Mom's kach kolar kofta (unripe banana dumpling curry) recipe for #SeedTheRise

                             Do check this video to know more about the #SeedTheRiseChallenge
                              The recipe & details of the challenge lie towards the end of the post

I took part in the Seed The Rise Challenge today as a way to give back to the Indian farmers - who play such an integral role in any foodies life. Did you know that thanks to our hardworking farmers - India is the world's number 1 producer of bananas? So to honour their hard work - I decided to dig out a recipe that has close family connections.

 
We lived with our grandparents for a year after my father had passed away.
 
I was about 9 years old then and I have lots of fond memories from those days. Of my late grandpa taking me to the Ganges to take the steamer to Howrah station. Of my grandmother taking us to the rother mela (ratha yatra fair) and buying us fried papad. Of trying to stay up to see India take on the West Indies in the World Cup final and waking up next morning to hear that we were the world champions.

Talking of sports, I remember the evening Anantha Krishnan, my mama's sports loving office colleague dropped in for dinner.

Krishnan was vegetarian and so the normal rui kali or kosha mangsho which my granny would make for guests wouldn't work as she had to avoid the celebratory fish and meat dishes.

So she made something called kolar kofta or a curry made with unripe banana dumplings. That was the first time in my life that I tasted this dish and I thought that it went pretty well with the pulao she made that night.

I might have been tiny and chubby then but I remember all my granny's cooking even now.

The koftas that I made this weekend inspired by the ones my granny used to cook


I think that the kolar kofta recipe was something Didu (my granny) had picked up during her time in Delhi. 

I asked my mother if this was so.

Mom wrote back to me saying, "During our growing up years in Delhi, vegetables were quite scarce during summer. Different types of vegetables were not available round the year as they are now. So my mom would mostly cook lady's fingers, potato curry, parwal curry or tinda curry for dinner. Tinda is a light green coloured round shaped vegetable, which I used to detest.

In that bleak situation, the days when my mom cooked 'kofta' curry with green bananas, my heart would dance in joy as I used to love eating good food."

It was my grandpa's 95th birth anniversary on 1st November. I remembered that he loved raw bananas and would keep saying that they were good for his health.

I asked my friend, Dr Pradeep Rao, about the benefits of un ripe bananas. Turns out that Pradeep loved unripe bananas too. He said that they are high in protein, are good for the heart and provide roughage (which I feel is what attracted dadu the most!)

So I asked my mom for the recipe and decided to try making a kolar kofta. This was the first time in my life that I cooked with raw bananas or even bought them. They cost me Rs 50 for 4 at Lalu's in Bandra's Pali Market.

Bringing home the unripe bananas.
Did you know India is the world's largest producers of bananas? 


Here's the recipe as narrated by my mom, Rekha Karmakar. She is a blogger herself and you must check out her blog Tabulous Mom.

Mom's kach kolar kofta recipe as per her email to me:

Ingredients:

3 or 4 green bananas
2 boiled potatoes
1 medium sized onion roughly chopped
1 or 2 green chillies finely chopped
A handful of besan (gram flour)/ maida (fine wheat flour)/ atta (wheat flour). We used atta (KK)
6 or 7 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 washed and split bay leaves
3 whole cardamoms, 2 cloves and an 1 inch cinnamon stick
paste of 1 medium onion
1 tbsp garlic paste
Tomato puree of 1 tomato
A quarter tsp each of turmeric powder and red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1tbsp powdered garam masala
2 cups of water
salt to taste (1/2 teaspoon)





Method

Step 1 
1. Cut the green bananas, with their skin, in 3 or 4 pieces.
2. Cut the potatoes, with their skin, in two halves.
3. Boil the cut pieces of the green bananas and the potatoes together in a pressure cooker. Throw away the water after they are boiled. Be careful that the black water, due to high iron content in the green bananas, does not spill on your clothes as the marks will never go away even after washing the clothes.

Post boiling


Step 2: 
4. Peel the skin of the boiled green bananas. Mash the green bananas well. Add salt, chopped onions and green chillies to the mix.
5. Take a handful of besan/ maida/ atta and mix it with the mashed boiled bananas as a binding agent.
6. Now form medium shaped balls with the banana dough with the mix and keep them aside.
7. Heat 4 tbsp of white oil in a non sticky pan. After that, lower the heat.
8. Put the banana balls in the oil and fry them in medium heat. Turn them over when  one side becomes brown. You can also fry them in batches if you cannot manage all of them at a time.
9. When  they look golden brown, take them off the fire and set them aside in a bowl.

The kofta stuffing

Koftas being fried


The fried koftas


Step: 3
10. In a wok, put 2 tbsp white oil and heat it up. You can add 1 more tbsp oil later, if you need.
11. Lower the heat and put the whole cumin seeds, bay leaves, crushed cardamoms, cloves and the cinnamon stick   (broken into pieces).
12. When nice flavour starts coming out, put the onion paste in the oil and stir. After a while, add the garlic paste and stir.
13. Then put the peeled boiled potatoes, cut into cubes, and fry them along with the onion and garlic paste.
14. Pour the turmeric, red chilli and cumin powders (made into a paste with some water) on the potatoes.
14. Stir the spices for a while along with other things. Then add the tomato puree. Keep stirring till the oil gets separated.
15. Pour 2 cups of water and add salt to taste. Let it boil on medium heat for sometime.
16. Then put all the fried balls in the gravy.
17. Immediately sprinkle garam masala powder. Stir for a minute and then take the wok off the gas and cover it for 5 minutes.
18. Please do not boil the balls for more than 1 minute as they will turn soggy. The banana balls soak up quite a bit of gravy. So make allowance for that.
19. Pour the banana 'kofta' curry in a bowl and serve it with  roti/paratha/puri or rice.







I was quite happy with the end result and hoped dadu would like my birthday gift for him.
 

I sometimes wonder what Dadu, who wanted his grandchildren to be IAS officers, think of my being a food blogger. Then I realized that he was the real pioneer in the family. Travelling to Kolkata from Diamond harbor then Allahabad and then New Delhi trying out new career options in a newly independent country. I also remember that when I was having a tough time with science in my plus two he told me that I should ditch it and study what made me happy and supported my shift to arts which was rare for boys in those days.

I think he would be OK with what I am doing. What do you think?

You can read about his story
here.





Mom told me that my granny used to make the koftas from their garden in Delhi.

I did a bit of a search and found that India is actually the largest producer of bananas in the world. 

It is not the best of times for our farmers though.

Betrayed by the weather and our indifference, our farmers are struggling and fighting against the odds every day. #SeedTheRise is a crowd-funding campaign set up by Mahindra to help improve the lives of our country's farmers. Working with 5 NGO-led projects across India, the campaign is looking to raise Rs. 2 crores in public donations. What's more - each donation will be matched by Mahindra to double the benefit for the farmers. You can donate here - http://bit.ly/1ROiYCC.


In fact my grandfather did work in the American Agricultural Institute for a while in Allahabad so this post is dedicated to him
Disclaimer: This post was done in association with the #SeedTheRise team 
4