British TV chef Nigella Lawson has taken the humble banana peel out of the garbage and onto the plate, after she used it as an ingredient in her new show Cook, Eat, Repeat.
Many British viewers reacted with dismay when Lawson used the skin of ripe bananas in her recipe for banana skin and cauliflower curry. But the peel of ripe bananas, while normally treated as food waste in the west, is a much-used and cherished ingredient in other parts of the world, like India and the Middle East.
Nigella is enjoying the media attention for her ‘controversial’ addition of banana peel to curry, but she’s not the first TV chef to bring the versatile ingredient to the British public.
Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain famously showed people how to make 'banana peel burgers' this year, telling people that they taste like pulled pork.
Eating banana peels, and fruit peels in general, is encouraged by the department of agriculture in many countries around the world, as it reduces food waste. While providing essential amino acids and nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin E, they also contain potassium, zinc, iron, and manganese. Make sure to use organic bananas when eating the peels, as the skins can absorb various pesticides used in growing bananas.
In Cook, Eat, Repeat, Lawson used the banana peel for texture, as a sort of substitute for aubergine or eggplant. She pours boiling water over the banana peel and then, when the other ingredients – shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander, spices, chilli, coconut milk, lemon juice (“to add a bit of edge”) – are cooked, the chopped-up banana peels are added. The cauliflower is added at the end to keep it nice and firm in the curry.