Mocha of the flowery (not caffeine) kind
Exotic you say? Nay. Approach any Bengali on the subject and they will tell you banana flower curry or mochar ghonto is a traditional feature of their platter. It’s interesting to note that Bengalis cook and consume all parts of the banana plant. The fruit itself of course, in both ripe and unripe forms; the flower, known as (by now you must have figured) mocha in Bengali; and the white stem, which Bengalis call thor. So what about the leaf, you want to know. Well, it has a special place too—as a serving plate, and as a wrapping in which some ethnic Bengali dishes such as fish paturi are cooked. While looking for more resources on this flower/vegetable on the Internet, I learned it is eaten as a vegetable in many Asian countries.
This is what it looks like when you remove the petals. See the florets tucked on to the body of the flower? Those are the stars of our featured dish.
And here’s how the florets look when you separate/pluck them from the body of the flower.
So there. A mocha lover to the core, I can vouch for the deliciousness of this dish. However, preparing it requires some devotion and patience. You have to clean each floret (and there are hundreds in a single flower, trust me), by picking out a soft stem and a little transparent film-like cover from them. The finished product makes up for all the hard work though.
Mochar Ghonto/Banana Flower Curry:
Mocha/Banana flower – 1
Potato – 1 big, peeled and cubed
Black chick peas – ½ cup
Cumin seeds – ½ teaspoon
Cumin + Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
Coconut grated – 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon
Bay leaves – 2
Garam Masala (Grind green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon into a thick paste by adding a little water)
Ghee – 1 teaspoon
Salt – To taste
Sugar – To taste
Mustard oil for cooking
1. Clean the mocha florets and soak them in salt water overnight. This is a very important step since these florets have this sticky matter, which gives a bitter taste if the salt-water soaking part is skipped. So this step is a MUST.
2. Soak the black chick peas overnight and boil them the next day.
3. Wash the soaked florets nicely and chop them fine. Then boil them and strain in a separate vessel.
4. Heat oil in a skillet and fry the cubed potato pieces. When they turn a little brown, remove from oil.
5. In the same oil put cumin seeds and bay leaves.
6. When the cumin seeds begin to splutter, add cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder, ginger paste, salt and sugar. Fry a bit and add a little water. Lower the heat.
7. When the oil starts separating from the spices, add the boiled mocha florets, boiled chickpeas and the half-fried potato cubes. Add some more salt, if required.
8. Cover the skillet and let the curry cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.
9. Remove cover and stir the mix. When the potato is cooked and moisture has left the mocha florets, add ghee and the garam masala paste.
10. Remove from fire, garnish with grated/shredded coconut and green chillies.
11. Serve hot with rice/chapatti/parantha.
Hope you enjoy :)