Banana Flowers in Bengali & Indian Cooking Explained

Long before the west came to know about the scrumptious secrets and medicinal properties of edible flowers, ancient India discovered and explored all, thanks to their inquisitive mind and relentless scientific experiments.

Let us now talk about the banana tree. It is often said that everything about the banana tree is useful in different ways. In this blog, we will restrict our attention to banana flowers.

Let us now take a tour of how banana flower is used in Bengali and other Indian cuisines.

Banana flowers

Use of Banana Flowers in Bengali and Indian Cuisines

Banana flower is an edible flower. This flower is a celebrated gem in many regional culinary cultures of India. In Bengali kitchens, banana flowers find an astonishing transformation in an amazing assortment of delectable dishes.

Plain mocha bhate or steamed banana blossom is a plain dish with phenomenal taste. Mashed banana flowers are mixed with pungent mustard oil, salt and chopped green chillies.

Mocha ghanto is another Bong speciality. No prize in guessing that banana flower is the main protagonist in the recipe.

It is a dry curry flavoured with a handful of spices and a generous amount of ghee, with the latter being used towards the end of the cooking. The dish is topped with freshly grated coconut for enhanced richness and sweet taste.

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If it comes to swap and swag in swad (taste), Bongs are the master of the game. A good many of the most coveted Bengali delicacies use both veg and non-veg items for the most unique and delectable result.

Chingri diye mochar ghanto (banana flower curry with prawns) is one such delicacy. It is so tasty that you can devour a plateful of rice with a nice helping of this banana flower recipe.

Another delicious banana flower dish from the Bongs’ kitchen is fondly and famously called mochar chop. On any dull evening, serve crisp mochar chop with piping hot tea or coffee and see how things change for the better.

For the Bongs, ‘chaier sathe ta’ (snacks with tea) is a guilt-free attraction. Usually, the hot drinks are often paired with deep fried items in the evening, especially during the wintry or rainy days.

Boiled banana flower is mashed and mixed with boiled potatoes (potato is a decent binder) and a few roasted spices.

Small balls in either round or oval shape are made from the mixture, dipped into the batter of cornflower, rolled on the breadcrumb and deep fried.

These are also served with tomato sauce, chilli sauce and coriander chutney.

Mochar dhoka is an innovative dish. It gives a wonderful and delicious twist to traditional dhoka prepared with chana daal.

Banana flower and chutney? Well, the seemingly impossible combo is a spicy-sweet dish that soaks in awesome flavours from the roasted spices.

In our neighbouring state Assam, people use banana flowers to drum up some wonderful delicacies.

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The Assamese call it koldi. Boiled banana flowers are dipped in a batter of pasted masoor dal, red chilli powder and salt and then deep fried in mustard oil.

The preparation is famously known Koldi bhaji. You can serve the dish as snacks or the perfect starter to any Assamese platter.

Koldi murgi manxho is a much hyped non-veg dish from the land of Brahmaputra. Banana flowers are slow cooked with country chicken and flavoured by bay leaves, ginger-garlic paste, red chillies and a host of common spices.

Koldi paro manghor jalukia is a much-sought and celebrated Assamese delicacy cooked with banana flowers and pigeon meat.

The kitchens in south India whip up a delectable variety of stir-fries, fritters, curries and chutneys with banana flowers.

Banana flower is also eaten raw. It finds a different use in making salads and soups though curries are more common in Indian cuisines.

Is Banana Flower Tasty?

If it comes to taste, there are ‘hell and heaven’ differences between bananas and banana flowers. Banana flowers are much more delicate and almost neutral in taste.

Despite having almost similar aromatic profiles, banana flowers are a little nutty.

However, sometimes, these taste slightly bitter and so should be soaked in lemon juice before cooking.

What are the Best Recipes of Banana Flowers?

As a Bong, I am very much fond of the most authentic Bengali dishes.

Therefore, it is not surprising that I would love mochar ghanto (both niramish and with prawns) and mocha bhate.

If you are a Bong, you are more likely to agree to my choice.

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To me, mochar ghanto – both amish and niramish preparations – is the best recipe prepared with banana flowers.

However, I also try cuisines from other states and countries.

What Dishes Can be Made from Boiled Banana Flowers?

Banana flowers are usually boiled before making any preparation, especially in the Bengali cuisines.

Boiled banana flowers are used in cooking mocha bhate, mochar ghanto, mochar chop, mochar dhoka, koldi bhaji etc.

How Do You Know When a Banana Flower is Cooked?

Usually, boiled banana flowers are used to cook different dishes.

It should be mashed well before preparation; otherwise its little crunchiness will not taste good after cooking.

The colour of the banana flowers completely changes after these are properly done.

Even though you are using boiled banana flowers, you need to add water to the pan after adding spices.

How Many Types of Banana Flower Dishes are There?

There are many dishes that use banana flowers.

However, I have mentioned only the most traditional and popular ones in Indian cuisines.

You can check mocha bhate, mochar ghanto, mochar chop, mochar dhoka, koldi bhaji etc.

What Goes Well with Banana Flowers?

Most banana flower dishes go well with plain steamed rice and dal.

However, you can replace rice with roti to pair with the most traditional banana flower dishes.

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