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MOCHAR GHONTO: Banana Blossoms cooked with Prawns !!

I have never been a fan of Andrew Zimmern's episodes in India for Bizarre Foods, except for his Kolkata episode. And the only reason I liked that particular episode was because it featured two of my favorites being cooked up and served on the show: 'Mochar Ghonto,' and 'Thor er Ghonto ', at a favorite resturant of mine: Oh! Calcutta !! For the uninitiated, Mocha refers to Banana Blossom, in simple terms. For the Bongs, every part of the Banana tree serves a culinary purpose. The Banana, eaten when ripe, or Green Plantains, are boiled and cooked in a gravy, called Kanch Kolar Kofta(almost akin to a meatball gravy).The stem of the Banana tree is chopped up, and cooked, with some soaked grams or prawns and is called 'Thor er Ghonto '.  The leaves of the Banana Tree are used to steam and cook a fish dish, known as Paturi . Hence all in all, the whole tree, finds its way into the Bong kitchen !!

Coming back to Mocha or the Banana Blossom: The inflorescence of the banana tree, is cleaned and chopped and cooked to perfection, to please the Bong soul, in a very special way. A handful of prawns thrown in, and some shredded fresh coconut, complete the party. Banana Blossom becomes Mochar Ghonto. Its quite a regular feature at the menus of all popular Bengali restaurants across India. Although I sincerely feel, that my Ma's Mochar Ghonto, can give the Oh! Calcutta one, a run for its money any day. The way she cooks Mochar Ghonto, will make you make it, with almost a plateful of rice, giving every other course a miss.Me and Bhai do not bother about chicken or Mutton, when Ma makes Mochar Ghonto.

Mochar Ghonto !! Whenever, I used to mention this, in the local Bong circuit, I used to get blank stares or even stares of disbelief from some. The idea, in the local Bong circuit, was that, who would go through that trouble, just for one meal. Well, now that is something I somehow could not relate to. For me, how could a Bong go without their share of Mocha for a long time. I am always game for cleaning and prep work, if the end result is something as lip smacking as  Mochar Ghonto ! Since I have taught Hubby dearest how to do the cleaning bit, Mocha has even become more regular at our household. We both love Mocha and delegation of duties helps it being a more regular feature on the monthly menu in our household.


Mochar Ghonto is also cooked Niramish or as a vegetarian dish, at times, in some households. While making a vegetarian version, some just stick to shredded coconut, some use boiled gram, while some make some pakoras from red lentils. I am a die-hard Aamish(Non-veg) person, hence for me, my Mochar Ghonto, always has some prawns or shrimps thrown in.  Our local Indian stores and also the Chinese stores, stock on some fresh Mocha. So every now and then, I pick up a couple. Mocha, like Spinach, as a problem of reducing in quantity once its cooked. Moreover, never get fooled by the size of the Mocha or the Banana Blossom itself,as half of it is discarded as inedible and bitter parts! So if you are a Mocha lover, like me, make sure you always pick up a couple. Never hurts to have a lil more to munch on.

MOCHAR GHONTO: Banana Blossoms cooked with Prawns and Coconut : 

Ingredients: 
Mocha/Banana Blossom: 2
Shredded Coconut(Fresh and Frozen): 3 tbsp
Prawns: A Handful
Potato: 2 medium sized ones, diced.
Bay Leaves: 2
Cumin Powder: 1 tsp
Ginger paste: 1tbsp
Salt
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder: 1/2 tsp
Mustard Oil

Procedure: 

Clean and prep the Mocha:
Before you start cleaning the Mocha, take some mustard oil, in a small bowl, and rub your palms well with it. This will prevent staining from the mocha.
Remove a violet leaves of the Mocha one by one, and take out the flowers from within. Every flower has a small transparent cover sort of thing at its base and a string like part with a rounded top, or  a bulb like top. Both these parts need to be removed, as they are inedible, and bitter. Cleaning Mocha usually takes some time, so you can do it a day in advance, maybe while watching your favorite soap !

Chop the cleaned florets and boil them with turmeric powder and a pinch of salt. I usually use my pressure cooker, and give around 2 whistles. Once the steam has released, then discard the water. Knead or Mash the boiled and chopped florets, and keep aside.

In a non stick pan, add in the diced potatoes and some turmeric and let them caramelise around the edges.

Add in the prawns next and let them get some colour !!

Add in the mashed Mocha, along with the bay leaves, ginger paste, cumin powder, red chili powder and mix well. Check for seasonings, and add more salt if needed. Mix well.


Cover and cook for around 5-7 minutes,and then add in the shredded coconut. Mix well.

Cook covered till the potatoes are cooked. It is a dry dish.

Serve with some hot steamed Basmati rice !!

Bon Appetit !!! 

4 comments

  1. Tks Keka !!! do give it a try and lemme know how it was !!

    ReplyDelete
  2. simply awesome..ei jatra ar ranna kara hob-e na! Now trying to read all your postings..let me have a virtual feast at least, before i vanish into the deserts.

    ReplyDelete
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