Mochar Ghonto: An Eternal Bengali Vegetarian Classic
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Mochar ghonto ( pronounced as mo-char) is a classic delight which is extraordinarily popular among Bengalis. It is a pure Bengali delicacy and one of the most cherished vegetarian traditional Bengali food. Any reputed Bengali restaurant’s menu card is incomplete without it. Mochar Ghonto is a dry curry recipe and is often served along with steaming hot rice and ghee.

It is an old-age traditional Indian dish. The name "mochar" refers to the banana blossom, which is widely cultivated in West Bengal. The banana trees that produce sweet bananas as they mature, produce the best-tasting banana blooms. The greatest vegetarian Bengali dishes mostly use banana blossoms or mochar as a primary component. One of these flavourful dry curries is mochar ghonto.

Bengalis are quite particular about vegetarian cuisine and divide it into two categories. One kind of cuisine is referred to as satvik/niramish food, where masoor dal, onion, and even garlic are forbidden. In another division, normal vegetarian dishes are prepared using onion and garlic. Mochar ghonto is a niramish recipe, which means without onion and garlic recipe, which is ideal for any vegetarian day or puja day, especially during holy Durga puja festival. Therefore, This classic banana flower curry is considered as a must try Bengali veg recipe during holy Durga puja festival.

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Banana Flowers have several health advantages. They contain a significant amount of vitamins and minerals and aid in the prevention of diseases. For nursing women, they are advantageous since it is considered to enhance breast milk. The banana blossom is known as a "happy" flower since it is said to reduce anxiety and improve mood because to the magnesium it contains.

The preparation and peeling of the banana flower takes some time. However, after everything is completed precisely and methodically, the final dish of mochar ghonto prepared in Bengali way is well worth the effort.

Ingredients :

  • 500 g whole mochar (banana blossom)
  • 100 g potatoes
  • ‍25 g mustard oil
  • ‍2 pcs dried red chillies‍
  • 1 clove‍
  • 1 cardamom‍
  • 1 cinnamon‍
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ‍20 g grated coconut
  • 4 green chillies
  • 20 g ginger paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 g cumin powder
  • ‍20 g salt (total)
  • 18 g sugar
  • ‍8 g ghee‍
  • ¼ tsp garam masala

Procedure to cut, clean and prepare the mochar (banana blossom):

  • Make sure you grease your palms with mustard oil to prevent the sticky sap from sticking to your hands
  • Remove outer bracts and collect the flower clusters then repeat the process for each layer
  •  The inner layers are packed tight and more difficult to peel, but keep going, stop when the bracts are really difficult to peel, and flowers become tiny 
  • Discard the outer bracts but keep the flower clusters and save the inner core
  • Pluck a single floret, each floret has a scaly translucent covering called calyx and a thick stalk with a sticky bulbous head called pistil, discard these two parts from all the florets 
  • The inner florets will be tighter and difficult to clean, just do as much as practicable
  • Now, oil your knife, and your chopping board too, this will make it easier to clean off the sticky sap later
  • Chop the florets and while chopping make sure that you reapply oil to your knife
  • Now, take the inner core, discard the extended stem, divide the inner core vertically into two halves, slice each half lengthwise and chop evenly again
  • Transfer the chopped florets and the chopped inner core to a pressure cooker and add salt, turmeric, and water. 
  • Pressure cook everything on medium heat for one whistle and let the pressure release naturally
  • Strain the mochar and let it cool for 30 minutes
  • Mash the boiled mocha using your hands, this will help produce a good mix of mushy and crunchy texture

Procedure to prepare the curry:

  • Chop potatoes into small cubes
  • Pour mustard oil into the kadai over medium flame and let it smoke gently and turn pale yellow in colour
  • ‍Temper mustard oil with dried red chillies, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and cumin seeds
  • Add potatoes and fry for few minutes until golden
  • Add grated coconut and continue frying (Be careful to not burn the coconut)
  • In a small bowl, mix ginger paste, cumin powder, turmeric, red chilli powder with water and add this concoction to the kadai
  • Add salt and sugar and stir to mix everything well 
  • Add 2 slit green chillies
  • Continue frying the spices until the raw smell goes away 
  • Add a splash of water if the spices dry out 
  • Add boiled and strained mochar and mix well
  • Cover and cook on low heat for few minutes
  • Add 2 more slit green chillies and stir gently 
  • Keep cooking on low heat for few more minutes
  • Add ghee and garam masala and mix everything well

Serve this mochar ghonto along with steaming hot rice and ghee.