When Life Gives You Kanchkola, Make Koftas Out It!
Does it ever happen to you that you buy something but later regret doing that completely? Well, that is exactly what happened with me when I bought a bunch of Green Bananas on my previous visit to the local grocery store. I regretted my decision almost the moment I came back home. Till then it was too late and I had to figure out something out of these Kanchkolas or Green Bananas or Plantains. It was after several cups of coffee and head-banging that this kanchkolar kofta Bengali recipe came to me.
Many Bengali randhunis would swear by the gun or benefits of kanchkola or green bananas. Extremely rich in Iron and several vitamins and minerals, it is a tried & tested dose of medicine for upset stomach. So much so that the moment you declare the rumblings in your stomach, your mother would start her kanchkolar jhol aka the plantain stew with vegetables like aubergine, potato and even a piece or two of fish. This mildly spiced stew is almost a fixed menu for next 2-3 days or till you forcefully convince her that you are absolutely fine and need to get back to the normal diet in order to gain your palate.
Jokes aside, I recently realized that a humble Green Banana can be given such a glam makeover with a touch of spice and some sparable moments in kitchen. A kanchkolar kofta, if done well can any day give a meat-based dish run for money.
As I often say that Bengali cuisine is not just about fish, meat and chicken. It is much more than that with a plethora of vegetables like Ol or Jimikand, Thor or Banana Stem, Mocha or Banana Blossom, a variety of Gourds and many more. We start our meals with a choice of shak or leafy vegetables, ranging from palong (spinach), pui (Malabar spinach) to laal shak (red amaranth) and kochu shak (tapioca leaves).
We often move ahead with a serving of daal or lentil which is often accompanied with a bhaja or fried vegetable like potato, aubergine, pointed gourd, okra or even coconut. In the end, we would often finish our meals with chutney or partly sweet and partly tangy side dish often made of season fruits or vegetables like green mangoes or jujube in summer and tomatoes, dates and mango leather in winters.
Coming back to our kanchkolar kofta recipe, let’s start with that.
- 4 nos. Green Banana or Plantain
- 1 tsp Gram Flour or Chatu
- Mustard Oil
- 2 Tomatoes Medium - Pureed
- 2 Bay Leaves
- A pinch of Asafoetida or Hing
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tbsp Grated Ginger
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 3/4 tsp Bengali Garam Masala Powder
- Salt To Taste
- A Hefty Pinch of Dried Fenugreek Leaves or Kasuri Methi
- Cream to Garnish Optional
- 2 Green Chilies
- 1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder
Pressure cook the Green Bananas. Once they have cooled down, peel them off and mash them with some chatu or Gram Flour and salt. Make small balls out of them and deep fry them till golden-brown in mustard oil.
Now, heat some oil in a pan and temper it with hing or asafoetida, bay leaves, cumin leaves and grated ginger. Fry it well before adding the tomato puree.
Cook it till it reduces and water has been gone. Add the dry spices and fry it nicely till the edges release oil.
Add water to make the gravy and put in chilies as per your taste. Slice them if you don't mind the heat, or simply add them whole.
Rub the fenugreek leaves between palms to crush them and add them in the gravy. Cover it with a lid and allow it to simmer.
Before turning the heat off, drop the fried plantain balls in the gravy and top with a dollop of fresh cream to add richness. Though it is completely optional.