Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Mochar ghonto – a quintessential Bengali recipe

with 63 comments

Flower on a banana plant

Flower on a banana plant

Mocha or banana flower is one of the more complex Bengali cooking but it brings out the flavors of rural Bengal – fields of paddy, fresh rain on dry earth, and the green smell of ponds…..

On a recent visit to Delhi, had some mocha chops at My Calcutta restaurant. So, inspite of its robust flavors, it is not merely the terrain of a home cook. Once the basic prep method is complete, it can be moulded into various forms – chops, kofta curry etc.

In US, banana flowers can be purchased from Indian and Mexican grocery stores in Bay Area. The first step in prep is the hardest.  Peel the purple layers of the Banana flower to expose the banana blossoms. For each blossom, pull down the stamen. This will pull a translucent skin alongwith. Remove the stamen and the skin from the blossom and drop the blossom is a large bowl of water.

Banana blossom after peeling away the purple skin

Banana blossom after peeling away the purple skin

Extracting the blossoms

Extracting the blossoms

Exposed translucent skin and stamen - remove

Exposed translucent skin and stamen - remove

When the blossom becomes very small, it won’t be feasible to carry on with this removal step. For these small blossoms, use whole. When the flower is fresh, these blossoms are cream colored. As they lay around, they get oxidized and get dark. Your fingers may get a little sticky during this process – use a little vegetable oil to clean your hands if necessary.

Rinse the blossoms clean, pulse through food processor. In a pressure cooker, add 3/4 cup water, the chopped blossoms, 1 tsp curcumin and 1 tsp of salt. Close pressure cooker, place on high heat. Once it reaches full pressure, reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 7-8 min. Take off the heat. Let cool. Use a strainer to drain off the water. Gently squeeze the cooked blossoms – you don’t want to make a paste, just make them clump a little.

Ingredients (serves 4 generous portions):

  • 1 cup raw ground coconut (available in frozen section of Asian grocery stores)
  • 1 cup 2% milk (Lactose free if necessary)
  • Aromatic spices  – Ground together seeds from 5  green cardamom pods, 5 cloves and a 1 inch bark of Ceylon “True” cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp mustard oil
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 1 Idaho potato, skinned and chopped in 1 cm blocks
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Mix coconut and milk. Cannot be substituted with coconut milk – you will lose the crunchiness coming from ground coconut. Set aside.

Heat the mustard oil until smoking. Reduce to medium. Add bay leaves and cumin seeds. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry for a few minutes. Add the potato cubes and toss until golden brown. Mix the cooked blossoms. Fry gently for a few minutes.

Now add the coconut and milk mixture. Mix gently, add salt and red pepper and cook until the potatoes are cooked through and the liquid evaporates. You may need to control moisture and heat content by increasing the flame (or closing the lid and reducing heat) if potatoes are cooking quickly (or taking longer to cook). At the end, add the aromatic spice blend, toss and switch off the flame. Serve hot with chopped coriander leaves – excellent with chappati accompanied by daal and raita.

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Written by Som

June 4, 2010 at 7:50 am

63 Responses

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  1. I love bunana flower recipe. My mother used to cook it with fish and coconut milk when I was young. This recipe looks really good. I can’t wait to try it.

    Tes

    June 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

  2. Interesting, because we use them as meals here as well.
    Thanks for sharing

    Lulu

    June 4, 2010 at 9:36 am

  3. This is very interesting stuff

    Gourmet Gorman

    June 4, 2010 at 9:59 am

  4. […] the original post: Mochar’s ghonto – a quintessential Bengali recipe Share and […]

  5. Creative stuff. I have never had anything like that to eat before.

    Slamdunk

    June 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

  6. Here is a perfect example of the phrase – “You learn something new every day”. I didn’t even know Banana’s had flowers, let alone you could cook something with them. cool. I doubt I could ever acquire one of these in my area – however, thanks for expanding my mind today. Also, congrats on making Freshly Pressed – Cheers, Mo

