Thursday, January 12, 2023

Ma er Mocha'r Ghonto

Mocha r Ghonto, Banana Blossom Curry

Mocha r Ghonto | Banana Blossom Curry

Mocha, banana blossoms is a favorite vegetable in Bengal. The flowers of the Banana tree, Mocha, often served as Mochar Ghonto, Mocha r Paturi or Mochar Chop represent the very pinnacle of niramish Bengali ranna. The most complex part of this dish is not the cooking. It is prepping the blossoms and getting them ready that is a tedious process. Here I have created a video and shared a recipe of my Mother's Mocha r Ghonto, a dish that I dare to make only when she visits us

It is almost half way through the first month of 2023 and already I have given up on all my resolutions. So that way I am on track:-p. 

My mother leaves for India by end of the month and I had plans to document and write some of her special recipes which I never cook if I am by myself. I thought it would be a nice mother-daughter project. Instead I spent all my after-work evenings, drinking tea and watching Didi No. 1, Dadagiri and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa with her. I will miss this a lot when she leaves -- a cup of piping hot tea ready every evening, muri chanachur and watching all the Bengali Game shows on TV together. 

I do honestly think, I will cherish this time I spent with her much more than cooking and video recording her recipes.

Mocha r Ghonto, Banana Blossom Curry

Of the few recipes that I did happen to note is MOCHA r Ghonto. Not Moka. but Mocha where ch sounds like chair.

Mocha, banana blossoms is a favorite vegetable in Bengal. In fact in Bengal, a banana plant is much revered. During DurgaPujo, she is the designated wife of Ganesha and lovingly addressed as "KolaBou" and after Pujo, the Banana leaf is used to wrap the Bengali's famous fish and make Ilish Paaturi 

The raw banana is another favorite in Bengali cuisine and kaachakolar kofta is high up in culinary ladders jostling with the likes of kosha mangsho. The tender core of the banana stems, the apparent trunk, is another nutritious vegetable favorite in Bengali cuisine. It is is called "Thor", not the Nordic God, but as impressive. The flowers of the Banana tree, Mocha, often served as Mochar Ghonto or Mochar Chop represent the very pinnacle of niramish Bengali ranna.

Mocha r Ghonto, Banana Blossom Curry

I have no patience to clean and chop Mocha when by myself so this is one thing we eat only when my Mother visits us. You see, chopping Mocha (banana blossom) in the seclusion of your own home, in isolation does not make sense. It needs a community to efficiently peel, remove stamen, and chop Mocha with efficiency and speed. 

My Mother says, these days in Kolkata, you get Mocha peeled and chopped at the local vegetable sellers which is very convenient as in the whole Mocha cooking process, the chopping is the most tedious part. So if you are in Kolkata life is definitely easy for you.

How To Chop Mocha or Banana Blossoms

We got small sized Mocha at our Indian store this time, not very ideal but had no time to go and search in other stores. But try to get a good size Mocha. The best tasting Mocha dish is made from Garbo Mocha which is bigger and the inflorescence is plumper and meatier.

My favorite Mocha dish is Mocha r Ghonto where banana blossoms are cooked with little cubed potatoes, kala chana and grated coconut, Flavored with ghee and gorom moshla this dish has a unique fragrance and tastes delicious with rice.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

A Year in Food - 2022

Beginning of this last week of 2022, I was in a slump. Everything was fine but I was feeling a lack of motivation to do anything at all. I had this feeling that I was always running around and rushing without achieving anything substantial or even enjoying the process.

This is when I saw a blog friend Balaka's post after  along time. I went to her blog to read her Gratitude post but ended up reading again and again this one.  if you are young with a dream to change the world you might find it ridiculous but at this point of my life it touched a chord. I texted her about the post and she told me "Je bhaabe ja hochche...seibhabei ta howar...tai beshi bhebo na". 

Whatever is happening is how it was supposed to happen all along...don't think too much.



I am going into the New Year with a hope of being more accepting. I have absolutely no reign on anything in this universe except may be on my own mind. Rest whatever is happening follows the law of nature and all I can do is trust the Universe to guide me along.

On my part, what I could do is look back and be thankful for the year that was. So for the last two days, I dug through the food photos, and went through them month by month recalling the stories and incidents around them. I skipped all the sad parts, the not-so-great parts and I still had a year worth of delicious food memories.

I hope the same for the next year and the next and I hope the same for you too.

January 2022

When I browsed through my Food Photos, it seems January was the month I cooked most or at least home food was most photographed in this month.

I made Bandhakopir Ghonto with fish head and Sarson da saag with broccoli raabe + spinach.


January Food Photos

February 2022

February saw me buying a lot of  this fish called Branzino from Costco. I made Branzino in the Airfryer with Chettinad spices and then I made Maacher Jhol with Branzino. Like every year, I made Dida'r Gota seddho around Saraswati Pujo. I also made Joynagar er Moa for Saraswati Pujo.

I think I tried the TikTok trend of grated egg sandwich, did not like it and so made a spicy egg salad version and piled it on avocado toast.

For my birthday, my family took me to see Lion King and we had dinner at this Indian restaurant called Saar. The two things I distinctly remember from that restaurant is the Kathal/Jackfruit Biryani and the Shakarkand ki Chaat, both very new and very delicious.

