A traditional Bengali delicacy – mochar ghonto – is at your disposal today! The rich and spice curry made from banana flower is an ultimate pleasure for all Bengali-food-lovers!
Banana tree is nothing short of a miracle and I believe you all will agree with me on that! There is no part of this tree which is not consumed or used by us Indians with glee – be it the banana leaf for serving food and banana stem, banana flower and the banana fruit which we love to eat! Today’s recipe of mochar ghonto is one such wondrous delicacy which is an authentic Bengali preparation too! Banana flower, or ‘mocha’ as we call it, not only looks gorgeous but also has a lot to offer in terms of deliciousness. Mocha has a very distinctive taste that can’t be compared with any other vegetable which is why this mochar ghonto is way too unique in the true sense.
Since childhood I have seen this mochar ghonto in the making at my home and my mom was quite passionate about making it even though it’s a mammoth task to clean the banana flower and bring it to the stage of edibility! It is quite tough to explain the cleaning steps of banana flower florets especially because I have never done it myself yet. I have only seen it being cleaned and got theoretical training on how to clean a banana flower. More than the technical difficulty, this is a much tedious task which demands a lot of patience and perseverance. While exploring through the net to find out the existence of any such article which explains these cleaning steps with required details, I came across this beautiful blog which has explained the cleaning process like no other and consists of outstanding life-like pictures which will blow your mind off!
Mochar ghonto or the dry banana flower curry is best served with phulkas as we like it; but can pair well with rice too. There are 2 things which make this already tasty veggie a tad bit more tastier – grated coconut which add a sweet richness and cooked black chana which add some earthy crunch. This dish requires a little bit more oil since the mocha or banana flower soaks up a lot of oil – so yeah, it’s not a too diet friendly dish; but given the effort involved in it, it will appear at your dinner table not more than once a month for sure! So, you can happily enjoy this curry occasionally without worrying much about the calorie. Additionally, the benefit you get from banana flower is worthy of note – as we know banana is a rich source of iron and so is banana flower with actually a higher content of iron than the banana fruit itself.
But if you ask me, I don’t care about the health benefit or worry much about calorie it brings because I am too fond of this mochar ghonto and can’t deprive myself from enjoying this deliciousness for whatever reason! If you are a Bengali, I am sure you already share the same emotion as me; but if not, I would really urge you to try this Bengali delicacy out, you will surely thank me later for introducing you to this spectacular mochar ghonto!
- Mocha / banana flower – 2
- Potatoes – 2, cut into ½ inch cubes
- Black chana – ¼ cup
- Fresh coconut – ½, grated (about 1 cup freshly grated coconut)
- Cloves – 5 to 6
- Green cardamom – 5 to 6
- Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece, broken
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Ginger paste – 1 tsp
- Cumin powder – 3 tsp
- Kashmiri red chili powder – 1 tsp (Use ½ tsp if using regular chili powder)
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Mustard oil – 4 tbsp
- Ghee – 2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Soak the black chana overnight. Next day before cooking boil the chana until soft. Set them aside.
- Cleaning the banana flower or mocha requires some technical training which is best provided by our moms, but I will try to explain as best as I possibly can. Inside the big boat like leaves, there are bunch of flowers. From each floret, you need to discard the outer shell and the stiff stick-like strand with a tiny bulb at the top as they are not edible. Once you discard those inedible parts, immerse the rest florets in cold water while you continue cleaning the remaining bunches. This will avoid the blackening of the florets. [See Notes below.]
- Once all the bunches are cleaned, wash them thoroughly and finely chop them. It is advised to smear some oil on your palms while you chop the florets to avoid the sticky after-effect.
- Pressure cook the chopped banana flowers until 3 whistles blow. Let the pressure cooker cool down and release all the pressure. Then drain the cooked banana florets and set aside on a colander to let the excess water drip off.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of mustard oil in a kadhai/wok. Add the potato cubes to the hot oil and fry them until golden brown on all sides – about 10 minutes on medium-low flame. Take them out and set aside.
- Add half a tablespoon of mustard oil to the kadhai and add the cooked chana to it. Sauté them quickly for couple of minutes, then take them out and set aside.
- Add another half a tablespoon of mustard oil to the kadhai and add the grated coconut to it. Sauté them on low until they turn light golden and all the moisture is absorbed – about 10 minutes. Then take them out and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the wok. Once the oil is hot, temper it with cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. Sauté them for a minute until they become fragrant.
- Make a smooth spice paste by adding ginger paste, turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chili powder and sugar to a small bowl and mixing them with ¼ cup of water. Whisk it thoroughly to avoid any lumps.
- Once the whole spices start to crackle, add the spice paste to the kadhai. Sauté the spice paste on medium flame until the oil starts to release – about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Next add the fried chana, cooked banana florets and fried potato cubes. Stir them well to combine and sauté on medium-low flame until the cooked banana florets are all well-coated with the spice mix. If the veggies/spices start to stick to the bottom of the kadhai, add about ½ cup of water and stir well.
- Next add the sautéed coconut and stir them in thoroughly. Season it with salt to taste. Cook them on medium-low until all the water dries up.
- Finally drizzle the ghee and sprinkle garam masala. Mix well. Serve the hot mochar ghonto with phulka or rice. Enjoy!