Mocha- is pronounced at ‘mo – cha’ and not like cafe mocha. In English, it is called banana blossom – the flower of the banana plant. Mochar ghonto is a traditional Bengali recipe that is much loved across all seasons. Banana blossom is finely chopped and cooked without any onion and garlic with minimal spices into a rich and delicious pure vegetarian delight.
How to clean and cut mocha or banana blossom?
Cleaning and prepping banana blossoms is a tedious and time-consuming affair. The first time is quite daunting. However, once you get the hang of it, the only bothersome thing is the time. If you have help at home, you are blessed with this. Take a bowl of mustard oil or any other oil before starting. Grease your palm with the oil. Then start by peeling off the outer skin one by one. Each leaf or petal comes with white to yellow coloured stalks. They look like baby bananas that have peeled.
Remove the stalks from the stem and keep them stacked. Repeat the process till you have reached there aren’t any more purple/maroon petals. You have now reached the heart of the banana flower and trust me, this is edible too. It’s a different preparation for another time. Now each stalk has a mellow purple to the yellow casing or the calyx that you have to remove and discard. Inside there are thin stalks and one single pistil that is hard and comes with a round top. Remove that and discard. Rest of the stalks (about 5 in each), finely chop them. After that keep the chopped flowers in a bowl of water.
You must ensure that your palm is greased with mustard oil at all times. Even the knife that you chop with, grease it with oil.
There are several ways to cook Mochar ghonto
Mochar ghonto can be cooked in different ways. I have seen my mother cook it without any potatoes. Whereas, I love adding potatoes cut into small squares. Our entire family cannot do with potatoes and my man Friday is another story. Ashok adds so many potatoes to increase the volume that at times, potatoes are more than the mocha. You can also add boiled Bengal gram. It adds a fantastic texture. Grated coconut is a must for mochar ghonto.
Did you know that mocha is believed to be inauspicious for any wedding or puja? Hence, mochar ghonto is never on a wedding menu or an annaprashan menu, Some homes don’t consume mocha on Saturdays.
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Mochar Ghonto - Banana Blossom Stir Fry
- 1 no banana flower or mocha
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 large potato optional
- ½ cup boiled Bengal gram
- 1 no dried bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 nos dried red chillies
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp red chilli powder optional
- ¼ tsp Bengali garam masala recipe link in the main text
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- ½ cup freshly grated coconut
- salt to taste
- Prepare the banana blossom as instructed in the main text. Wash thoroughly under running water and then add salt and turmeric powder to the mocha.
- Transfer everything to a pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the banana blossoms and then close the lid and pressure cook it for 6-8 mins or 1 whistle. Alternatively, you can also boil it with water in a sauce pan till the banana blossoms have softened
- Peel the potato and cut it into very small cubes.
- Once done, squeeze out all the water and yuor banana blossom is ready to be cooked In a kadhai or a wok, heat mustard oil and temper it with dried red chili, bay leaf and then cumin seeds.
- If you are using potatoes, add the chopped potatoes to the oil at this point.
- Stir fry on high heat for a couple of minutes and then lower the heat, cover and let the potatoes cook. Once the potatoes are half cooked add the banana blossoms.
- Add cummin powder and red chili powder and give eveything a good mix.
- Add the freshly grated ginger also to this
- Now keep stirring and cooking until everythung has come togetehr and the potatoes have become soft.
- Mix the boiled Bengal gram, add sugar, adjust salt and finally add ghee and garam masala.
- Add freshly grated coconut and take it off heat
- Serve Mochar Ghonto with steamed rice.