Dilmah’s general sales manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives by day, and one hell of a cook at night.
Remove the outer set of leaves from the banana blossom. Chop the tip of the flower off, but keep the stalk on, as a handle. Carefully slice towards the stalk at least four times, cutting a cross-section of the flower, but don’t detach it from the stalk. Now cut the blossom very finely across the cuts you have made, so you end up with very small pieces of the blossom. Add them to the bowl of salted water and wash vigorously, to remove the sticky sap and any bitterness. Drain and set aside.
Combine the onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar and turmeric in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the roasted chilli powder (from the extras list), mixing well. Add the banana blossom pieces, mixing well, and leave to marinate for 5 minutes.
Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan until smoking. Add the banana blossom mixture and cook over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Stir in the coconut milk and gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the coconut cream and stir for 1 minute. Season with salt if needed and serve with rice, or some wet and dry dishes such as the Fried potato curry, Stir-fried Bangladeshi spinach and Pennywort salad.
Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy-based saucepan and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds. Add the drained banana blossom and cook for 3–4 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Deep-fry the onion for 3–4 minutes, until golden, then drain on paper towel.
Add the banana blossom and onion to a heavy-based saucepan. Stir in the garlic, ginger, vinegar, turmeric and coconut milk, and the dried chilli and roasted curry powder (from the extras list). Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, season with salt if necessary and serve with rice, Coconut sambal, and a wet curry like the Ridged gourd curry.
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