Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bangali mochaar ghonto

Here is my contribution for JFI Bananas from my very nascent food blog!

The banana plant is one of the most useful plants from the eating point of view . Just think of it - one uses every part of the plant and for multifarious purposes . A much loved plant in Bengal, it also serves as Ganesha's wife during Durga Puja . The "kola bou" is bathed and washed very early on Saptami morning and clad in a red bordered sari, placed next to the rotund little god.You can see her standing next to Ganesha in the picture .

In Bengal the various parts of the plant that are used as food are the fruits of course, the flower and the stem. The leaves are used for serving food and also used to wrap up fillets of bhekti for paturi or for steaming hilsa in mustard .My husband Ag has often been known to come back from the market with the entire plant - cut up of course , into its various parts and the cook can protest till the cows come home but AG will have his pound of flesh where the banana plant is concerned !

The stem or "thhor" is used to make thhor chnechhki or chapor ghonto . In the first recipe , the step is chopped very fine and fried with a tempering of nigella seeds and red chillies . The second is more elaborate and calls for diced wax gourd,aubergine and small daal chapors made with ground chholar dal , pressed to flat cakes and shallow fried . Then with a tempering of Bengali paanch phoron or five spices and bay leaves cooked over low heat tastes delicious .

I would say that banana flower or mocha is the tastiest part of the plant and has always been a favourtite vegetable with us . I can still taste my Ma's mochaar ghonto and mochaar chop. The trickiest part is to cut the vegetable though and you have to be careful about keeping the wanted parts and throwing out the unwanted parts .

Ingredients :-

Mocha cut fine
Potatoes diced small
Grated coconut
Red chana soaked overnight
Bay leaf
Cumin - 2 teaspoons, Turmeric and chilli powder - 1 teaspoon- made into a paste
Cumin seeds for seasoning .
Mustard oil.
Ghee / Powdered Bangla garam masala or powdered cinnamon,clove and cardamom- half teaspoon.

Steam the mocha and keep aside . Fry the diced potatoes and keep aside . Heat oil till smoking point and do the seasoning with bay leaf and whole cumin seeds . Add the masala paste and fry till the oil separates . Add the potatoes and cook till tender . Add the mocha , chana and grated coconut , salt and a little sugar for taste ( my ma in law BRG would kill me if she knew this )and cook till tender . Before removing add a teaspoon of ghee and garam masala. Serve with steamed rice .