Plaintain Flower/Vazhaipoo Florets – How to pick and clean

I am an adimai of vazhaipoovadai and for a very long time I did not attempt them because I didn’t know how to pick them. It’s a little time consuming but more than worth it. You can do it ahead, say the previous night but make sure to dunk them in buttermilk and refrigerate them. Else they’ll discolour. The plaintain flower/vazhaipoo is a maroon coloured large sized flower bud. When you peel the maroon petals, you’ll see little ivory coloured sticks at the base of the flower. These ivory coloured sticks are what we’ll use in cooking.
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Front view of the stamen and plastic like covering

Pull these sticks from the base and remove the plastic like sheath and stamen shown in the picture. Dunk the rest of the ivory coloured stick in a bowl of buttermilk to avoid browning.
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See the stamen and plastic like sheath that I’ve pulled aside. Remove these.

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With these small florets, you can just nip off 
the bulging tip and use the rest of it

 As you near the inner layers, the petals will get smaller and smaller and so will the ivory sticks. Here, you needn’t bother looking for the plastic covering. It’ll be too fine. Just pinch the top portion of the stick to pull out the stamen. The teeny tiny sticks at the very centre can be used as is without any processing. You can now use these florets to make delicious vazhaipoo vadais.

Notes:

1.      Oil your hands to avoid staining. Picking these vazhaipoo florets can stain your fingers and nails an ugly black. If you still end up with stained fingers, rub some rock salt (Kal uppu) over the stains and then wash your hands with soap.

2.      Have a big bowl of diluted buttermilk ready at the outset to dunk the florets as soon as they are picked.

3.      If you are going to use the florets the next day, refrigerate the whole thing “florets immersed in buttermilk” till use.

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