When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. # John Ruskin
Like this classic Bengali dish – mochar ghonto. A very old, ethnic and traditional recipe, since time immemorial when Bengal was not invaded with foreign flavours. Stir fried banana blossoms with grated coconut that is so staple in Bengali food once upon a time, scented with cumin seeds and bay leaves. So earthy, so exotic, so graceful and so elegant. Off course potatoes are ubiquitous everywhere, a strong imprint of first European colonists that is so hard to brush off.
Masterpiece recipes are difficult to recreate, it is that delicate balance of flavor, taste and texture that we all strive to achieve in cooking or in art and also in life. Mochar ghonto is one such classic dish from Bengali cuisine, repertoire of few but loved by many if not all. Though I am yet to come across a person who does not love this dish. Mochar ghonto or banana blossom stir fry is unanimously the star of any lunch menu, yet it is so elusive.
Mochar ghonto can be prepared in both veg and non-veg ways. Some like it with shrimps including me, others use simply coconut and desi chickpea or chola (kala chana). I have prepared a vegetarian version of it, though secretly I love the shrimp version more.
Long and tedious process of prep work deters many to prepare this classic dish at home. The process of collecting the blossoms, chopping, cleaning etc takes time and couple of years back I have documented them in my old post of Mochar chop. Please refer back to that post for your easy understanding, if you are not familiar with this.
Like all Bengali vegetarian dishes, Mochar ghonto too is pure veg recipe sans any onions or garlic. Even though it can gleefully accommodate prawns or shrimps, only the small ones but onions and garlic are strict no-no.
- 1 : Banana Blossom
- ½ cup : Shredded coconut
- ½ cup : Roasted desi chickpeas or peanuts or shrimps (if you are using it)
- 1 : Potato (medium, peeled and cubed into small bite size)
- 1 or 2 Bay leaf
- 1 Cinnamon sticks
- 2-3 Green cardamom
- 3-4 Cloves
- 1 tsp : Cumin powder
- A pinch of chilli powder
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp : Sugar (or less according to taste)
- 2 tbsp : Ghee (clarified butter)
- Turmeric water or lemon to remove the bitterness
- After collecting the blossoms, chop them very finely.
- Cut the inner white cone into quarter and chop it very finely.
- Heat the water in a deep bottom vessel and add the chopped banana blossoms.
- Sprinkle some salt and turmeric water or juice of lemon and stir it.
- Let it boil for few minutes until the blossoms are soft enough.
- Drain it on a mesh colander and run cold water over it.
- Squeeze out the water from the blossoms. It should be dry enough.
- Heat ghee in a pan and throw in some cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Fry the potatoes till they start showing some brown hues.
- Add the dried banana blossoms, desi chickpeas or peanuts (whichever you are using).
- Stir fry them on high heat for 3 minutes. Add the shredded coconut, cumin powder, red chilli powder (if using) and saute them for a while.
- Sprinkle salt and sugar to taste.
- Cover, simmer on low heat till potatoes are tender.
- Add few drops of ghee, check the seasonings and serve hot with steamed rice.
Have a great weekend