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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mocha-r Torkari / Banana Blossom / Banana Flower Curry



When I came to US for studies, I made quite a many friends here, but very few of them became friends forever. P is one of them.
It's funny how we became friends. She was my roommate R's friend. One day P invited R for Dahi Bhalle and I just decided to tag along with her! That's where we got to know each other and eventually became good friends. It was much later that I came to know that P makes awesome Kachoris; specially the Dal-bati churma she makes are just so good!
P and her husband (we call them "PP" for fun) are expecting their first child in March and I wanted to invite her for "Saadh". "Saadh" (in Bengali means "wish") is celebrated by Bengalees for a pregnant woman. It is like a Bengali baby shower.
Generally when I invite my friends for lunch/dinner I make both veg and non-veg dishes as some of them are pure vegetarian. But this time I planned the menu knowing P's food likings. She is an eggetarian, so I prepared authentic Bengali vegetarian dishes for her along with an egg special.
I know that on Saadh many dishes are made for the pregnant woman, but I could not remember if there was anything that is a must for Saadh. I called up my 'Kakima' (aunt) and she told me that Payes (kheer/rice pudding) was that special dish which must be served.

Here is the list of dishes I finally cooked for P on her 'Saadh':
Sada bhat (plain rice) with deshi ghee (clarified butter),
Salad,
Begun diye palong saag - sathe kasundi (spinach fried with eggplant),
 5 rokomer bhaja or 5 types of fries (bitter gourd, cauliflower, raddish, okra, pumpkin),
Dudh diye shukto (a mixed veg stew which is a Bengali delicacy),
Bhaja moog-er daal narkel, gajor, matarsuti diye (roasted split green gram cooked with sliced coconut, carrots and peas),
Korola kumro boti (bitter gourd and pumpkin curry),
Bori diye lau-er torkari (bottle gourd curry),
Alu-jhinge posto (potato-ridge gourd curry with poppy seed paste),
Dharos sorshe (okra in mustard sauce),
Palak paneer kofta (cheeseballs in spinach gravy),
Mocha (banana blossom/banana flower curry),
Dim malai (egg in a creamy sauce),
Aam-er chutney (mango relish/pickle).

For dessert I prepared
Nolen gurer payes (kheer / rice pudding),
Baked rosogolla,
Aam-doi (mango flavored yogurt).


P was truly surprised when she sat at the table. She enjoyed every single item, but her personal favorite was the banana blossom curry, one she tasted for the first time.


Ingredients for Banana Blossom Curry:
Mocha / Banana Blossom / Banana Flower - 2
Potato - 2 Big (Cut into small pieces)
Onion - 1/2 (Chopped)
Ginger - 1&1/2 tbsp
Green Chili - according to taste
Bayleaf
Dry Red Chili
Cumin Seed
Turmeric Powder
Salt
Sugar
Ghee
Garam Masala

Method to cut Mocha / Banana Blossom / Banana Flower:


Rub your hands with salt or mustard oil as otherwise your fingers will be discolored from the florets.
Pull out the outer layers or petals of the banana flower one by one which will comes off easily. Collect the pale yellow florets.


Keep pulling out layers, until the white yellow soft core, banana heart, is reached.
Cut off the stem and discard it.
Now comes the hardest part. Carefully open each floret. Take out and discard the transparent plastic like petal and a matchstick like stem from each floret. These need to be removed as otherwise the curry will become chewy and bitter.


Finally chop the flowers and the banana heart into small pieces. To avoid discoloration, soak in cold water.



Preparation:
Make a paste of the ginger, green chili and cumin seeds and keep aside.
Start with pressure cooking the banana flowers for about 2 whistles. Let it cool down and then release the pressure from cooker.


Strain water from the boiled florets and mash it nicely.


Next heat oil.
Add dry red chili, bayleaf and cumin seed, fry it for a while.


Then add chopped onions, add a pinch of salt and fry.


When the onions turn translucent, add the diced potato and fry.


Add the cumin, green chili, ginger paste and fry on medium heat.


Once oil starts to ooze out, add the mashed banana flowers. Also add turmeric powder and salt and mix well.


Now cook it covered on low heat. This step will take some time. Sprinkle water, if needed.
Stir it occasionally, so that the pan bottom does not burn.
Once the flowers are well cooked and there is no more of raw smell to it, add sugar, ghee, garam masala and mix well.


Keep it covered for a while and serve.

P.S. "PP" are blessed with a very handsome baby boy! :)