Shrimp with Banana Flowers – Mocha Chingri & A Bengali Love Affair

Banana Flower and shrimp with bengali spices

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The early morning breeze from the open window was cool and nurturing, almost like a mother’s touch. The gentle wind was carrying with it a sweet and melodious voice of someone singing. I could not understand the lyrics of the song, yet I felt connected to the music and the voice.

It was my first brush with a city named Kolkatta and its people. And on that morning began my life-long love affair for the culture, people and food of West Bengal. My stay in and around Kolkatta was a short one, but I was enriched with music, art and culture.

The early morning “riyaz” (music practice) became something I looked forward to waking up to. I found out that the voice belonged to a young woman, about my age, who lived right next door. Her Ma, (Mom) used to teach “sangeet” (music) and she was one of her mom’s pupils and yes I became one of the pupils too.

So did I wake up others with my own melodious singing?  Thankfully, for everyone in my family –  NO!  I never could become an early morning person to actually wake up and prep myself for a Riyaz and I am sure it would have been anything but melodious.

But I do know someone whose melodious rendition of Rabindra Sangeet makes me feel reconnected to all that I loved and still love about Bengali culture – love for music, art, cinema , literature and a strong sense of community. Here is the song by Purna di. In addition to being such a brilliant artist, she also manages a huge social networking group dedicated to preserving traditional Bengali food.

She says about Shrimp with banana flowers – Mocha Chingri – “A torn page from the days when cooking was not done in a jiffy, time was abundant for mothers and they produced dishes meant for kings!”   It’s a leaf from traditional Bengali cooking – skillful, nurturing and full of love. Thanks Purna di, for all the nurturing you do!


Shrimp with Banana Flowers – Mocha Chingri & A Bengali Love Affair


  • 1 medium banana flower
  • 1 C cubed potatoes
  • 1 pound Shrimp. peeled and devined
  • 3 C Fresh coconut grated
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbs ginger paste
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Turmeric : 2 tbs
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Bengali garam masala powder grind some green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon- all together


Stage I

  1. Smear your palms and fingers with oil and a bit of salt
  2. Watch the link to better understand how to prep the flower.
  3. Start removing the petals and keep removing them until you reach the actual stalk, where you do see the petals but can’t really remove them.
  4. Chop the stalk as finely as possible ; take off the small banana buds and slit them open, getting rid of the pin-like stems inside, and SOAK them in turmeric brine for at least 2-3 hours (the more you soak the better it is)
  5. Strain wash add some fresh turmeric and brine water and steam;
  6. bring the grated flower out after about 10 minutes and squeeze out the water as much as possible!

Stage II:

  1. Heat oil in a pan; sauté the shrimps (smeared in turmeric and salt) remove just as they turn color; add the potatoes and fry till they look crisp and golden.
  2. In the same oil, add bay leaf and cumin seeds for tempering;
  3. add the coconut and fry till you get the aroma! Add the Mocha , all the spices except garam masala, and cook for 2-3 minutes;
  4. Add the shrimp and the fried potatoes and half a cup of warm water.
  5. Cook on high adding garam masala; add the green chillies.
  6. Remove from heat when the potatoes are fully cooked the curry is rich and creamy.
  7. Add Ghee, garnish with roasted cumin powder and serve with plain rice!

Recipe Notes

Link : - How to clean the Banana Flower


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