    MoSop

    June 4, 2010 at 10:18 am

  7. Okay…sometimes I miss the big city. I used to be able to shop at Asian markets where I could get these. No such luck now! Oh well still a heck of a lot better than 10 yrs ago. Now I can get Bird Peppers only and hour away! Sounds totally good and if I can ever get ingredients I’m going to cook my brains out!

    lnorbury

    June 4, 2010 at 10:23 am

  8. […] Thanks for teaching me something new, Naan Therapy. Mocha or banana flower is one of the more complex Bengali cooking but it brings out the flavors of rural Bengal – fields of paddy, fresh rain on dry earth, and the green smell of ponds….. On a recent visit to Delhi, had some mocha chops at My Calcutta restaurant. So, inspite of its robust flavors, it is not merely the terrain of a home cook. Once the bas … Read More […]

  9. I wish we could find banana blossoms in the Hudson Valley Area!

    Ira Weiss

    June 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

  10. Being a Bengali myself I never heard or tried out this, but now that I do I ought to try it out once. Good post.

    Mahfooz Hasan

    June 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  11. love this banana blossom flower ghonto..your recipe sounds delicious…thanks for sharing this!

    incidentalcooksuman

    June 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm

  12. This is incredible! Only the other day, I was thinking of the banana plants growing in our backyard in India, and the curry my mother prepared with the banana blossoms and another with the main trunk of the banana plant, all stripped and minced and hardly recognizable. I was always amazed at how beautiful the maroon topedo-shaped flower looked as it hung from the cluster of banana leaves. Thank you for wonderful images of the flower and the blossoms. The taste was rather unique, and I remember how just cutting the blossoms and the stem blackened my mother’s palms unless she rubbed her hands with some sesame oil before handling them—gosh, I just noticed you mentioned this too… Although your recipes are quite different from what my mother prepared, you brought back wonderful memories of my past, and the banana grove at my home. Thank you…

    Pushpa MacFarlane

    June 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    • You know, in India every family has a variation of a recipe. So everyone makes it slightly differently. And that makes it fun.

      I am re-inventing traditional dishes to make them the way mother’s dishes taste like – but updated with less fat, and fresher flavors.

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 9:11 am

  13. my mom used to cook it too. But she never use the fresh banana flower. She used to buy the one which already been dried and then cook it as chinesse food.

    it did bring a nice taste, a little bit sour but good.

    nice post 😉

    metalia

    June 4, 2010 at 7:56 pm

  14. Nice. or I should say ‘beautiful’! Love the recipe. Why don’t you upload cooking podcasts? I guess your readers would love that. And you’ve a great taste of cooking too!

    jakyastikpress

    June 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

  15. This sounds really good. I’ll see if I can get the ingredients!

    catastrophicwhitelight

    June 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm

  16. fist time i am hearing that we can make curry out of that.In keralla we uses all the parts of banana plant.we make a dry curry with coconut and onion.(in malayalam it is called thoran,In tamil it is callled poriyall).the inside part of the plant there is tube like thing .If we crush it in a mixi and take the juice it is good to dissolve all type of stones.that alsowe can use for cooking .we make rasam with that.
    Cooked banana flower eaten with curd is considered an effective medicine for menstrual disorders like painful menstruation and excessive bleeding. Banana flower helps increase progesterone hormone which reduces the bleeding.

    if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster

    latha nair

    June 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    • Bengalis use banana stem as well – we call is thor.

      Unfortunately, I have yet to see that in Bay Area. It is sliced and the fiber between the slices are taken out. The slices are then chopped and stir fired with spices. It it crunchy unlike this one.

      Banana plants grows everywhere in Bengal so I guess we have figured out how to use of all its parts. For example, we use banana leaves to make packages and steam fish in them.

