Banana flower or ‘Mocha’ can be turned into a fascinating vegetarian dish, a torch bearer of age old traditional Bengali recipes. As they say, ‘as you sow so you reap’, the super delicious Mocha curry does not come easy, one has to toil hard to achieve it. That is perhaps the reason you do not see the dry banana flower aplenty in the market these days. You do not also expect to prepare it too often. More than the time it requires to get cooked, sorting the flowers and picking the stem is a trickier job. However, the effort seems worthy of every pence when the curry is served with white steamed rice. I feel extremely proud to share with you the recipe 😀
Ingredients to serve 8-10 :
- Banana flower/blossom (Mocha) – 1
- Potato – 2 (cut into small cubes)
- Green chilli – 2-3
- Lentil dumpling (Bori) – 10-12
- Ginger paste – 1½ tbspoon
- Tamarind pulp – 2-3 tbspoon (optional)
- Cumin seed – ½ teaspoon
- Bay leaf – 2
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 2 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
- Garam masala powder – ½ teaspoon
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 4-5 tbspoon
Cleaning and chopping the banana flower :
- Grease your hand with oil to avoid staining caused by sticky sap, coming out from banana flower while cutting.
- Start opening the reddish outer leaves (bracts) one by one. Beneath each leaf, a group of long pale yellow flowers will be found.
- As one goes on peeling the leaves off, they will get softer and paler in colour and the flowers will get smaller.
- Keep peeling until the white yellow, bulb like flower heart is reached. Collect the flowers and discard the leaves.
- Now open each flower by gently rubbing the end of it in between fingers and push the petals back. Pull the feathery plastic like petal back and observe the matchstick like stem inside the flower. Discard both of them.
- The flowers closer to the heart will get smaller and smaller and will get harder and harder to clean. When they can’t be cleaned anymore, just separate the flowers.
- Chop the flowers and the whitish yellow heart (after removing the hard end).
- Keep them in cold, salted water until needed, as they get discoloured quickly.
Making the curry :
Drain the water, squeeze and then pressure cook the chopped banana flower with salt, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and 2-3 cups of water till almost done (approx. 8-10 whistle will be needed).
Let it cool, again squeeze and discard excess water, if any.
Add ginger paste, remaining turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, tamarind pulp, sugar and salt to the cooked banana flower. Mix all the ingredients very well with hand.
Heat oil in a frying pan or kadai over medium flame.
Fry the lentil dumplings (bori) till golden brown and keep aside.
Add cumin seeds and bay leaf in the remaining oil, saute for a while.
Add potato cubes and fry till half done.
Add the banana flower mixture, green chillies and ½ cup of water, mix well.
Cover the pan and let it cook over low to medium flame till the potato gets cooked.
Uncover the pan, add fried lentil dumplings (crush them a bit), raise the flame and cook till all the water dries up and oil separates from the mixture.
Sprinkle over the ghee & garam masala powder, give them a good stir.
Again cover the pan and give it a standing time for couple of minutes.
Serve with steamed rice.