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How to cook a Musa Pseudostem August 6, 2008

Posted by C Y Gopinath in Food, Humor.
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C Y Gopinath discovers how to cook the delicious dish that killed the tender coconut tree but completely re-colonized his gut.

Take a medium-sized banana. Chop the pseudostem finely and boil till tender. Spice it and eat while costive.

There, that’s how you do it. I’ve given the recipe away. You can amaze your friends too now by making Banana Tree Khich Khach at home. They’ll laugh at you, of course, and nudge each other and whisper into their respective ears, ‘Goodness, he or she doesn’t know which part of the tree is the edible one. Next thing, he or she will be serving us Coconut Trunk Quiche.”

Don’t be daunted by the mockery, because all that will happen is that God will make them costive, and that will be the end of them all. When I was little my mother took me aside one day in my grandfather’s huge sprawling rubber estate in Kerala and said, “See these trees, son. Some of these are rubber, but a lot of these are banana. And every growing boy needs to eat a banana tree now and then. It is excellent for the bowels. The rough fibres of the banana stem act like a powerful broom, cleaning out the folds and crevices of your perineum.”

My bowels nodded agreement, and that was how I first tried out Banana Tree Khich Khach, for want of a better name.

I fell in love with it , and wanted to eat it every day. I told my mother, “Mother, mother, this stuff is so good for my bowels that I want more and more of it. I don’t want no banana fritters, I don’t want no bananas, I don’t want no banana leaf, all I want is some of that ol’ Banana Tree Khich Khach.”

“Once a month is all you get,” she said sternly. “No one should eat it more than once a month, and less than once a month is asking for trouble. Besides, it is a lot of trouble to cook, and I don’t love it that much. Overbesides, your bowels aren’t that bad.”
You can get banana pseudostems in Matunga in Bombay or Karolbagh in Delhi. They look like pale white plastic plumbing pipes, shiny and smooth outside, and usually cut into one-foot segments. I dialled my mother in Chicago and asked her exactly how much a person should buy. She’s terrible with quantities, like all mothers, and she thought for a minute, while the dollars ticked by. Then she said, “About one-and- a-half talcum powder tins, to feed about five.” How perfect – a banana pseudostem does resemble a cylindrical talcum tin.

Buy the banana pseudostem carefully. Check for discolorations – there should be none – and ensure that it is tender and white. Cutting it is an art best mastered through a little practice. Oil your hands, because the pseudostem exudes a sticky pseudo-goo that soap cannot touch. Peel away about two layers of the outer skin, about a centimetres depth, to expose the tender white rind within. This is the part you will cook and eat.

Cut into discs about four millimetres thick and plop into water. My mother’s voice whispers that you should add about half a cup of sour buttermilk to that water, to prevent the stem from getting discolored.

Here’s how you cook the stuff:

Ingredients:
1.5 banana pseudostems, prepared as described and cut into discs
1 cup tuvar dal
A little ural dal
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon rice
3 or 4 red chillies
1/2 coconut, grated
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 tablespoon jeera or cummin seeds

Finely chop the banana pseudostem. Pay attention to the lengths of ‘string’ that unwind as you cut. They should be assiduously removed and discarded.

Pressure cook the banana pseudostem, with one cup tuvar dal, some turmeric and some salt.

Take a tablespoon of rice, three red chillies, and fry in oil till just before the rice begins to redden. Grind to a paste with 1/2 the grated coconut

Combine this paste with the boiled banana pseudostem, add a little water if the result feels too thick, and then let the Khich Khach come to a boil over a slow fire. The banana pseudostem absorbs the various subtleties in the coconut paste, and emerges dressed for a party.

Throw a half teaspoon of mustard seeds into hot oil. When it begins to pop, add a half teaspoon of urad dal. As the dal begins to turn a lovely golden color, add a few whole red chillies, just for a few moments, and then throw the whole thing over the dish as a garnish.

It is now time to answer the question that has been distracting you.

What, you are wondering, is the meaning of the word ‘costive’, mentioned so casually in the first paragraph. No, it is not another word for the price index, but simply means — oh, I couldn’t possibly. Go look it up, everyone has Google these days. If you’re too lazy for that, try eating a little Khich Khach.

Comments»

1. Anita - August 7, 2008

😀 I’ll be on the lookout for the pseudostem. Just might find it in the Lakshmi Nagar subzi market…

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Anita—

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

2. Aparna - August 7, 2008

We call this Banana Tree Kich Kach Vazhaithandu/ Vazhaipindi Mulagootal.
And its really great stuff, and I’m talking about the taste.:)
Ayurveda does its recognise the medicinal properties of the banana pseudostem.
If I may point this out, the jeera has to be ground along with the coconut.

