Not very sure of my spellings, but its called vazhapoo in tamil, mochar in bengali , kele ka phool in hindi and hua plee in thai.
Many years later, when we tried a thai salad called yum hua plee, we were amazed at the lovely crunchy texture and I knew I had to make it atleast once. I was delighted when I found out that this salad literally takes minutes to put together, as preparing it is almost as easy as slicing onions, without the tears!
This little salad, in its various avatars is extremely popular throughout SE Asia, but the ones that we make most often are a spunky Thai style and a milder Filipino rendition, which I have learnt from Jocelyn, our Filipino helper.
The generic name for Thai salads is yum, and yummy they are! Most Thai salads are a delicate balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy , and this one is no different. What makes this one unusual though, is the texture and the slightly astringent taste of the banana blossom, which many find similar to artichokes ! To make it vegetarian, I have substituted tofu for the chicken that is typically added, but you can just as well add paneer, or even make it with only banana blossom.
For this recipe, we do not need the baby buds, or the florets, which contain the bitter stamen, and therefore prepping it is really easy. Simply pluck away the tough, purple coloured outer leaves till or bracts until the inner, paler portion is revealed. Cut it lengthwise into two, and slice thinly. While you prepare the other ingredienyts, soak it in water to which some lime juice/ white vinegar has been added to eliminate any bitterness and prevent discolouration. Drain when ready to use. The florets can be used to make delicious paruppu usli , with some excellent step by step instrunctions by Suganya.
Update: Since some of us are not quite sure of what part to use, I have added a link to prema's excellent post on preparing banana bud. We slice the white bud in the picture, which she has used whole. Thank you Prema for an excellent recipe!
1 banana blossom, prepared as above
½ firm, small tomato, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped
½ cup baked/fried tofu/paneer (optional)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp light soy sauce/ salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp chilli paste
cilantro, spring onions and fried shallots