THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “If you eat the chips made from popoulu, you won’t ever care for other banana chips,” someone advises from a stall, nodding at the fattest banana you would have seen ever in your entire life - the popoulu.
It seems like a claim you should take with a pinch of salt, but one look at the crispy, big, banana chips packed in a small sachet neatly arranged next to the big bunch of popoulus, and one would fall for it. Just one popoulu can weigh 500 grams.The Vellayani Temple grounds bursts with an eclectic array of bananas from across the nation as it hosts the National Banana Festival 2018. With 200 stalls, the biggest expo in the city is a sneak peek into the enticing and surprising world of bananas.
The five-day festival which started on Saturday is organised by the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social action in partnership with Kalliyoor grama panchayat and several other governments and non-government organisations.A stroll through the expo and one can see bananas of all shapes, sizes, hues and tastes. Bananas from Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala among others, are displayed in all its largely ‘golden’ grandeur.
The fattest popoulu, a variety indigenous to Hawaii; the ‘aayiram kaa poovan’ (literally the 1,000-finger banana), the longest variety which is as long as the trunk of an elephant; the ‘praying hands banana’ where the bananas are fused together resembling a praying hand, the ‘Pisang Berlin’ banana which is loaded with vitamin A; the medicinal ‘patchai naadan’ which can aid in healing chicken pox, figure among the myriad banana varieties vying for attention at a one-of-a-kind expo in the city.
There are also value-added banana products: Jams, pickles, chocolates, cookies, biscuits, flour, footwear, bags, carpets, health mixes, halwas, and fabric made from bananas and its fiber. An exhibition of photographs capturing the vast range of banana varieties is also arranged at the fest.
Traditional agricultural implements from the days of yore are also on the display. Apart from bananas and value-added products, seminars, buyer-seller meets, farmers’ meet, screening of documentaries related to bananas, cultural programmes, competitions for children and farmers are some of the programmes charted along with the fest.
Of course, what is a banana fest without a grandiose culinary treat of bananas. A sumptuous banana feast replete with more than 20 dishes and two payasams, all made of different kinds of bananas.
What’s on show
Around 100 varieties of bananas sourced from different parts of the state and across the nation are on display
Jams, pickles, chocolates, cookies, biscuits, flour, footwear, bags, carpets, health mixes, halwas, fabric made from bananas and its fibre, are some among the highlights.
Halwas made from banana varieties such as moris, annan, rasakadali and kappapazham are among the attractions.
A host of agricultural and household implements from the days of yore are exhibited
Tuber varieties and their value-added products are also part of the fest.
Bananas for sadya
A grand sadya comprising eighteen side dishes, curries, pickles, payasams (dessert), all made from bananas are served in a plantain leaf. The ‘parippu’ and ‘sambar’, get a fresh spin as it is crafted using different bananas. The payasams made from red banana and poovan banana are the highlights of the meal.