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Banana (Hnget pyaw)

  The banana is widely cultivated in Myanmar because of its usefulness and because it is an integral part of our culture. There are few villages without clumps of bananas waving their windmill-like leaves from corners of gardens and sombre monasteries.

Hands of bananas, together with coconuts, betel leaves and other fruit, are included in offertories arranged in bowls. There are about 150 species in the banana family, and at least 25 are grown in Myanmar. The popular strains are Hpee gyann (coarse hand), Hnget pyar (blue plantain), Byat pyeith (tray full), Thange zar (kid's pablum), Rakhine ngapyaw (Rakhine variety), Thee hmwe (fragrant banana), Nanthabu (short and perfumed), Htawbhat (butter plantain), and Shweyni or shwey hgnetpyaw (red plantain).

Bananas can be eaten fresh, cooked or preserved in various ways. The peeled fruit can be dipped in rice flour batter and deep fried, or roasted with the peel intact. The male bud is eaten as a vegetable. Leaves are used for packing, wrapping and decorative purposes.