One of my friend cooked a huge meal for me as a birthday treat and another made paayesh, it was so very special.
Feb Food Photos

March 2022

In the later half of this month there was lot of partying, eating out and delicious food. Looks like I didn't cook much or maybe didn't take photos of food I cooked. Loved the birthday cake made by @mybakebar.

I see I made Paurutir Doi Bora, Sabudana Khichdi/Pulao and a donburi bowl meal

April 2022

This was the month, I finally went to India. My original trip was planned for February but that trip had to be canceled and so April was when I finally reached Kolkata.

When I go home, there are few food items I tend to stick to. With little variation, I eat and order the same things every year.  The first meal was no doubt  "Ma er haath er maacher jhol" - a light, soupy fish curry with potatoes and Potol.

I had my usual fare of food ordered from 6 Ballygunge Place, Biryani and Chicken Roll from Shiraz and Momos from Momo I am. This time I  also ordered and loved this Bhetki Fish Fry with bits of shrimp in it aka Bhetki Chingri melbondhon – a bread crumb coated bhetki and prawn filling cutlet, from Koshe Kosha. 

Among the new cafes and restaurants in Salt Lake and New Town area, I loved Verandah cafe where we had a good adda with friends over Aam Pana, Gandharaj Lebu Julep, Chingri r Chop and Mutton kababs...pure blissπŸ₯°. My cousin took me to a cool Vietnamese place with great pho and momos.

At my in-law's place had Bel er Paana after many many years and from my Father's favorite mudi'r dokan I got bakery biscuits flavored with Nigella seeds.

Of the things I cooked this month but posted later , Chicken Yaktori and Chingri Malaikari with the prawns straightened with toothpick, are the two special ones

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Kachki Maach er Charchari

Kechki Maach er Charchari | Small fish like Minnow or white bait cooked with potatoes and eggplant 

Kechki, Kachki or Kaski is a tiny, shimmering like silver fish that is very commonly found in freshwater ponds, streams and rivers of rural Bengal. They are really tiny, even smaller than the mourala fish.  These small fishes have such soft bones that they are cooked and eaten whole. Full of vitamins and nutrients they are very popular both in Bangladesh and West Bengal.

I think these fishes are farmed now days given that their popularity has soared high and export contributes a big chunk to this fishery business.. However when we lived in this small town by the river Ganga where the river swelled and rode high during the rainy season, the river water brimming with small fishes would spill into narrow streams and canals. This is where a variety of tiny fishes and small shrimps were caught by young kids with pieces of a woven cloth cloth called gamcha. Our house help's young boy often joined that crowd and brought back a lot of shrimp and chyala maach.

Here in the US, far from that small town, I get Kechki or Kaski, in Bangladeshi stores. All cleaned, they come in these small packets or trays in the freezer aisle along with a lot of other small and not-so-small fishes. 

The only time I buy and make this Kechki Charchari is when my mom is here. Surprisingly my mother never made anything with Kechki. Mourala was her limit when limit tended to tiny fish. But she loves all kinds of fish and so likes this Charchari.
The husband-man’s home is where all the tiny fish charcharis ruled. Though he is not fond of Rui Kaatla type of fish he likes the Kechki Charchari.
He thinks of his Dida and anxiously reminds me to pour mustard oil generously when I cook it. The last time you air fried the Kechki, the Charchari didn’t taste as good as Dida’s he says.
Of course it didn’t. Nothing tastes as good as nostalgia, glugs of mustard oil and what grandmothers madeπŸ™„.

When I poste this photo on FB earlier this week, I got several great recipe ideas. Sharing some for future use

Soupayan Sarkar We first marinate them with chopped onion, julienned potato, kalo jira, salt and turmeric. Then we quick blanch some large laupata. Then make a small potli of fish wrapped with the laupata. Then those potlis are quickly shallow fried. Tastes heavenly with rice.

Cynthia Nelson Here in the Caribbean we call it Nettley πŸ˜€ it is seasoned with a fresh herb paste that includes lots of hot pepper and some turmeric and fried crisp. It is usually eaten with dhal, rice and some type of fiery achar. Finger-licking good! πŸ˜„

Jayati N
Oh I love this variety.... aam kashundi chorchori....shorshe posto baati chorchori .....dhonepata.kancha.lonka.makha makha ..... tomato.roshun.poda.chatni.type.... pineapple.diye.tok.......narkolbata.shorshe.diye.kumropatay.paturi.... aloo.bodi.diye.patla.jhol.....

Shukla Biswas My girls love this fish, either kora Kore bhaja with daal or bati chochhori with sliced potatoes green chilies and onions,and of course a generous tablespoon of shorsher tel just before turning the stove off.

I made this Kechki Charchari for a bhaiphota lunch few weeks back. Isn't eating a variety of good food is the reason why we have so many festivals right?
I made mostly fish dishes for lunch that day. We started off with Moghlai Parota but then Muri Ghonto, Kechki Charchari, Ilish Bhaape -- was on the lunch menu. Though both my girls are not fond of fish, their "bhaiphota brothers" are true connoisseurs of good food and will happily eat fish. I had added some shrimp, to give the charchari some bite and also to make the charchari more familiar for them. 

Now I don't know how much the brothers liked it, but us, the parents of all the brothers and sisters gorged on the charchari.