The banana plant is an omnipresent entity in our Bengali culture. Use of banana leaf and plant is considered auspicious in our culture. Traditionally guests were served food on banana leaf.
The mythological stories and concepts of Kola bau are interesting and intriguing. Kola bau is considered one of the cohorts of Lord Ganesha. During the Durga Puja festival, the entire tableau of Maa Durga will have one tender, lissom banana plant, wrapped in a red on white bordered saree, placed next to Lord Ganesha.
It is a common saying among Bengalis about a banana plant –
Mochar Ghonto is another quintessential traditionally Bengali preparation. Cleaning and cooking may seem time consuming, which it is, but the end result worth the hard work. It is an ultimate Bengali exotic food. Mochar Chop is well known exotic delicacy served in quality restaurants of Kolkata and suburbs.
There are innumerable long-cut and short -cut ways to make Mochar Ghonto, I, obviously took the long-cut 😉 😀 and made this with freshly made ‘dal boras’ – lentil fritters.
Here’s what i did………….
For the ghonto :
2 cups – chopped banana blossom florets/ mocha
1/2 cup – finely chopped fresh coconut
1 tsp – ginger paste
1 tsp – cumin powder
1 tsp – red chili powder
1 tsp – tumeric powder
1/2 tsp – coriander powder
2 1/2 tsp – sugar / jaggery
1/2 tsp – garam masala (Indian spice mix)
1 nos – bay leaf
1 stick – cinnamon
1/4 tsp – cumin seeds
1 tbsp – vegetable oil
1 tsp – clarified butter / ghee
1/2 cup – water (optional)
salt to taste
For the dal boras/ lentil fritters :
1 tbsp – split bengal gram (soaked overnight)
1 nos – green chili
pinch of salt
oil to fry
How to peel and clean the banana blossom :
Preparing to peel and clean the blossom is an art and will approximately take around 45 mins. 😉 . Grease your hands with some mustard oil or any other cooking oil. This will help to avoid staining your fingers. Grease the knife to be used for chopping.
Peel the bracts away from the flower. It will reveal the florets inside.
These florets are nothing but baby bananas. Gently extract the florets and discard the purple bract. Follow the same till you reach the core where the bract will be more intact and pale yellow in color. Stop peeling at that stage. Keep the core aside for chopping later.
To clean the floret, peel away the translucent casing on the right hand, as shown in the picture, and the central stamen.
On the right is the casing and the central stamen which should be removed.
To clean those florets it took me around 40 mins. Take half filled pan or a medium sized bowl of water, add 1 tsp tumeric, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp yogurt or buttermilk. Once this is done, finely chop the florets and previously peeled core of the blossom and immediately immerse them in the prepared water. This will take away the maximum bitterness of the florets.
To make the ghonto :
Keep them soaked for an hour. Drain the florets and pressure cook them to two whistle. Keep aside.
Finely chop the fresh coconut.
Grind the Bengal gram with green chili to a coarse paste.
Add some salt. ( Not too much or else the overall ghonto will become too salty)
Heat oil in a wok or pan and fry in small bite sized fritters. Keep aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a separate medium sized pan and fry the chopped coconut to light brown. Take the coconut out and keep aside.
In the remaining oil, temper with bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds. Drain the steamed florets and add. Add the ginger paste and all the dry spices, except garam masala. Stir well. Add the sugar/ jaggery and salt to taste. Cover and cook over low flame for 10 mins.
Uncover and add the fried coconut and fritters. Sprinkle some water, if needed. Check for salt and sugar. Cover and cook for another 6- 7 mins.
Maximum moisture will have been absorbed by the fritters making them soft. Add the garam masala and the clarified butter. Give it a good stir and take it off fire.
Serve hot with plain boiled rice.
Happy cooking !! 🙂
Cheers !! 😀