Paruppu Usili and Morkuzhambu

When Cynthia asked “What are some of the foods/dishes you prepare today the same way you liked them while growing up?”, I would say all of my mom’s classic recipes. Particularly paruppu usili and mor kuzhambu. Usili is a time consuming dish and was always prepared for a special Sunday lunch. But there are some recipes that are worth the extra time and effort to recreate our childhood memory. And this classic combo is one of 'em.

Vazhaippoo Paruppu Usili – Banana Flower and Dal Sauté

Banana flower is the classic ingredient used in a usili. Though the dish is time consuming, if prepared in stages, as given below, it can be put together in no time. This is my entry for JFI – Banana, hosted by Mandira of Ahaar. JFI is the brainchild of Indira.


Banana Flower – 1, prepared as instructed below
Toor dal – ½ cup
Chana dal – ½ cup
Dried red chillies – 6
Turmeric powder – ½ + ½ tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – few


Banana Flower

Banana flowers are made of layers of bracts which enclose tiny rows of florets. Remove the outer 2 or 3 tough outer layers exposing the florets. Remove the florets, keep aside. Proceed removing each layer, pulling flowers, until you reach the core. The core, which is slightly bitter, can be eaten raw, or chopped finely and added to the recipe.

In a big bowl, mix ¼ cup of buttermilk with enough water to immerse the chopped banana florets. Take each banana floret and remove the stamen, which is woodsy and has a black tip. The stamens of florets in the inner layers are not developed much and are difficult to remove. Leave them be. Chop the florets prepared thusly and add to the bowl with buttermilk water. This will stop the discolouration of the florets and reduce the bitterness. The flower can be prepared to this stage up to 4 days in advance.

Soak toor and chana dal for an hour. Drain water completely and grind to a coarse mixture along with red chillies, asafoetida, turmeric and salt. Steam this coarse mix for about 10 minutes in a pressure cooker. This can be done using idli plates or a wide vessel. Just remember to oil the plates. When they are done, crumble them by hand. This lentil mixture can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months.

Drain the chopped banana flower, cook with salt, turmeric powder and ¼ cup of water. Cook until they are just tender and not mushy. Other vegetables that can be used in place of banana flower are green beans, cluster beans, gherkins (tindora), carrot etc. Mix the cooked vegetable with dal mixture.

In a wok, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds. Add curry leaves and vegetable + dal mix. Sauté until moisture leaves. Serve with rice and mor kuzhambu, with a tsp of sesame oil.

Mor Kuzhambu - Spiced Yogurt

This yogurt based creamy gravy goes perfectly well with the dry, lentil based usili. Use sour buttermilk to get the desired tangy taste. If the buttermilk is not tangy, mix in 2 tbsp of sour cream. Other vegetables that can be used are carrot, drumstick, chow chow (chayote squash) etc. Vegetables like eggplant, okra should be pan-fried and added to the kuzhambu.


Thick buttermilk – 3 cups
White pumpkin – 1 cup, cubed
Grated coconut – 2 tbsps
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Green chillies – 2 or 3
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Raw rice – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Curry leaves - few
Carom seeds/Ajwain/Omam or Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Coconut oil - 2 tsp


Soak chana dal and rice for 10 minutes. Grind the soaked dal with green chillies, ginger and coconut to a fine paste. Mix this with buttermilk, carom seeds and salt. Cook white pumpkin with salt and add to the buttermilk gravy.

Put this on a low flame and heat through, taking care not to let it boil. Heat coconut oil, and splutter mustard seeds and toast curry leaves. Add to the kuzhambu and serve.

Paruppu Usili and Mor Kuzhambu

I like to mix usili with rice with a tsp of sesame oil and mor kuzhambu on the side, while G likes to mix kuzhambu with rice and usili on side. It is darn tasty eaten either way.


Raaga said...

I love vazhaippoo paruppu usli... Suganya... you're making me want to go home now.

musical said...

Beautiful! Where did you get the banana flowers from?

amna said...

yummy! i love vazhaipoo thoran that mom makes. preparing the vazhaipoo is such a tedious task though. i remember getting my hands dirty when i was a kid..

