If lockdown taught us anything it’s that we need to be more imaginative with bananas. Whilst the joys of banana bread, instant banana ice cream and 2-ingredient banana pancakes (yes, I know you’ll have tried them all) are beyond reproach, when will we learn to appreciate a cooked banana that is not mushed?
There are several ways to treat the banana with the respect it deserves – one of my favourite dishes is Bananas Foster, a sticky dessert of bananas in a flambéed rum butter sauce. Or how about coating bananas with caramel and then topping them with puff pastry for an unusual take on a tarte tatin? You don’t need to turn a banana into baby food, in fact, it really can be the star of the show.
Indeed, it can be the central ingredient of a creamy Southeast Asian-inspired curry. You may think I have lost my mind, but trust me, this works. Bananas are used across many parts of Asia to give a welcome sweet note to otherwise ferociously hot dishes. This curry harmoniously balances all the major flavour profiles – there is the sweetness of banana and coconut, the heat of chilli and garam masala, and the sourness of tamarind. It is this last ingredient that is key; tamarind provides a deep stringency to a dish that without it may taste like a curried pina colada. You can buy blocks of tamarind and soak them yourself but let’s be honest, who has time for that? The easiest way to get the tang you desire is from a jar of tamarind paste, easy to find in most supermarkets now.
1 tbsp oil (olive/vegetable/sunflower)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp tamarind paste
A handful of cashew nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan
200ml coconut milk
3 large bananas, peeled and thickly sliced
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion for a couple of minutes until translucent.
Add the garam masala, curry powder, grated ginger and red chilli to the onion. Stir together and cook for a couple of minutes so the spices can let out all their aromatic flavours.
Next, add the chopped banana to the spiced onions. Cook for a couple of minutes before pouring in the coconut milk. Dollop in the tamarind, give it a stir, and then simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Finally, add the toasted cashews and blanket with chopped coriander. Perfect served with jasmine rice!