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Aparna—

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

3. Kamini - August 8, 2008

Why “pseudo”stem? Who is masquerading as what here? And what about the actual stem – has it not mastered the art of pseudo-stemness, is it not fit for the noble duty of costive expulsion? Why has it surrendered to this pseudo impostor?
Kamini.

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Kamini—

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

4. Ramki - August 16, 2008

I’m thrilled to have discovered this blog with a sense of humour – way to go !

/Cheers
Ramki

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Ramki—

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

5. poornima - August 19, 2008

Such a good read your blog.Just stumbled upon it.I spend the whole day reading through your humorous write ups.Thanks ever so much.Now to test out the recipes!I am pretty sure they will be as good as your writing!!

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Purnima—

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

6. Lalita - August 20, 2008

such joy reading your food writing..!!! it is almost distracting, i can’t get any work done. anyway, wanted to tell you that my father makes an excellent vazhaitandu pachadi and i can share the recipe with you if you like (assuming he doesn’t hold anything back from me!)

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hi Lalita —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

Keep seeing your posts about Googlee Google — he looks like such a gem. And you seem like such a doting mother. Justifiably.

Anyway, this is to tell you that if you haven’t been to my new website yet, please do — http://www.cygopinath.com — please do. I’m been moving my food writing and other stuff there slowly. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Also, please sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

7. Reva - August 22, 2008

What fun to read your blog! I used to love reading your column in TOI years ago {in the days when TOI was readable :-)}. In fact my mom still has newspaper cuttings of some of your articles, the one on rasam for sure, and a couple more. Loved your book Travels with a Fish too, and very exciting to find you blogging here!!

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Reva—

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. I was going through old mail and came upon yours.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

8. Purnima Menon - September 21, 2008

Sir,
First time here, you have a lovely style of writing! Well I didnt know the English name for what we usually address as humble ‘Gabbo’ in Konkani! We prepare upperi from it. SImple wt tadka of rai, red chillies.

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Purnima —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

9. pinky mistry - October 3, 2008

Hi C.Y.
You mentioned how your son (when he was a year old) started calling out to the moon in the middle of the afternoon at a Bangkok or Thailand bazaar. You & Shilpa were non-plussed and took you some time to figure out which fruit he meant. This morning my 2 year old moppet held out a banan for hubby to eat, commanding him with a very endearing “Daddy, take moon.” Do kids think alike? I mean are all kids equally moony (read as: when will we parents get it right: Moon is the squishy mass you can peel & eat & have in a sundae & the banana is up there in the sky, shining with the stars!) Your explanation (back then in 1999) was, kids are creative, when they grow up, they join advertising!

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Pinky —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015. Was re-reading my old mail and came upon yours. Brought back memories — the son who called out to the moon in the middle of the afternoon graduated from school two weeks ago! And he’s 6’1″ tall.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Anyway, I hope you’ll come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

10. Aparna Krishnan - November 2, 2008

My memories are still tangled with unruly fibres that oozed out the sides of the cutting knife, while my grandmother relentlessly cut these “pseudostems” all the way through to our stomachs. Sinfully tasty with rasam, you have definitely brought out those many musa moments in my life to the surface, yet again with a very funny write-up. Thanks! 🙂

Aparna (I see a previous comment from an “Aparna”. No, I am not “that one” – yes, “that one”s have become increasingly popular these days)

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Aparna —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2008 letter in 2015.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

11. Mike - March 1, 2009

Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

_________________________________
Making Money $150 An Hour

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Mike —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2009 letter in 2015.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back — lots of my food writing is there, and I’m seriously dreaming up new ones now. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

12. pelicano - March 28, 2009

This one is divine- enjoyed every minute!

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2009 letter in 2015.

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

13. Ramya - December 27, 2009

Main Entry: cos·tive
Pronunciation: \ˈkäs-tiv, ˈkȯs-\
Function: adjective
1 : affected with constipation
2 : causing constipation
—cos·tive·ness noun

Ha ha HA

14. WorldMusicFans - November 17, 2010

Ou, it’s good ))

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2010 letter in 2015. Thank you for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed it.

You must be wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi

15. sangeeta - December 14, 2010

I was introduced to this pseudo stem by my bong friends n it’s called Tthor in bengali . I learnt to chop it n cook it and found that it can be cooked in any flavor , even in north indian style curries …just a bit if sensible handling is required.

loved your writing Sir …

C Y Gopinath - June 9, 2015

Hello Sangeeta —

I can’t believe I’m replying to a 2011 letter in 2015. Thank you for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed it.

You must be wondering where my blog has disappeared to. It is true, the blog has unfortunately been inactive for some time. A part of the reason is that I had shifted everything to a new WordPress site. Though it is still under construction, it is ready for viewing.

Please do come back. You can access it at http://www.cygopinath.com — and sign on when you get the subscription form. I will make sure you get a notification whenever I post a new blog.

Cheers!

Gopi


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