Plantain Flower, Banana Bell, Banana Heart
The deep purplish-crimson-coloured banana flower is used as a vegetable from Sri Lanka to Laos. The flower is borne at the end of the stem. Long, slender, sterile male flowers with a faint sweet fragrance are lined up in tidy rows and protected by large reddish bracts. Higher up the stem are groups of female flowers which develop into fruit without fertilisation.
In Thailand, slices of tender banana flower are eaten raw with the pungent dip known as nam prik, or with fried noodles, or simmered in a hot sour soup with chicken, galangal and coconut milk.
In the Philippines, banana blossom is added to the famous kari-kari, a rich beef stew. Banana Heart is the favored name in Indonesia purely because its colour and shape suggest a heart.