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 8:46 am

  17. You can also get the banana flowers in a jar at thai grocery stores. We make salad, very very delicious.

    C.vivatrat

    June 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm

  18. i didnt know that we can make salad with that.i saw in the chinese grocery the banana flower.yamks for sharing

    latha nair

    June 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  19. Oh that would be excellent to use in a salad! Thanks for the tip!!

    sayitinasong

    June 5, 2010 at 12:38 am

  20. Wow! This recipe looks and sounds amazing…I might try this one out.

    generationfood

    June 5, 2010 at 5:16 am

  21. This sounds amazing, I wish I could buy these in China…
    Do you have a pic of the finished recipe?

    Darn it, I shouldn’t be looking at food blogs when I’m hungry, but have no food, because I need to go food shopping.
    =^..^=

    xiaomoogle

    June 5, 2010 at 5:28 am

    • Sorry, I get a little impatient by the time I hit the final end product – it is usually chow down time. 🙂

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 8:41 am

  22. I am from the Caribbean and there is no no tradition of eating any part of the banana plant that I am aware of…except for the fruits of course.
    This post has sparked my imagination for creating my own Creole version…that is what we do in the islands…change food to suit our taste. LOL
    Thanks for sharing!

    wentworks

    June 5, 2010 at 5:49 am

    • Bengalis add tiny fried shrimp to many of their vegetable dishes. Shrimp and coconut also go together. So, if there is a seafood based inspiration you are thinking of, it may really work well.

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 8:40 am

  23. Like a wonderous thanks- I loved it when mom prepared it for me.. I didn’t know how to, so never. Very soon, I am gonna prepare a big bowl for myself..
    I’ll post that once I do..
    🙂

    Olivia

    June 5, 2010 at 6:30 am

  24. I wish I had known about this back when I had bananas growing my backyard. But better late than never. Thanks for the blossom idea and recipe.

    Mish

    June 5, 2010 at 7:42 am

  25. wow! this recipe looks ands sounds amazing…..I might try this one out

  26. My dad is a sucker for mochar ghonto, but not sure if my mom makes it the same way. Will definitely make her read it. 🙂

    Sanchari Sur

    June 5, 2010 at 9:00 am

  27. […] Mochar’s ghonto – a quintessential Bengali recipe « Naan Therapy Posted on June 5, 2010 by economiesofblogging Mochar’s ghonto – a quintessential Bengali recipe « Naan Therapy. […]

  28. My mother cooked it once or twice. She stopped cooking after I complained that I dont like the taste. We used to consume it more like medicine as it is supposedly good for health.

    I will give her this recipe and hope it comes out well.

    rohitmaiya

    June 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm

  29. I would have loved to see pics of Muri Ghonto.. Off with the fish’s head

    puntonpiper

    June 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    • I did make fish head ghoto from fresh fish head procured from my local Bay Area farmer’s market. It came out damn close to what mom makes. Loved it. But it was the first time and I didn’t take pictures. Will do next time I feel adventurous and post.

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 8:36 am

  30. Just a short observation. Bengalis call it Mochar Ghonto, not Mochar’s Ghonto. The reason is that “Mochar = Mocha + ar” and “ar” means the same thing as an apostrophe “s”. Also, the ghonto made from fresh banana flowers is called “garbho mocha”, the word “garbho” meaning the “womb” of course. The expression is somewhat cruel.

    It’s great to see you publicising this Bengali delicacy across the world. Thanks.

    dipankardasgupta

    June 5, 2010 at 11:21 pm

  31. i am still in India,kerala. i can find this flower in back yard……. 🙂

    framez

    June 6, 2010 at 1:43 am

    • Of course, there are so many great South Indian recipes with banana as well…let me know what you end up making and how this compares.

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 8:34 am

  32. মোচার ঘন্ট আমার ভালো লাগে না। যদিও, প্রচুর লোকে খুব ত্রিপ্তি করে খান।
    (I dont like mochar ghonto, although many people like it very much)

    phoxis

    June 6, 2010 at 2:40 am

    • They say, bacon fat fixes all vegetables. Maybe Bengalis who don’t like certain vegetables should try this trick…..

