Friday, October 31, 2014

Mochar Chop......Banana Blossom Croquette


We all are familiar with Banana: nature's own energy rich food but did you know you can eat its flower too? You might be wondering how, right? This question is very obvious for the one who hasn't tasted it. The flower of Banana is known as Mocha(in Bengali) or Banana Blossom(in English).

Mocha or Banana Blossom is used as a nutritious food item in Southeast Asia. It has a lot of medicinal values like blood purification, curing stomach ulcers, constipation, menstrual disorders etc. Since they are rich in fiber content they help in increasing the hemoglobin level of our blood.

Banana trees are very common in India and especially in West Bengal. We Bengalis utilize each and every part of Banana tree. The stem a.k.a "Thor", the leaves are used to serve food or used in wrapping and cooking, the flower a.k.a "Mocha" and of course the fruit "Banana". These trees also have religious values. They are used in pooja and wedding ceremonies.

Enough of rambling now coming back to our "Mochar Chop". 


How to clean Mocha:



Mocha is a large, dark-red colored flower that grows from the end of a Banana bunch. Its bracts (leaves) snugly enclose the sweet-scented, light yellow colored flowers. You need to remove those red or brown color bracts and separate the flowers as shown in Image(a)). 

Image(a)

Image(b)
Image(c)
Each flower has florets. You have to take each floret and remove the hard stigma (a match stick like structure) and scale (the pinkish small petals or casing at the stem base) As shown in Image(b) and Image(c).

Image(d)

Image(e)
Once the darker and tougher outer bracts are removed you will find much paler and lighter bracts(as shown in Image(d)). At this point stop peeling, as you can chop it and mix with the earlier chopped flowers(as shown in Image(e)).

The cleaning process of Mocha is very tedious, so every time I have to do it I say to myself that next time I won't buy it. You need a lot of patience for cleaning and shredding it. But the end result is so delicious that all the pain is worth it.

Take necessary precautions while working with Mocha as it gives nasty black stains to your hands. So apply oil to your hands before even touching it. Spread few old newspapers on your working surface to avoid the stains.


Image(f)
Once all the cleaning process is done i.e peeling the bracts, removing the flowers, separating the stigma and scales; chop the flowers very finely(as shown in Image(f)). Take a heavy bottomed pan, fill it with enough water and add salt and turmeric powder to it. Once the chopping is done put the chopped Mocha in this water. This will help in removing the bitter and metallic taste. 

Drain the water and boil the Mocha on medium heat for 15-20 mins. (You can also use pressure cooker for doing so. Cook it until 3 whistles.)  Once done, drain the water by using a colander and allow it to cool down. Now remove the excess water by pressing it in between your palms. Your Mocha is now ready for making chops.

How to make Mochar Chop:




Ingredients:

1. Mocha: 1
2. Boiled and peeled potato : 2 (medium sized)
3. Onions (chopped): 1 (big sized)
4. Ginger-Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
5. Coconut (shredded): 3 tbsp
6. Roasted Peanuts (peeled and halved): 10-12
7. Green Chilies (chopped): 2
8. Garam Masala Powder: 1 tsp
9. Salt to taste
10. Sugar to taste
11. Cornflour: 2 tbsp
12. Water: 1 cup
13. Breadcrumbs for coating
14. Oil for frying + 1 tbsp

Method:


1. Mash the boiled and peeled potatoes. I use my grater for doing so. As the potatoes get a very good texture for making chops and they get easily mixed with the other ingredients.

2. Add the boiled and squeezed Mocha to the mashed potatoes.

3. Now add in the chopped onions, ginger-garlic paste, shredded coconut, roasted peanuts, green chilies, garam masala powder, salt and sugar. Mash all the ingredients with your hands.

4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Transfer the mixture in the pan and fry it for 5-6 mins until the mixture gets dry or there's no moisture left. You can check it by taking small amount of mixture in your hand and try to form a round ball. If you are able to do so then the mixture is perfect. Once done remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to cool down.

5. In the meanwhile take a small bowl take cornflour and mix it with water to make thin or watery batter. (Add very little water at a time.)

6. Take small amount of mixture in your hand and give a shape of chop or cutlet. Size and shape of the chop depends on individual choice, I prefer to do a cylindrical shape.

7. Dip the chop in the cornflour and water batter and then roll it on breadcrumbs. 

8. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot reduce the heat to medium and fry the chops till you get a nice golden-brown color. Remove the chops on a plate lined with paper towel to soak the excess oil.

9. Serve it with tomato ketchup, salad or kasundi (bengali mustard sauce).


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