Banana Stem / Vazhathandu Stir Fry


The largest herbaceous plant in the world is the Banana or Plantain plant. No part of this plant goes to waste. The fruit, the flower, the leaves and the stem are all either edible or used in culinary dishes, in some parts of the world. The Banana Stem or Vazhaithandu (Tamil) or Thor Ghonto (Bengali) is actually not a stem but is a flowering stalk. The thick stalk grows from the ground upwards and supports the herbaceous plant.

This vegetable is included in the daily diet in Southern India, as it has many health benefits. The juice of the banana stem especially has the ability to regulate many disorders in the human body, when consumed daily. Health benefits that can be derived from eating the pith or core of the banana stem are:

Constipation – Because of its fibrous core, it helps relieve constipation

Diabetes – Consuming the banana stem does not raise the blood sugar sharply as in other foods. It further helps in production of haemoglobin and insulin

Hyper Acidity – Is good for patients suffering from ulcers and hyper acidity

Kidney Stones – Including this vegetable in a weekly diet, helps prevent formation of kidney stones

Urinary Tract Infection – A good diuretic and helps detoxify the body of its impurities

Weight Loss – A cup of this vegetable is filling and it is rich in fiber, hence helps in weight loss

Calories: In one serving of 100 grams of banana stem, calories contained: 13. Total fat- 0g; Cholesterol – 0mg; Sodium – 0mg; Potassium – 0mg; Carbohydrates – 2 g; Dietary Fiber – 2 g; Protein – 1 g.

Preparation Time – 20 minutes; Cooking time: 20 minutes; Serves: 4 – 6


  • 2 cups Banana Stem or Vazhaithandu or Thor
  • 1 potato medium size
  • 3 tablespoons black channa gram or kadalai (whole)
  • 2 tsps ginger paste
  • ½ tsp green chilli paste
  • ½ tsp cumin (jeera) powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 pinches of turmeric powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 whole dry red chilli
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Oil (refined preferably)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee


1. Soak the kadalai or black channa gram overnight in a bowl of water.

2. Boil or pressure cook the channa / kadalai with salt to taste. Drain and keep aside.

3. Add a pinch or two of turmeric powder to a bowl of water.

4. Next remove the thick hard outer layer of the Vazhaithandu or thor. Slice the inner pith or core into round slices and then into smaller pieces either ¼ inch long or diced small and put it into the bowl of water and turmeric powder. The turmeric water will keep the diced banana stem from turning brown.

5. Boil the diced thor in a pan of water, add salt and turmeric powder and cook until it becomes tender. Remove the thor and reserve the stock.

6. Wash, peel and finely chop the potato.

7. Next place a kadai or wok on the stove and add the oil.

8. Toss in the fennel seeds and sauté till the fragrance arises, and add in the bay leaves, dry red chilli and sauté. Split the red chilli in half and slightly crush it, before adding.

9. Add the diced potato, salt and turmeric powder and cook till golden brown, over medium heat.

10. In a small bowl place the ginger paste, green chilli paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt to taste and mix with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water.

11. Add the paste of ginger, chilli paste etc to the potato and mix well. Keep stirring until the oil separates around the edges.

12. Add in the boiled channa / kadali and the boiled Vazhaithandu / thor to the potato mixture. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes over high flame and add in a half cup of the stock. Bring down the flame and cover the kadai / wok and let the thor ghonto simmer until done.

13. There won’t be much gravy in this dish, so ensure the water evaporates.

14. Finally add the ghee and stir. Turn of the heat and remove the kadai / wok from the stove.

Serve with hot steaming rice and yellow dal. Bon appétit!