Anonymous said...

and i was just hoping that somebody would send this. paruppu usili is my favorite way of making beans :D - yummy. i made vazhaipoo usili almost 3 weeks back - will definitely get some from the market soon :)

while i dont find making "anything" usili that time consuming, i almost doze off by the time i renmove the stamen from the vazhaipoo :D

never steamed dal though (saute it in a kadai, love the brown flakes) - will try this method sometime.

Latha Narasimhan said...

lovely combo suganya!:)) The vazhapoo is looking gogeous!:))

Anonymous said...

thank you for the detailed instruction on how to cook banana flowers. the usili looks delicious! just looking at the photos makes my mouth water!:)beautiful photos.

Apple said...

Awesome picture Suganya...Paruppu Usili looks inviting

Susan said...

OMG! Suganya, I'm speechless (me?)! Banana flowers, sesame oil, white pumpkin...I can't even imagine what this tastes like (sigh).

FH said...

How beautiful.NEVER tasted the Banana flower before. Great combo with Morkuzhambu.YUM!!

Padma said...

Suganya, I had a disaster trying that banana flower during my first year in US, I made stir fry with coconut but it was so bitter that it went straight to my bin. After seeing your recipe I came to know where I did the mistake. I kept the stamen intact :) silly me!

Now looking at ur Usili is giving me confidence enough to try this time. Thanks for such great recipe

Laavanya said...

This is one deadly combination. I make beans paruppu usli most of the time though to go with morkuzhambu... Lovely pics of the vazhaipoo

Sia said...

i am tired of telling hw gd ur pics are suganya:)
where did u get banana flowers from?

Shammi said...

Suganya - an absolute classic combo, mor kuzhambu with any usili! Yum! :) said...

Wish I could get Vazhaipoo here inn Ann Arbor.

My next meal plan is more kuzhambu and usili too!! I've got the chou chou all cut up in the fridge, along with the beans and the parupu ground up. I was so proud of myself to get all the 'prep' work done. Nice to see this on your blog, it certainly is a classic combination!!

Beautiful pictures as always Suganya. I'm sure you'll win the CLICK contest if you enter!!


Namratha said...

I always wondered what to make with Banana flowers, now I know! :) Will buy them on my next trip to the IFM

Bharathy said...

Morkuzhambu is our comfort food.I usually make it with paruppu thovaiyal...have never tried usili with vazhaipoo.
beautiful pics :)

Pooja V said...

I always wanted to try banana flower dish n i am glad to have found one. Thanks & gtg now ( I am rushing to the indian store NOW).

Kribha said...

Nice combo. I've never tried usili with vazhaipoo. Got to try it soon.

Ashwini said...

Loved the photos of the banana flower. I was going to cook with the flower too, not sure if I will make it (story of my life!)

Timepass said...

Paruppu Usli looks very yummy

KayKat said...

An all-time favorite! Love those plantains :)

Manjula said...

Nice colors of the Banana flower. I just love its texture and stringiness . Nice pics of a great recipe.

mb said...

love the picture... gorgeous. Great entry suganya, thank you :) -- Mandira

Suganya said...

Raaga, I made this few weeks back. When I was posting yesterday, I was very hungry myself. What a classic combo it is.

I get banana flowers from an Asian store, Musical. They have most of the times. Its only getting there is a pain. Have to drive for 40 miles.

Oh yes Nags. I remember that too. It is not as tedious when you do it as a team. So my mom always asked me to give her a helping hand. Now I have G :).

Lakshmi, I know what you mean ;). I watch TV or a movie while I do this. So I don't doze off. But the part I find difficult is when it comes to the inner layers where stamens are not well-matured, but still you have to find 'em. Steaming dal is to make sure it doesn't taste raw and it takes less oil if you have saute and cook it. That doesn't mean I don't saute much. Love the caramelised bits of dal.

Thank you Maami.

Paati, I am so honoured to have you here. I guess I have done it right to get a compliment from you. Thanks for visiting.

Thanks Apple.

Susan.... You ... speechless... C'mon. If you ever visit my place I will definitely make this for you. You have to taste it to believe it.

Asha, Its a taste that I cannot describe. You will be surprised bananas come out of it :). Just remember to soak them in buttermilk or cook them with some curd or tamarind. This way they won't taste bitter.

Its not just the stamen Padma, you should use either curd or yoghurt with banana flowers. Try this next time. You will be rewarded for yr effort :)

You said it, Laavanya. Deadly combination.

Am not tired of hearing 'em Sia :).I get banana flowers from Asian store.

