We were on a quest to create a unique vegetarian dish at Qualia and my mind went to banana flowers. I had tasted it on my travels to Kerala and Kolkata and was bowled over by its flavour. I thought it would lend itself well to producing a ragout consistency. It did and, as it turned out, the flavours worked beautifully with the goat cheese agnolotti. It is by no means a traditional Italian dish and yet all the Italians who have tried it have fallen in love with it.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time


    Plus 3 hours to clean banana flowers


For Pasta Dough

  • 250 gm refined flour
  • 10 gm semolina
  • 2 gm salt
  • 1 gm saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp of water
  • 10 ml olive oil
  • 2 large eggs

For Goat Cheese Stuffing

  • 200 gm goat cheese
  • 10 gm thyme, chopped
  • 10 gm garlic, chopped & fried golden
  • Salt and pepper

For Cleaning Banana Flowers

  • 1 banana flower
  • 50 ml lemon/lime juice
  • 1 tbsp refined oil
  • 1 bowl cold water

For Banana Flower Ragoût

  • 150 gm banana flowers, cleaned
  • 50 gm butter, cubed and cold
  • 20 gm onion, chopped
  • 20 gm carrot, chopped
  • 20 gm leeks, chopped
  • 10 gm celery, chopped
  • 10 gm parsley, chopped
  • 5 gm garlic, chopped
  • 5 gm tarragon
  • 5 gm basil
  • 150 ml tomato juice
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml dry red wine
  • 50 ml dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper

For Parmesan Crisp

  • 100 gm Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 5 gm thyme, chopped
  • 5 gm black pepper, crushed


For Pasta Dough

  1. Add the flour, semolina, salt and olive oil to a bowl and mix well with both hands. Mound up the flour and make a well in the centre.
  2. In another bowl, break two eggs, add saffron and whisk well. 
  3. Add this saffron and egg mixture to the flour well. Slowly combine all the ingredients together, kneading them into a dough. It should be firm and pliable, with a slight springiness to the touch. If the dough is too dry, you can add a few drops of water and continue kneading. 
  4. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in refrigerator for two hours.

For Goat Cheese Stuffing

  1. Drop the stuffing ingredients into a stainless steel bowl and combine well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes till it firms up.

For Agnolotti

  1. With a pasta roller, roll out pasta dough into sheets 2 mm thick and 30 cm long. 
  2. Pipe 1 teaspoon-sized balls of goat cheese stuffing 5 cm in from the edge and at 3 cm intervals. You should ideally fit five balls in a line per pasta sheet. 
  3. Carefully fold over the pasta and push down to seal, making a tube. Trim away excess dough from the sheet to be reused for making more sheets. Using your fingers, pinch the dough between the filling to seal the goat cheese balls in. Fold the pasta forwards to make a flap of dough and then use a pasta cutter or a sharp knife to separate each pocket. 
  4. When you are ready, boil a large pot of lightly salted water and cook agnolotti for 2-3 minutes or till they start to float to the top. Remove, drain and toss in olive oil.

To Clean Banana Flowers

  1. Before beginning, rub some oil on your palms and chopping board to prevent them from getting stained black.
  2. Add lemon juice to a bowl of cold water and set aside.
  3. Take the banana flower and lift off the large external petals called outer bracts. Underneath you will see small florets attached to the top. Remove these florets and gather them in a bowl. Working with small quantities at a time, clean a few florets and repeat the process.
  4. To clean, take each floret and check for the two parts that need to be discarded. The first is the perianth or tepal, the translucent cover that protects the stamen and stigma within. Remove it by simply plucking off the floret. The second is the style-stigma. The style is a long sticky structure with the bulb-like stigma on top. Pluck them from the floret and discard both.
  5. To recap, you need to remove the paper-like cover and style-stigma from each floret. Though time-consuming, this must be done because the two parts are not digestible and make the dish bitter.
  6. Put the cleaned florets in cold lemon water to keep them from discolouring.
  7. As you work your way closer to the flower’s centre, the florets become smaller in size. These florets are tender and their perianth is wrapped tight. You don’t need to clean them. Simply collect these young edible florets.
  8. Finally, like an artichoke, you arrive at the tender, edible banana flower heart. Chop it up and hold with cleaned florets in the cold lemon water.

For Banana Flower Ragout

  1. Sauté onion, garlic, carrots, leeks and celery in a saucepan on low heat till tender.
  2. Add cleaned, drained banana florets and heart and sauté for another five minutes or till they wilt a little.
  3. Deglaze pan with red and white wines, letting alcohol evaporate and the contents dry out a little.
  4. Toss in tomato juice, vegetable stock, salt and pepper, and cook covered on low flame till florets are tender and sauce thickens. This should take around 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, add in herbs, and monté with butter.

For Parmesan Crisp

  1. Mix grated parmesan, thyme and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan on high heat and take off flame. Sprinkle a thin, even layer of grated Parmesan to cover the flat part. The cheese will start melting and coming together.
  3. Lower flame and put pan back on for two minutes or so, till Parmesan melts, releasing some of its oils and turning light golden brown.
  4. Remove from heat and using a palette knife, gently remove Parmesan crisp onto a cold surface to cool.
  5. It will become crispy once cool. Store in an airtight container. 

To Serve

  1. Divide ragoût equally among four serving plates, and cover with agnolotti tossed in olive oil and chopped parsley. Garnish with Parmesan crisp and serve hot.
Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar, the chef-founder of Qualia in Mumbai, was Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for June. He started his culinary journey 35 years ago in the US, returning to India in 1989. Since then, he has been busy changing the way we eat. Known for setting industry trends with his creative, ingredient-driven cuisine, and warm attentive hospitality, Rahul’s award-winning restaurants secured his position as one of India’s first successful, chef-restaurateurs. In his career, he has won many accolades – he was featured in Asiaweek’s Survey of “Kitchen Gods” in 2001 and was 28 on San Pellegrino’s List of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. More recently, he won Chef of The Year at the Times Food Awards 2016, Mumbai. He has been guest chef in several kitchens around the world, authored numerous articles, and frequently consults to the food and hospitality industry.

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