Yes. Banana Peels.
I love minimizing waste and stretching my food budget. I've already explored watermelon rinds and orange peels. And I do keep trash in my freezer. It was only natural for me to ask, as I tossed a banana peel last week, "What could I do with this?"
It turns out that you can use banana peels for many things, from protecting your roses, to making tea, to polishing your shoes, to treating skin irritations. But best of all, they are nutritious. I will try my hand at the tea soon. But what really intrigued me was a handful of recipes primarily from India and Southeast Asia for seasoned banana peels cooked and served over rice.
Unfortunately, I don't have access to many of the herbs and spices called for in these recipes, so I looked at several to get the gist of what kind of food these cooks were making and deduce a base recipe. Then I went off to the kitchen and improvised. Here's what I did:
1T butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 mushrooms, minced
4 banana peels, washed, stem and end cut off, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 eggplant, cubed (optional)
1T curry powder
1/4c cream or coconut milk
2 tsp tamarind paste (optional)
Fresh chopped cilantro (garnish)
- Heat butter or oil in a large, lidded pan, and saute the onion, garlic, and mushrooms until the onion is translucent, but not browned.
- Add chopped banana peels and eggplant (if using). Cover, and cook for a few minutes until tender. There is enough water in the banana peel, that you will not need to add any.
- Stir in curry powder and cream, making sure that everything is coated. Add a little water if it seems dry. Heat through.
- Dissolve the tamarind paste in the cream, if using.
- Serve hot, over rice, and top with fresh cilantro.
- If you are using banana peels saved from earlier in the day, prep them when they are fresh off the fruit, and keep them in a bowl of water to prevent them from turning brown or drying out. Then use the water to cook the rice.
- If you are not using tamarind paste (which can be purchased from Mexican, Asian, and Indian grocers, among others), you can simply skip that step, or you can add in about a teaspoon each of lime juice and brown sugar. Tamarind paste tastes almost like a slightly sour, smokey barbecue sauce.
- If you want to use neither cream nor coconut milk, you can make a white sauce. I imagine this would taste good with soy or almond milk (low sugar kinds!), but soy milk can do strange things while cooking, so you may need to experiment.
- The texture of cooked banana peel is similar to eggplant, which is why I tossed in the half eggplant I had languishing in the fridge.
- For added flavor and texture, add a chopped pepper (bell or pasilla). To make it a more Thai-style curry, chopped ginger and bamboo shoots would make nice additions