Shyamala, I know you will be able to appreciate this combo. Killer, right?

Thank you for those kind words Kanchana. Am flattered. Am just waiting for an inspiration to strike my mind. How creative can you get with eggs...And I have seen usili and mor kuzhambu blogged by so many others. But I wanted to present them as a combo to reinvent the magic ;)

Namratha, If you visit Mallu blogs, you will find lot of recipes for thoran as well. But if you are first timer, you will love how the dal compliments the flower.

Thogayal is a quick alternative Bharathy, needless to say tasty too :). I make it on weekdays. Try this combo once, you know what I am raving about ;)

Good luck Pooja. Indian store near my house never carries banana flower :(

Is that right, Kribha? They are meant to be. Try it :)

Oooohh Ashwini, Its sad that you are so busy. Even if you don't make it to the event, treat us with yr special recipes and gorgeous photos. I really miss them. Your blog is one of my inspirations to start my own. :)

Thank Timepass.

Kaykat, Its banana flowers :D. You already see plantains in 'em?

I see you are a banana flower lover. Me too :)

Suganya said...

I wanted to take part in the event, Mandira. Am glad that I didn't miss the train :). Thanks for accepting my last minute entry. See ya at the round-up!

Priya said...

I bought a vazhaipoo about a month back and have not found the time to peel it :(( I know, its rather shocking to still have it in the fridge !!

TBC said...

That sounds good. I have used banana flower once for making a thoran, but I used the canned one 'cos I don't get the fresh thing. It was such a mess and I was very disappointed with the outcome.
Loved your first set of pics.

Rajitha said...

sug..i love is healthy too with lots of protein...i usually hunt for the large paruppu clumps..which sometimes are present..yumm

Bong Mom said...

Wow you did the banna flowers stuff...great job

J said...

Banana flower is something I'm appreciating only now....earlier I used to run away from that! :)

Roopa said...

wow i am drolling at the pictures:)

sra said...

This has got to be the most beautiful pictorial I've seen on banana flower. have never had a dish with it that I liked, and the vadas drown the taste of this.

Suma Gandlur said...

I remember vaguely my grand mother preparing dishes with banana flowers. I had no idea that it was a tedious task using them. thanks for the pictorial instructions.
Morkuzhambu or majjiga pulusu is my all time favorite dish too.

remya said...

Looks yummy!!! i love vazhapoo thoran ,vada ...i havent tried making myself coz of the difficult task...nice pics n lovely combo

Sharmi said...

I had made this lovely recipe once and forgot to soak them in buttermilk. that was a big blunder. I had to throw it all off. thanks for the step wise and detailed recipe. will try again in future.

Unknown said...

Lovely though I've never eaten banana flowers.

Prajusha said...

vazhappoo thoran looks delicious.wonderful pic.Great entry for JFI

Cynthia said...

I am constantly amazed (in a good way) at the edible things I see on blogs... tonight and sometime back, I read about eating the plantain peel now you tell and teach me how to use the banana flower... awesome.

Grihini said...

Hmm.. reminds me of mom. When we were young, mom used to make this one ; palya with banana flowers.

I dont get them at my place here, can you parcel some? :)

Sivani said...

Oh my goodness!
This is one of the things I like so much about food blogging: someone leaves a nice comment on your blog (thanks for the TWO nice comments, Suganya), you click their link and you discover an amazing site.

Now that I have seen your pictures, I just want to slink away, hide my camera and wish that I was as good as you.

This is a phenomenal site!

- Sivani

PS: Yes, I have submitted to Food Blog Desam and Mahanandi's list both, but I am still waiting to be added. I guess these things take time.

MR said...

very nice paruppu usili!
never tried this before.
Thanks for the recipe

Anonymous said...

Hi Suganya, I tried making a banana flower dish once - I should have another go. Photos of the deconstructed flower are lovely! Mor kuzhambu sounds yummy too :)

ServesYouRight said...

Gorgrous gorgeous recipe and picture. Have always been fascinated and intimidated by banana flowers.

Jaya M said...

How lovely it looks , with such neat pics of the stamen and flowers...
The cooked flowers are great with dals also..
will include this link to my post also ...
hugs and smiles

Spook, RN said...

More Kozhumbu with parupu usili... and a side of Mochai rasam! Ahhh! My mouth is watering just at the thought of it!

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