Unwrapping Thailand’s Boutique Banana
The Lady Fingers pack the sweetest punch – along with health-giving benefits
Words: Ariya Chaiyarit
Photo & Style: Samatcha Apaisuwan
Thailand’s Lady Finger bananas may be small in size, but they pack a powerful sweet punch that not only delights tastebuds but also promotes good health.
Think of bananas and what usually pops into our heads are the big Cavendish bananas, or “kluay hom” as they are called in Thai.
However, there are actually over 1,000 banana varieties found across the world, and almost half of them are inedible.
In Thailand, the most popular bananas are Cavendish, Pisang Awak or “kluay namwa”, and Lady Finger or “kluay khai” – the sweetest of them all.
These tiny, elegant bananas have a thin, bright yellow skin and come shaped like a fat cigar stretching 3 to 5 inches long.
The flesh boasts a rich, creamy texture and gorgeously sweet flavour, earning them the nickname “sugar bananas”.
A treat when eaten fresh, Lady Fingers are also transformed into various delectable desserts by soaking them in syrup (kluay chueam), coconut milk (kluay buad chee), frying into crispy coconut banana rolls (khao mao thod), turning them into chips, candy, cake, bread, and cookies, and even adding them to fried roti.
The unripe fruit is also used in savoury dishes like chicken curry.
Though Lady Finger bananas are available all year-round, they take centre stage during the 10th lunar month festival known as Sart Duean Sib, celebrated in southern Thailand in September or October.
The annual festival to honour ancestors
sees monks offered “krayasart” – a sticky sweet made of rice, nuts, sesame seeds, sugar and coconut milk – which is traditionally paired with Lady Finger bananas for an exquisite flavour.
These petite bananas are also overflowing with potassium, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and beta carotene, which helps protect against free radicals, lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. Surprisingly, despite being known as “sugar bananas”, they are relatively low in sugar.
So, consider adding these delectable yellow gems to your next shopping list, and savour the sweet, healthy benefits they bring.