Banana is a common fruit here. There are so many types of bananas, I am still learning their names. Some common ones are Cavendish, apple banana, baby banana, emas (gold), awak, berangan and red banana. I remember that when I was a kid, we will never never tell others that we love eating bananas, otherwise there will be jokes, teases and nicknames about monkeys and you. As an adult, I will also say "I love to eat bananas" with extreme care and caution and also depending on who I say it to. Otherwise, there will be much red faces and embarassment!
According to an english dictionary, the idiom "going bananas" means you are wild with excitement, anxiety or worry. So, now lets go bananas over our bananas.
The banana plant is native to South East Asia. This plant is found in abundance here, especially in villages and suburbs. It is grown at homes, gardens and in plantations. It also grows wild. They seem to love our weather.
Besides being an instant umbrella during a rainy day, banana leaves has many uses , e.g. in banana leaf rice, in kuih and deserts, fried noodles (char koay teaw), nasi lemak. Here the leaf is used as a base, not cooked into the dish.
Banana trunks can be chopped into small pieces and fed to ducklings. Banana trunks or the whole banana plant are used in Hindu celebrations like prayers, special occasions, weddings, etc. My indian friends tell me that the banana plant symbolises fertility, abundance and continuity of the future generations. I can see why considering the fact that banana plant bears fruits in bunches, each bunch having combs of bananas, arranged in multiple tiers. Moreover new plants, i.e. the suckers do sprout easily from the ground.
This is a lemang stall. Lemang is a Malay delicacy found especially during Hari Raya season. It is made of glutinuos rice and coconut milk baked in bamboo tubes over a charcoal or wood fire. Young banana leaves are used to line the bamboo before the rice and santan mixture is poured in.
Here's a dish with lemang wrapped in banana leaves. Lemang goes hand-in-hand with rendang, a traditional dish of meat cooked with coconut, coconut milk (santan), ginger, peppers and spices. I really love eating lemang with rendang and no Hari Raya or Aidil Adha passes by without me eating it. When I was pregnant with my first child, I developed a craving for lemang! It was during the off-season, so can you imagine my hubby's utter torture whenever he comes home from work without the lemang?
This is a simple dish of traditional nasi lemak. It is rice cooked in coconut milk and eaten with anchovies and onion sambal. The most tasty nasi lemak is eaten when it is served on a banana leaf. Have you tried nasi lemak or the Indian stlyed 'banana leaf rice' before?
Now the banana fruit. Here it can be used to make deserts, cakes or added to pancakes. Ooh, I love banana split ice-cream. For snacks, there is banana chips and our famous fried banana or pisang goreng where the banana is dipped in batter and deep fried. It goes well with coffee or tea.
Banana flowers are also used in malay and indian cooking.
Now, can you see how we love bananas?
This is a picture of the Thai gold musa sp taken from The Secret Garden of 1-Utama. This is an ornamental banana plant suited for small areas and containers.
This lovely pink banana flower picture is taken at Floria 2009. Usually the common banana plant bears dark red banana flowers. There is also a Malay saying, "Pisang takkan berbuah dua kali," meaning that the same banana plant will never bear fruits twice.
Have you heard this kid-song before? I learnt it at elementary school.
Yellow bird,Up high in a banana tree,
You sit all alone like me
Did your lady friend,
Leave the nest again?
That is very sad,
Make me feel so bad,
You can fly away,
In the sky away,
You're more lucky than me ........
All my life, I've been looking for the yellow bird because I have never seen a yellow bird on a banana plant before. Or, am I going bananas???
P/S: For recipes, please visit Kuali, a reliable publication from our national newspaper The Star. Just do a search of the recipe you want e.g. type the word 'banana' or 'rendang'. I like the author, Amy Beh's recipes very much. For lemang, there are not many that I can find, but you can try here. I hope this helps. Actually, besides referring to cookbooks, I am an internet 'trainee cook'. I learnt to roast a chicken, bake cheese cake, make garlic bread and Japanese sushi from the internet, just by watching their videos.