      Som

      June 6, 2010 at 8:33 am

  33. I have been fascinated with India since a child. In Canada we have many regions where the best ingredients for Indian cuisine are available. I understand using fresh spices are the only way to understand Indian cuisine…difficult nowadays in this throw away society. I would love to visit flower gardens in India…but i cannot take temperatures over 80 degrees F…. Perhaps i will someday visit during the cool season and hope for dry weather. Thank you for a fascinating post.

    maydelory

    June 6, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    • If you buy whole, i.e. not ground, spices, and keep them in sealed jars they can keep for over a year. And if you experiment with cooking they won’t last all year anyway.

      Som

      June 7, 2010 at 10:14 am

  34. Awesome…..
    I eat “Mocha” usually….
    It’s awesome.

    Offtopic: I’s just going through the top wordpress posts today. The word “Bengali” attracted me. Then i rushed here to read the post. Awesome.

    As a bengali I’m feeling proud.

    Rony Parvej

    June 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

  35. what awesome, fun recipe that i would love to try! unfortunately, over here in the small towns of the appalachian mountains, there is NO opportunity to buy banana flowers…to be honest i had never seen one before! even unsweetened coconut can be hard to find. i’m usually happy with the area i live in, but when it comes to the variety of cuisines, i am oft disappointed!

    Faye

    June 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    • But surely there must be edible flora that are local to such a fertile region as the Appalachians. I think it would be very interesting to dig up old recipes and start experimenting with those.

      Som

      June 7, 2010 at 10:06 am

  36. saygılar. thank you

    Dinisohbet

    June 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm

  37. Thank you for this post, I have seen these but I had no idea what to do with them. Now I am excited to try this recipe.

    robocooker

    June 6, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  38. banana flower! my favourite dish in england and when i’ve been back to bangladesh, love it 🙂

    dizzyalchemist

    June 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

  39. Mochchar Ghanto is hmmm soooooo delicious!!!! When I was in Kolkata, my Bengali friends used to feed me with it lovingly!! I could never have enough of it 🙂 🙂 Nice post!! Thank you!!

    advenpearl

    June 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm

  40. I did not know that banana flower was available for sale. I may experiment with it.

    Stephen Melinger

    June 6, 2010 at 6:49 pm

  41. Aw, man, I’m salivating! I really miss India! Beautiful post.

    cheers,K

    kmariej

    June 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

  42. Well, they say you learn something new every day! You surely do!. Obviously we knew banana trees flowered, but I didn’t realise you could cook with them or buy them! We have two very young banana trees – I can’t wait for them to flower – but we won’t use them for cooking yet. It is still a voyage of discovery to get some bananas!

    Moranna

    June 7, 2010 at 1:52 am

  43. Banana-flower Vada: There is a great south indian (Tamilnadu) recipe to make vada (fritters?) that is made with banana blossoms.

    The blossoms get crisp and acquire a slightly bitter taste (slightly more bitter than how the onion sometimes tastes in onion fritters), and it is one of the most awesome vadas one could eat.

    Murali

    June 7, 2010 at 3:18 am

  44. I would like eat banana so much every day.

    vtrediting

    June 7, 2010 at 6:43 am

  45. Hi, Im from Java Island, Indonesia. Banana Flower was one of our menu.We ussually cooked it with coco milk and “melinjo” (Gnetum gnemon) leaves. It was very unique taste … dressed with “sambal” (javanese chilli sauce) and fried “tempe” (fermented soybean patty) were an ideal side dish of “nasi” (rice). Thanks, good posting.

    amtry

    June 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    • Thanks for sharing that. I don’t think I have seen that dish at any Indonesian restaurants here. Looked up the “melinjo” leaves and they seem a very key component to Indonesian cooking. Next time I am at an Indonesian restaurant, I will look out for these leaves in any dish. My neighbor is Indonesian and she may be able to help me source them.

      Som

      June 29, 2010 at 7:38 am

  46. Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading it. I will be back for more!
    Sincerely,

    Food

    September 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    • the recipi is very very refreshing………nutrilicious too…….thnx

      Abhisikta Nag

      May 24, 2012 at 3:44 am

  47. I tried your recipe ..it was really yummm….. 🙂

    Sohini

    June 15, 2014 at 9:29 am


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