As summer steps in to our life with all the heat, humidity and all my favorite vegetables vanish from the market, the biggest concern becomes what to cook. I think that's an eternal question for all who are in charge of the kitchen. Though summer has its own bounty of offering in terms of seasonal vegetables, the long stretch of summer we experience in this part of the world makes you run out of choice to cook something new. Add to this in a sub-tropical country like ours everyday household work turns tiresome and difficult, specially working in front of the oven in the kitchen.
Vegetables like potol (pointed gourd), jhinge (ridged gourd), bhindi (okra), enchor (young jackfruit) are common during summer and having those same mundane vegetables for long 7-8 months is understandably boring. Due to the heat I prefer having more vegetables than non-vegetarian elements on my plate. Traditional Bengali cuisine comes to a rescue when I'm out ideas what to cook. Today I prepared one of such gem from Bengali cuisine, Kanchkolar kofta.
Kanchkola is plantain, the green or raw banana. These are eaten as vegetable in various ways, boiled, fried, or made into a curry. Today made a plantain kofta curry. Kofta as we all know translates to meat ball. In this case there is no meat but boiled plantains are mixed with various spices and shaped into small round balls and fried. The deep fried plantain koftas are again briefly cooked in an flavorful curry.
This recipe has a secret ingredient, the roasted spice powder. Roasted spice powder or bhaja mosla as we say in Bengali is a key ingredient in many recipes. And there are several different bhaja mosla recipes depending on the dishes they are used into.
Keep few things in mind while working with plantain, they can be sticky so use a little oil on the chopping board and knife while preparing. It will make it easy to clean up. After peeling and chopping the plantain keep them in a bowl filled with water, or else the plantain pieces will turn brownish to black.
Things needed to make Plantain Kofta Curry:
For the roasted spice:
- Dry red chili: 1
- Cinnamon: 1 inch
- Green cardamom: 3-4
- Cloves: 4-5
- Cumin: 1 tsp
For the kofta:
- Kanchkola or Plantain: 3
- Potato: 1
- Ginger (grated): 2 tsp
- Roasted spice: 2 tsp
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Sugar as per taste
- Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder: 1 tsp (as per taste)
- Mustard oil: to deep fry
For the gravy:
- Asafoetida (hing): 1/4 tsp
- Bay leaves: 2-3
- Cumin seed: 1 tsp
- Dry red chili: 2-3
- Ginger (paste): 1 tbsp
- Tomato (seeded and chopped): 1 large
- Poppy seed paste: 3 tbsp
- Roasted spice to sprinkle
- Ghee: 1-2 tbsp
- Mustard oil:
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste
- Green chilies as per taste
Steps for making Plantain Kofta Curry:
1. For the roasted spice powder: Take all the spices under the roasted spice in a tawa or flat pan, roasted over low heat till the spices leave nice aroma. Keep stirring continuously to avoid burning the spices. Let the spices cool down, grind to powder. It's recommended to make the spice powder fresh.
2. For the kofta: Peel and cut plantains (kanchkola) and potato. Cook them till soft. The plantain and potato will be cooked through but should not be mushy.
3. Take the cooked plantain and potato in a bowl mash them well. Add grated ginger, salt, a pinch of sugar, turmeric powder, red chili powder an freshly made roasted spice powder. Mix well and make 10-12 balls. Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the koftas to golden brown. Take out and keep aside.
3. For the gravy: Wipe off excess oil from the pan, take 2 tablespoon of oil, when the oil is hot add bay leaves, dry red chili, cumin, asafoetida (hing). As the spices leave a nice aroma add ginger paste and cook for a minute. Add chopped and seeded tomato, sprinkle a little salt, cover and cook for 2-3 min over low flame.
4. As the tomato softens add turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, along with few tablespoons of water, mix well and cook.
5. Add poppy seed paste and cook till oil separates.
6. Add 2 cups of water, salt, sugar, green chilies and let it boil. As the gravy boils add the fried koftas and cover. Cook for 2-3 mins. Switch off the heat. Add spoonful of ghee and sprinkle roasted spices powder. Serve hot with rice or roti.
Note: Cooking the koftas longer in the gravy make them too soft to handle. Add the koftas to gravy just before serving to stop them from fall apart. The koftas also tend to absorb a good amount of water from the gravy so make sure to add good amount water to start with while making the gravy.
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