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Banana (Musa) Fruits of Kerala, India

March 24th, 2007 | admin

Banana perhaps will be the most common fruit in the entire world. In some parts of the world, banana is called plantain. The soft and sweet fruit of this tropical plant (not tree) in enjoyed by people from around the world. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of variety of banana found growing in different parts of the world. In Kerala, there are about 50 cultivars of Banana.

Here is a list of few cultivars of banana in Kerala. All names in Malayalam.

Palayam kodan – this is the most widely cultivated variety of banana in Kerala, very soft when fully ripe. It has a cooling effect on places of very hot and humid conditions.

Annaan – there are different cultivars under this name, each type offering a distinct flavor.

Ethan or nenthran (nenthra vazha) – fruits commonly find uses in variety of culinary preparations. Banana chips, banana fritters (locally called vazhakka appam or pazham pori), etc are prepared from this cultivar of banana. The fruit is a bit harder than many other varieties of bananas.

Morris or Robusta – the banana that retains its green color even after ripening, it comes from a dwarf variety of banana plants, cultivated throughout Kerala.

Poovan – this banana fruit variety is fairly larger in size than annaan, palayam kodan etc, is bright glossy yellow in appearance. Prices are high for this variety.

Kappa vazha (red banana) – is characterized by its red skin. fairly large sized fruit turns its color from deep brown to dark red as it ripens. The edible part is very soft.

 Monthan – unlike all the above mentioned varieties, this is mostly a vegetable variety and rarely eaten raw. Complete ripening is not generally allowed.

Many varieties of banana plants in Kerala have been imported from countries like Brazil, African countries, USA, Australia, etc. The Agricultural University of Kerala too has developed new cultivars of bananas combining traces of different variety.

Banana fruits are rich in different minerals and components like vitamin A, B6, C and Potassium.

Banana leaves are used as natural plates in Kerala and is an important part of Kerala culture. People eat special Onam feast (the national festival of Kerala is most important to its people). The leaves are spread on floor, over which cooked rice and all the delicacies are served.

The core stem of the plant, called vazhappindi (vazha pindi) is used to prepare a side dish called thoran, which is recommended for persons with diabetes. The preparation is very tasty too. Similarly vazha koombu (vazhakkoombu, vazha kumbu, vazhakkumbu also called vazhachundu or vazha chundu), the flower or cone of plantain plants is also used as a nicely tasting vegetable. The cone is collected after the flower ceases to produce new fruits.

All variety uses of banana and plant parts are beneficial for stomach and use of them is part of Ayurveda lifestyle prevailing in Kerala and India.

Musa belongs to the family Musaceae.

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