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.

Mocha r Ghonto -- Banana Blossoms

Buy Mocha

First, search for your favorite show or interesting movie on Netflix. Given your interests, this might take days. There are days when I do nothing but just search Netflix so...

Once you have settled on the movie/show, go to your Indian store and look for a purple hued conical object, which is Mocha aka Banana Blossom. Try to get a good sized one.

Prep Mocha

Back home, make yourself a cup of tea, roll out a newspaper, place chopping board on that paper and turn on the movie/show previously selected on Netflix.

If you have manicured hands, then wear those plastic gloves before chopping Mocha. Wrap the chopping board with cling wrap too if you don't want them stained.
If not wearing gloves you might want to rub mustard oil on your fingers to avoid staining when you are pinching out the stigma from the flowers.

Now follow the video to chop the banana blossoms. 
First peel the thick purple outer petals which have a velvety texture
You will see the tiny banana blossoms nestled inside. 
Each of these has a matchstick like pistil with an inedible stigma, that looks like a  matchstick head which you have to pinch out. Attached to that is a white, plastic like scaly petal called calyx in botany, which you have to discard too.
As you peel each of the purple bigger petals, you will find more of the blossoms. Follow the same process at each step

Now stack the cleaned blossoms and chop. Kuchi-Kuchi chop is the way to go.

Soak the chopped blossoms in water with little turmeric powder and salt.

Cook Mocha 

Phase 1

After 2-3 hrs drain the water and steam the blossoms. In a pressure cooker it takes 2-3 whistles. In my Futura Pressure Cooker it takes about 10 minutes.

Once you take the steamed Mocha out of the pressure cooker, squeeze out the excess water and lightly mash the blossoms with your fingers

Meanwhile, chop 1 large potato in small cubes

If you have frozen grated coconut, defrost it and pulse it further in your food processor until it is finely grated. If you have fresh coconut grate it whichever way you wish.

Boil Kala Chana and keep ready.

Phase 2

Now heat Mustard Oil to smoking

Temper the oil with
2 Bay Leaf
2 small cardamom
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4th tsp of Cumin Seeds
2 Dry Red Chilies

Add the potatoes. Fry the potatoes until golden.

Add the boiled kala chana.

Mix these spices with a little water
1 Tbsp grated Ginger
2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red Chili Powder

Add the above spice paste and sauté for a few minutes.

Next add the steamed banana blossoms and sauté for 4-5 minutes

Add the following
salt to taste

Sprinkle a little water and mix. Cover and cook until the potatoes are done. Remove the cover intermittently to check that all vegetables are cooked.

Once the potatoes are cooked, add 
the grated coconut.
2 tsp of sugar (more or less sugar depending on how sweet you like the dish)

Sauté for 4-5 minutes and finish off with some Ghee

Adjust salt and sugar according to taste

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