Tuesday, 6 March 2012




Banana pith, which is available in abundance wherever Nendran banana bunches are harvested, can be a super-healthy ingredient for many wholesome recipes. First of all, you need to make sure whether the banana pith at your disposal is of the right type. Cut off a bit and bite it. If the juice is bitter, it is better to throw it away. Piths of Robusta variants, Mannan and certain Kadali varieties have a bitter taste. If the juice is neutral and bland, it is best for poltho. Nendran, Red banana, Karpura Kadali, Adakka Poovan, Palayankodan and certain other varieties have nice, edible pith. The pith is called ‘Kaambe’ in Malayalam and ‘Gabbo’ in Konkani.

          Banana pith contains a tremendous amount of fibre with large water content and can be eaten both raw as well as cooked. Health conscious juice lovers often drink raw banana pith juice seasoned with salt. Banana pith, prepared in whatsoever way, is an excellent cleanser of your entire digestive, excretory tract. Regular eaters of banana flower pods (see my bondiyé upkari recipe) and banana piths can banish forever the nightmare of piles. The Konkani people prepare several delicious dishes using fresh banana pith.


     1)    Central pith of the banana stem of Nendran and other sweet varieties which resembles a fluorescent tube light in appearance once all the outer sheathes have been removed – 150 gm.
     2)    Thick fresh curd – 200 ml.
     3)    Mustard seeds – ¼ teaspoon
     4)    Cumin seeds – ½ teaspoon
     5)    Coconut oil – 2 teaspoons
     6)    Hot green chili – 1 no.
     7)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 Nos.
     8)    Tender curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     9)    Salt – 1¼ teaspoons

To Make:

          Use a sharp knife to slice the pith into thin discs around 3 mm. thicknesses. When you cut each disc, you will find countless strings of fibre binding each disc to the other.

          These strings resemble cobwebs and need to be removed and discarded by rolling them around your forefinger every time a disc is cut.

          Now stack 4 or 5 discs and dice into fine cubes of around 3 mm. sizes and set aside.

          Now discard the stems of both types of chilies. If you are a chili lover and want your gabbya poltho to be hot, chop the chilies to very fine bits. If however, you prefer sweeter, milder poltho, simply split the chilies into halves or just break each one into 2 or 3 pieces and set aside. Pluck the curry leaves from their sprigs and set aside.

          Put the banana pith cubes into a mixing bowl. Pour in the curd and tip in the salt. Mix nicely. Set a small pan on low heat. Pour in the coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as they are about to finish popping, tip in the cumin seeds. Stir once and tip in the chilies and the curry leaves. Stir twice and switch off the heat. Quickly tip over the entire contents of the pan into the salad. Mix well.

          Your fresh and crunchy gabbya poltho is ready to eat. Pour over a plate of soft parboiled rice and enjoy. You can also relish gabbya poltho just by itself or as a side dish to a feast.

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