Lafu Tharo paknam is one of the favorite cuisine of Meetei. Today, this banana flower-baked food is popular among every communities living in Manipur.
Lafu tharo paknam is also found in other South East Asian countries. The ingredients and the procedure of paknam are almost same. We can get kanglayen paknam, khajing paknam, nga paknam or Nganam.
Modern kitchen now baked nga marum paknam (fish egg) and chicken paknam. Traditionally paknam are prepared in frying pan compressed with a heavy object above the baked ingredients.
However, these days, microwave oven are used to prepare paknam. Sometimes, Meetei paknam are known as Manipuri pizza.
Ingredients needed for preparing lafu tharo paknam
We need freshly harvested lafu tharo (banana flower), besan (gram flour), ngari (fermented fish), maroi napakpi (winter leek), chilies, salt, turmeric powder and most importantly yaingang mana (turmeric leaves) to cover the baked ingredients.
Preparation for baking
The banana flower are washed properly and remove the outer cover. Then it is sliced into small pieces. Cut the maroi napakpi into pieces as well.
Next, we have to take the besan and add other ingredients like ngari, maroi napakpi, salt and morok (chillies) proportionately.
Then add the lafu tharo and kneaded the besan along with few quantity of waters. The more we kneaded the besan uniformly, our paknam will be more tasty.
When we are done with the preparation of kneaded besan, it is time to wrap our paknam with the yaingang mana. The wrapping should be done in such a way that the whole besan preparation must be covered.
Get ready to baked in the open fire, over a flat frying pan. When the frying pan is getting warmer, put the ingredients in the pan. And pressed it with a heavy objects to compressed.
This method of compressing the besan is helpful in getting the best paknam. The more we pressure above the paknam, the more crunchy and dry our paknam will be!
Fry the paknam over the pan until all our outer covering yaingang mana are partially burnt. I forgot to mention above, we have to cover the besan preparation with 2-3 layers of yaingang mana.
The second or innermost layer should not allowed to burn, else our paknam will go wasted. The final product looks like a hard pizza. Cut it with a sharp knife into pieces.
Now you got the best Meetei cuisine, the lafu tharo paknam.
The combination of ngari, maroi napakpi and the yaingang mana added flavor to our paknam.
Health benefits of lafu tharo
When a person returns home after staying far away for vacations, trips and workplace, lafu tharo eromba or lafu tharo kanghou is a must. This is a tradition in Meetei society.
Scientifically, this is to kill the infectious bacteria. Lafu tharo consists of anti bacterial properties which can even kill the malarial parasites.
Banana blossoms or flowers are also used in curing of anemia and diabetes, in weight loss due to high contents of fibrous. Lafu tharo is given to lactating mothers as this food provided more milk to the child.
Banana flowers are helpful in women related diseases like menstrual problems, Uterus infection and gastro intestinal diseases.
Besides, lafu tharo have anti ageing properties and helpful in heart diseases.