Banana is a fruit for all seasons. There are more than 1000 varieties of this fruit available in the world and Tamil Nadu is the Fifth largest Banana growing region. With land conducive for growing, Bananas are cultivated in various regions in this state. The highest cultivation is done in Tirunelveli plains. Some of the common Bananas of Tamil Nadu are Virupakshi, Robusta, Red Banana, Poovan, Rasthali, Nendran, Matti, Monthan, Karpuravalli, Sakkai and Peyan.
Here is a little more information of the Bananas of Tamil Nadu…
Matti Banana is popular variety of Nagercoil district of this Tamil Nadu (TN). It appears long and slender. You may find it a bit on the expensive side as compared to other varieties found in the state. Given its nutritious values, Pulped Matti Bananas are fed even to babies who are just 10 months old. They need not even be steamed for this purpose as they are easy to digest.
Rasthali is grown in various states of India such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Bihar. It has a unique aroma + taste and is used in desserts and fruit salads. Its usage improves blood circulation.
Virupakshi/Hill Banana also called as Malai Vazhai is a small sized banana grown in hilly regions such as Palani. It is packed with nutrients and has an amazing taste. It helps in weight loss, cures intestinal disorders and is very effective in health conditions such as anemia, arthritis, gout, urinary disorders, gout and menstrual problems.
The next on the list of Bananas of Tamil Nadu is the Ney Poovan. It is dark green when unripe. Its color changes golden yellow on ripening. Though still firm, it attains a distinct fragrance and taste. Elsewhere this fruit goes by the names – Safed Velchi, Deva Bale, Vaddakan Kadali, Ney Kadali and Njali PoovanMost of these Banana varieties are rich sources of Potassium, Beta Carotene, and Vitamin C. Hence they are usually consumed when ripe. Few are used in various desserts as well. Surprisingly, they can be used as face or hair masks too
Some varieties of Bananas are plucked early and used in cooking just like other common vegetables. Monthan is a one such variety that is widely grown for vegetable purposes in the State. It is also called Kanch kela or Bontha. Other features are pale green color and thick skin. The pulp is used for making chips in some parts of the state. As it is rich in starch, its flour is used for making biscuits, cookies, and breads. It is believed to cool your body and hence given to people affected by Chicken pox.
Nendran fruit is more popular in Kerala but available in TN too. It has green skin. It is mostly used for making Chips. It gets a buff yellow color on ripening. Ripe Nendran are recommended for skinny kids to gain weight.
The highest production of Poovan/Cavendish/Yelaki Banana is in TN. This is due to the existing climatic and soil conducive for this variety. They are referred to as Ladies finger Banana due to their size. These extremely tasty small fruits are called Chinia kela in Bihar. Over ripe varieties of this fruit are used in making desserts.
Red Banana is also called Dacca. It is extensively grown in Kanyakumari, and Tirunelveli districts in TN. With a creamy texture, it’s also has a hint raspberry flavor. It sought by many due to its numerous benefits. This fruit releases sugar slowly thus energy levels can be upped easily. Along with the regular benefits of Bananas, the red variety also has B6 vitamin, Vitamin D that positively influence Red blood cell production and protein metabolism. In all, this variety has a total of 6 vitamins, 11 minerals, fiber content, carbohydrates content and Antioxidant benefits, reasons why even doctors advise eating it. Karporavalli is the sweetest of all Indian Bananas. In Bihar it is called Kanthali. It ripens faster and should be eaten as soon as possible. Some other names of this sweet treat are Kostha Bontha, Boodi Bale, Boodida Bukkisa and Kanthali.
While Karpuravalli is very sweet, it is susceptible to leaf spot diseases. Udayam is an alternative cash crop variety which gives more yield to farmers.
Pachanadan is known to help cool off your body during hot and dusty TN summers. It is cultivated as an intercrop in coconut/areca fields.
Grand Naine is one among the Bananas of Tamil Nadu that is export-worthy according to growers. This is due to its peel-pulp ratio and attractive golden yellow color. Eaten raw, it is also used to make desserts. Some of the other edible products made from this banana are Halwa, milk shakes and Nutrition Powders for babies.Photo by Steve Hopson
Most local shops in Tamil Nadu, especially selling Tea or Coffee, hoard at least a comb of local variety of Bananas. So, whenever you visit this South Indian State, do not forget ask for one so that you do not miss on the special benefits that this wonder fruit has to offer.