August 18, 2009
Lenke or Wild Bananas
The flowers of wild bananas are exotic and not easily available in the supermarket or local indigenous markets. However it is the preferred food of the indigenous people in the ulu as it is wild and free.
The usual mode of collecting the wild banana flowers is an excursion made by a group of ladies who are preparing for a feast or celebration be it a birthday or a gawai. The ladies armed with parangs and each carrying a "raga" or back basket would set out in the morning to collect wild ferns and other wild vegetables. However an a daily trip to the farm the housewife could always slash a bunch or two of the flowers along the way when she comes across some blossoms. She would never take more than she and her family needs.
Being very perishables these edibles must be cooked and eaten within the day or the next day.
The flowers in the photos were taken during my own excursion to the ulu not long ago and I took the photos from the comfort of my own vehicle!! Unfortunately only two flowers were sighted.
Here's the indigenous recipe for you should you one day come across a bundle of these wild banana flowers for your table:
You will need half a chicken which has been freshly barbequed (marinated with salt only)- a bamboo for the pansur (preferrably but optional) and lemon grass.
Slice two wild banana flowers nicely.
Prepare the lemon grass
Cut the chicken into bite pieces.
Prepare a nice charcoal fire in your backyard if you are going to do a pansur (cook in bamboo).
Mix the chicken pieces and the wild banana flowers well.
Add the slices of lemon grass.
Place the mixture in the bamboo/pot.
Add some salt and garlic too if you like.
Put a bunch of bruised tapioca leaves at the opening of the bamboo. (This is definitely not necessary if you are using a pot)
Cook the bamboo/pot of the delicious exotic mixture over a gentle fire.
Excellent in taste and pretty in looks this dish is fit for a king or queen!