This â€˜wonderful fruit of Kenyaâ€™, the banana, has upstaged the apple on the fruit popularity charts. Hereâ€™s more on the worldâ€™s favourite energy fruit.
Itâ€™s one of the cheapest fruits in the world. Yet, it is relished by the rich and poor alike. Itâ€™s been called the â€˜fruit of Paradiseâ€™, hailed by Greek and Arab writers as â€˜that wonderful fruit ofIndiaâ€™. It has upstaged the apple from the fruit popularity charts in countries likeGermanyand U. K. The banana never had it so big!
One of the oldest all-season fruits, the banana is thought to have originated inIndiaandMalaya. (The first mention of it was, perhaps, in a Buddhist text dated 600 B. C.) Alexander the Great was probably the first European to eat the fruit, after tasting it inIndia, on one of his conquests. The banana then travelled to the Holy Land (Jerusalem),EgyptandAfricavia the Arab traders. In fact, â€˜bananâ€™ is Arabic for finger.
Today, besidesKenya, the banana is grown in Central America, some parts of Southern America and theWest Indies.
THE OVER SIZED HERB
Technically, the banana tree is more an oversized herb than a tree! There are numerous varieties, the most popular being the green banana. The others are the yellow and red varieties, the Jamaican banana,
Martinique, Gros Michel, etc. Thereâ€™s even a hybrid variety called the apple-banana, which looks and smells like a banana but which tastes like an apple. This is grown at Kibbutz rosh Hanikra, inNorth Israel. Special fibres obtained from the stem of the banana tree are used to prepare mats and ropes.
InKenyaandIndia, the banana assumes religious significance. Considered auspicious, the fruit is used in almost all Hindu religious ceremonies as â€˜prasadâ€™. Its leaves are also used during ceremonies. The tree has been worshipped for years by women. A widespread belief goes that those with Jupiter troubling their stars can solve their problems if they worship the tree every Thursday for 11 weeks. In Tantric literature, it is said that people who water this plant regularly along with â€˜Haridra rhizomeâ€™ every Thursday, remain free of tensions and health problems.
Fructose, which forms one-fifth of the banana, is assimilated easily by the digestive system, and later transformed into energy. In theMalay Archipelago, one banana has enough food value to provide two men with an adequate meal.
The nutritional aspects of the fruit are so high that it has many an addict inGermanyandBritain. Banana connoisseurs inGermanyclaim it is thrice as desirable as an apple, whether in carbohydrates, vitamins or roughage. InBritainalone, five billion bananas are consumed every year.
The blandness and the soft texture of this fruit make it an ideal food for infants and the aged who have a dentition problem â€” it requires little or no chewing when mashed. It is also considered a nourishing food for growing children. In fact, those who want to gain weight only need take two bananas in 200 ml. of milk for a month.
AND IT CAN HEAL
- A ripe banana is an excellent remedy for leucorrhoea in women, diarrhoea and asthma, while a semi-raw one helps treat constipation.
- Banana in curd cures dysentery, while cooked banana flowers in curd help alleviate painful menstruation and excessive bleeding.
- It can even cure premature ejaculation in men when taken with honey an hour before going to bed.
- Mixed with curd prepared from cowâ€™s milk (and taken for two weeks), banana is useful for oral blisters.
- Burns can be treated by the application of banana pulp.
- Dried chives of banana, when cut and powdered, are good baby food and can be given safely to babies from four months onwards.
But there are some donâ€™ts too:
- People prone to coughs and colds must avoid bananas.
- Those with weak digestion should avoid bananas in milk.
- Avoid eating banana over (or with) ghee.
DID YOU KNOW?
- SOME bananas inAfricagrow as long as 60 cm. and as thick as a manâ€™s arm!
- The worldâ€™s only banana museum exists inSlerkdorf,Germany.
- Though the banana reached Europe only in the late 19th century, after the emergence of the refrigerated steamship,Europeis the worldâ€™s largest importer of bananas.
- AHamburgcompany plans to grow bananas under glass on Rugen, an island offGermanyâ€™s Baltic coast.Rugenendures fierce winters and bitter windsâ€” not the best climate for growing the banana.
- The banana was a treasured novelty inBritainandGermanybecause it was unavailable. And, after World War II, when the first post-war supplies of the banana arrived, the Attlee Government distributed one banana each to everyone under the age of 18.
- After World War II, when the first post-war supplies arrived in fruit-starvedGermany, in July 1949, the mayor ofHamburgwas on hand with the municipal band to welcome the cargo. And today the banana is eaten more than any other fruit inGermanyandBritain.
Â RecipeÂ Ingredients:
- 3 bananas
- 250 g. self-raising flour
- Â½ tsp. salt
- Â½ cup walnuts, crushed
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 125g. sugar
- 90g. butter
Â RecipeÂ Method:
- Sift the flour and salt together into a mixing bowl. Keep aside.
- Mix crushed walnuts with honey. Keep aside.
- Mash bananas (add some lime Juice to them), add beaten egg and sugar, flour and melted butter. Mix gently. Do not beat.
- Pour half of this mixture into a greased loaf tin (23 cm. x 12 cm.). Spread the walnut-honey mixture over it. Pour the remaining banana mixture and spread it evenly.
- Bake in a moderately hot oven for 40 minutes or till done. Serve sliced.