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Thai banana: the tree, leaf, dessert, and herbal usage

In Thailand, people use bananas for many things. This ranges from using the fruits as food and dessert ingredients to using the leaves as container/wrapping. Are Thai bananas different from those that you already know? How can there be so many applications? Learn more about Thai banana tree in this post.

Table of Contents

Different types of Thai bananas

Thai banana_banana type

First, we will cover different types of banana commonly found in Thailand!

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  • 1: Cavendish banana is probably the most common type of banana that we see outside of Thailand. So we believe everyone is already familiar with this one
  • 2: Namwa banana (some sources call this cultivated banana or Pisang Awak) is characterized by its shorter but fattier fruits. This type of banana is also sweeter than others on the list
  • 3: Kai banana (sugar banana) is smaller in size and has thinner skin when compared to Namwa banana
  • 4: Lebmuernang banana (lady finger banana) is characterized by its thin and skinny fruit. Since Lady finger banana is the smallest one on this list, having one of these is never enough!

More information about Thai banana in English can also be found at Top Supermarket’s blog post 

Thai banana tree: the fruit for food and dessert

Thais make use of bananas in many food and dessert recipes. In general, Thai tends to either incorporate raw bananas into or use them as sides for savory dishes. One example is raw Thai banana curry, or some households would use raw banana as a replacement for long beans.

However, the more popular application is to use sweet ripe bananas to create desserts like fried banana, grilled banana, banana with coconut milk, banana sticky rice, and the list goes on. Due to the popularity, we will cover Thai banana desserts in a different article!

Another part of the banana that is used as food is the banana blossom/flower. Given this topic may require more explanation, we will also have a different article to explain banana blossoms and how Thais incorporate such parts into their cuisine.

Thai banana tree: the leaves and trunk

We have found a great resource from Mahidol University which explains how banana trees and leaves can be used, as well as herbal properties of bananas.

The application of banana leaves is more common and you may even see it while traveling in Thailand. Thais traditionally use banana leaves as food containers and wrapping. Even nowadays, certain food/dessert still use banana leaves wrapping as they also add fragrance to the dish after being steamed or grilled. Banana sticky rice is a prime example of this application.

People use the banana tree trunk to make animal feed, typically for cows and pigs. According to the Bureau of Animal Nutrition Development, Thai banana tree trunks contain water, protein and other beneficial nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium. 

Herbal properties

Research has it that ripe bananas are full of vitamins B and C. However, did you know that bananas also have some herbal properties? Banana extracts/raw bananas are said to have some herbal properties like soothing diarrhea or soothing inflammation in the colon.

Thai banana trees importance in Thailand

Banana is a common fruit globally, however as a tropical country – Thailand has many types and usage of bananas. People use the different parts of the Thai banana trees, ranging from its trees, leaves to the fruits, in Thai cuisine, as tools in everyday lives or even as part of an important cultural event like Loy Krathong!

Keep an eye out for different types of Thai bananas or different applications while you are in Thailand!

Read more about Thailand in our other posts: