Common Banana Types Available in Kerala
Different Types of Banana Available in Kerala
Banana’s are deeply linked with the traditional culture of Kerala. Different banana varieties play a significant role in the daily life of the people in this South Indian state. In Malayalam language, banana plant is called by ‘Vaazha’ and the banana fruit is termed as ‘Vaazha pazham’. Different varieties of bananas in terms of colour, size and taste are available in the market.
Some of the names of these popular banana types in the Malayalam language are Ethapazham or Nendra Pazham, Palayam kodan, Annaan, Morris or Robusta, Poovan, Jnali Poovan, Kappa vazha (red banana), Monthan etc. Apart from these common types, some of the other varieties are Sahasrapadali, Ayiram poovan, Kumpillaannan, Malayannan, Thottannan, Kadali, Kaliyethan, Chengali, Aattunenthran, Pachakkappa, Matti, Padatti, Peyan etc.
The colours are yellow, purple and red. Ripe bananas have delicious sweet flavour and can be consumed as a fruit, whereas the unripe raw ones are traditionally used for cooking.
Culinary Uses of Banana Plant
The inner stem of a banana plant or ‘Vazha pindi’ is known for its nutritive value. The banana stem is thick and fibrous and has the taste of banana. It adds bulk to the food and is very useful for all those who wish to lose weight.
The fibre content in banana stem helps to cure constipation and detoxify the body. Once the plant has given its fruit, the white coloured inner stem can be consumed in different forms as soups, salads, stir fries etc.
Similarly, the flower known as ‘Vazha Chundu’ is also used for making delicious dishes. A traditional practice where the banana leaves are used as plates or disposable food containers are also popular among South Indians. The high fibre content of bananas makes it an excellent digestive aid which facilitates easy bowel movement.
Numerous studies in different parts of the world have revealed that the consumption of bananas would play a significant role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma in women. This writing would take you through some of the common banana varieties commonly seen in these parts of the world.
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Ethapazham or Nendra Pazham
Ethapazham or Nendra pazham is the lengthiest and biggest banana variety commonly available across the state. Apart from other banana species, these can be consumed to gain weight.
This vegetable-banana can be eaten and tastes different at every stage of development. The interior colour of the fruit will remain creamy, yellowish or lightly pink. When the peel is green, the flavour of the flesh is bland and its texture is starchy. As the peel changes to yellow, brown or black, it has a sweeter flavour and more of a banana aroma, but still keeps a firm shape when cooked.
Several dishes like Olan, Avial, Erisseri etc make use of this banana in raw form as the main ingredient. Powdered raw bananas are also one of a common food for infants and kids below 1-year-old. Unripe bananas or plantains are used for making banana chips and Sharkara Upperi. Cleaned banana pieces are finely sliced to circular shaped pieces and it’s then deep fried in coconut oil to form Kaya varuthathu or banana chips.
Ripened bananas are traditionally used in making some of the delicious snacks like Pazham pori (Vaazhakka Appam), Vaazhakka roast and Unnakai. Boiled or steamed ripe bananas are also served as a breakfast dish or evening snack.
Palayam kodan is one of a sweet banana variety readily available across Kerala. Climatic condition in these parts of the world favours its large-scale cultivation and as a result, it is the cheapest of all the small bananas.
Sweet and delicious ripe Palayam kodan bananas are extensively used with several breakfast dishes like Puttu or steam cakes, Upma etc. It forms an excellent combo with various payasam dishes and is served along with the traditional Kerala Sadya. These soft ripe bananas are known for its natural cooling effect and hence, it is mostly consumed during the summer season.
Morris or Robusta
Robusta banana grows on a semi – tall plant which falls under the high yielding category and produces bunch of large sized well-developed fruits. Dark green fruits turn bright yellow upon ripening depending on ripening conditions. Fruit is very sweet with a good aroma.
Bunch weighs about 25-30 kg. Requires propping. Fruit has a poor keeping quality leading to a quick breakdown of pulp after ripening, hence not suited for long distance transportation. Sweet and delicious ripe bananas are extensively used with several breakfast dishes like Puttu or steam cakes, Upma etc.
Poovan is a small banana variety traditionally cultivated across Kerala. In its raw state, it has a green colour and is thickly clustered in a bunch. Medium sized bunch, closely packed fruits, good keeping quality and resistant to fruit cracking is its plus points.
Upon ripening it attains yellow colour and is considered to be one of the sweetest variety popular across the people. Over-ripening changing it to black colour and tends to fall from the bunch. Fair share of commercial poovan cultivation is also used for leaf industry throughout Tamil Nadu and in some parts of Kerala.
Chenkadali, Red Banana or Kappa Vazha
Chenkadali or Red banana is a famous variety with a reddish-purple skin. They are bigger when compared to Poovan variety and smaller than the Nendran or Plantain types.
Due to its unique colour, it is often called by different names like Chorakadali, Chorapoovan, Raktha Kadali, Kappa Vazhai, etc. Upon ripening, the fruit attains sweet taste with an orange-yellow colour and a pleasant aroma. They are best eaten in its soft and unbruised state. Contains more beta-carotene and vitamin C than the usual yellow bananas. Red bananas get ripe in a few days at room temperature, best suited for storage outside refrigeration.