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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thor Chhechki

A dry vegetable dish made of Banana Stem/pith

In a previous post I had mentioned that in Bengali cuisine, every part of a banana plant finds utility. Not only utility, dishes made out of the banana flower and banana stem are delicacies of the highest order in Bengali vegetarian cuisine.

Today I shall narrate the story of my maiden attempt at making Thor Chhechki .

Thor is the stem or pith of the banana plant. Rich in medicinal value and nutrients (ref. Herbal Food & Its medicinal Values by H.Panda), thor in the Bengali style, is prepared as a ghonto (Semi dry vegetable dish) or a Chhechki (a dry vegetable dish).


Chopping the banana stem, after throwing away the outer hard cover, is the toughest task of all. The return of my live-in maid (M) from her village saved me from the time-consuming and cumbersome task! (Details of how to cut & segregate the edibles from the non-edibles of this veggie is given in this blogpost of rice-n-curry ) A quick telephone call to Ma, gave me the cooking details.

A small tip from Ma helped me decide that Chhechki it would be, rather than the Ghonto.

*If the thor had been tender and hence easy to chop, then ghonto preparation (a semi dry dish) would taste good.
*But if the thor is not so tender (as in today's case), then the dry recipe of Chhechki would suit better.

So here goes the recipe :

Ingredients :-
1. Thor (Banana stems) - 2 pieces each around 1 ft long
2. Grated coconut - 1 bowl (250ml bowl)
3. Dry Whole Red chilli - 2
4. Kaalo jeera (Nigella seeds)
5. Turmeric powder - 3 tsp
6. Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
7. Mustard powder - 3 tsp mixed with a few drop of water to form a paste
8. Green chillies - 2 to 3 slit
9. Coriander leaves
10.Mustard Oil - 4 tbsp
11. A bowl of Diced Pumpkin (I did not have pumpkin so did not use it today)
12. Soaked Bengal Gram (This is usually added in case of Thor Ghonto, but since I had some Bengal gram sprouts, I used them up)
13. Salt to taste
14.Sugar - a pinch

Procedure :-
1. Remove the tough outer cover of the banana stem. The tender innards are chopped as fine as possible and soaked in a big bowl of water containing a pinch of turmeric and salt. The turmeric prevents the chopped thor from turning black.

2.Since the thor was not as tender as is desirable, I pressure cooked it till two whistles blew and after that kept it on low flame for around 10 minutes. Before putting it for pressure cooking, add a pinch of salt and sugar

3. After taking it out of the cooker, mash it some more and squeeze out all the water and keep minced, boiled semi-dried thor aside.

4. Take the Oil in a wok and warm the . Throw in the whole dry red chillies and the kaalo jeera. Add the diced pumpkin pieces (I skipped the pumpkin)

5. Add the Bengal Gram (in my case it was Bengal gram sprouts) and half the quantity of grated coconut

6. Add the minced, boiled semi-dried thor into the oil. Stir well to mix well.

7. Add a tsp of turmeric, a pinch of sugar and salt. Again keep stirring to mix well. No additional water is added. Cover the wok with a lid and turn down the flame to low.

8. After 4-5 minutes, remove the lid and add the mustard paste. Mix well and let it cook.

9.When the thor is almost done, add the remaining coconut after keeping 2 tsp aside for garnishing. Throw in 2 slit green chillies for flavour. Give the veggies a last stir.

10. Garnish with the remaining Coconut and coriander leaves.

Eat with plain steamed rice....delicious veggies oozing with the goodness of nutrients


An afterthought...in a hurry to get over with the cooking, I forgot to click a picture of the raw Thor. For my Bengali blogfriends, that's not an issue as they have seen thor many a times all their lives, but for those who are not familiar with this stem of banana plant, I will photograph it after my next purchase and put it up on the blog.
This is my entry to WYF:Cuisine and the logo for the event is

9 comments:

HR said...

Thor... I feel is always prepared dry... pakhir chola add kore na?...

SGD said...

Yes more or less..
What is Paakhir chhola?
Chhola add kore. Kintu ami sprouted chhola use korechhi

Sucharita Sarkar said...

darun byapar toh, discovered that you are a bengali through the approved Bengali way - love of food. Thor is too difficult to cut for me to even think of preparing it, but I like eating it, so your post made my tongue water because of the memories evoked.

SGD said...

@Sucharita...Bhalo bolechho! We bengalis live to eat and not the other way round. My love for food forces me to cook.... :D :D
Btw ...no credit to me for the cutting...all kudos to my maid and my ma who gave her cutting instructions over phone. I too took the cooking instructions over phone!! ;)))

HR said...

Pahir chola hocche sprout chara je chola ta... tiya pakhira khaay...

SGD said...

@HR-Hya hya...oguloi dae...kintu amar obostha holo jaa thaake taatei manage korte hoy! Hence sprouts instead of pakhir chhola...

Sunanda said...

Thnx! for dropping by... Chhechki looks delicious.. I prepare this dish most often but in a different way..ll definitry give it a try... be in touch

easycrafts said...

Very healthy one..thanks for the entry

SGD said...

@Sunanda - How do you make it? Tomar blog e aachhe?

@EC - You're welcome...yes it is healthy! Bengali cuisine uses minimum spices...it's all about letting the original taste & flavour of the vegetables speak for themselves