The banana flower is a large, dark purple-red blossom that grows from the end of a bunch of bananas. The banana flower is used in several Asian and tropical cuisines as a vegetable. We Bengalis call it the 'Mocha'; ‘ch’ is not 'k' like chord, but pronounced like as in chair. Good you pronounced it right.
Banana trees are very common in different states of India. There is an abundance of banana plants in rural West Bengal, India. Every part of the plant is utilised. The stem (thor) and the flower (mocha) used as a vegetable, leaves(kola pata) as plates to serve food or to wrap and cook food, and of course we all know about the fruit banana(kola). Not only for consuming it as food, banana plants are considered very auspicious. They are used in religious rituals, wedding ceremony.
Today I made mochar ghonto. Ghonto is dry curry. It is a delicious unique preparation of the banana blossom with scraped coconut and potato. Now a days this mochar ghonto has taken its place in the menu of different restaurants in Kolkata.
I remember my childhood days, how my mother used to peel the mocha. I used sit next to her, and as she used to peel and discard the purple covers of the blossom I used to pretend those as boat and play with those. And I still remember how Ma used warn me not to touch the mocha or my hands will stain black with the iron-rich juice of mocha.This peeling and preparing the blossom for cooking is a long process. This is a reason why many of us avoid making this dish with banana blossom.
But I love mochar ghonto and other dishes of banana blossom so much this peeling shredding could not stop me from cooking it.
When cooking the banana blossom one must know how to peel it. Here I have tried to explain it with some pictures.
Now chop all those sorted flowers and the soft core. Keep them dipped in a water filled container with some turmeric powder for 5-6hrs. This will help reduce the bitterness if any, and also take out the stickiness of the sap.
Drain and boil in a pressure cooker. I cooked till 2 whistles. Let the pressure release. Drain out all the water and mash the boiled mocha.
|After mashing the boiled mocha|
As I told you I made mochar ghonto today. Here is the recipe for that.
Thing needed to make mochar ghonto:
- Boiled mashed mocha: 1Cup
- Potato(cut into small cubes): 1Cup
- Coconut: 1/4 cup
- Cumin: 1/4 tsp
- Bay leaf:1-2
- Whole garam masala
- Cumin powder: 1tsp
- Dry red chili:2-3
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste
- Turmeric powder: a pinch
- Garam masala powder: 1/2tsp
How to make mochar ghonto:1. Take oil in a kadai or pan. When the oil is hot, add the small cubed potatoes. Sprinkle a pinch of turmeric and salt. Fry them in high heat for 3-4 min. Take out the fried potatoes and keep them aside.
2. Now add whole garam masala(cinnamon sticks, green cardamom, cloves), bay leaf, cumin seeds, dry red chilies to the oil. Cook in medium heat till the masala releases nice flavor or for 2min.
3. Add half of the grated coconut. Cook in low heat, do not burn the coconut. Cook for 3-4min.
4. Add the grated ginger, cumin powder and the boiled-mashed mocha. Mix well. Cook for 2-3min.
5.Add the fried potato, cover and let it cook in a very low heat for 7-8min.
6. Add salt and sugar. Add ghee and garam masala powder and left over grated coconut. Mix well.
My mother adds soaked kala chana in the mochar ghonto, but I did not have kala chanas in my pantry so could not add them. You can add either overnight soaked kala chana or fried bori(lentil dumplings) to the mochar ghonto.
Serve along with some steamed rice..