There is a proverb in Benagali … “Bangalir baro mash-e tero parbon” which literally means there are 13 festivals in twelve month or in single year. It simply explains how much fun and festival lover we Bengalis are. And it is needless to say that no festival is complete without food.
The biggest festival of Bengali i.e. Durga Puja is going to be started in two days. So I thought of sharing a delicacy of Bengali cuisine ‘Potoler Dolma’ (Stuffed Pointed Gourd). Yesterday was Sunday and ‘Choturthi’ (Fourth day of Navaratri) and we all were at home. We were discussing what to be cooked for lunch and all were giving their own oninion. We finally came to an agreement and I got my ingredients together to make ‘Potoler Dolma’ and ‘Muri Ghonto’.
Now about this particular recipe … ‘Potoler Dolma’, there is a huge variation. Some make the stuffing with ‘keema’ (minced meat), some with prawn and some with fish. There are vegetarian variation also … with ‘paneer’ (cottage cheese) or coconut. Every Bengali family has their own secret recipe! It can be served dry as appetizer or starter or can be dipped in thick gravy too ‘Potoler Dolma with Gravy’. Thakuma (my grandmother) used to make it with ‘Rui Mach’ (Rohu Fish) stuffing and without gravy. We serve it as an appetizer. So this time I’m sharing our family recipe.
‘Potol’ or ‘Parwal’ (pointed gourd) is a common summer vegetable in India. It’s a love or hate vegetable. Either you like it or you don’t. I fall in the first category. Whether it is fried and served with ‘dal’ and rice or curried with some potato or prepared with some poppy seed paste (Potol Posto), I love them all. There are several other ways pointed gourd is cooked in a Bengali household.
For this recipe, you should choose the ‘potol’ (Pointed Gourd) long and thick ones, and then it would be easy to stuff. It is a time consuming process and took me good couple of hours to finish it. But it was totally worth it. What better way to celebrate the Durga Puja than with a good meal that takes you back to your childhood!
- Potol/Parwal/Pointed Gourd – 12
- Mustard Oil – ¾ cup
For the stuffing:
- Rui Mach/Rohu Fish – 500 gms
- Onion – 2 (Finely Sliced)
- Ginger Paste – 1 Tbsp
- Garlic Paste – 2 tsp
- Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
- Green Chilies – 2-3 (Finely Chopped)
- Coriander Leaf – 3-4 tsp (Chopped)
- Turmeric Powder – 1 ½ tsp
- Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Salt – To taste
- Wash and clean the potols. Very lightly scrape them. Cut off the tips from both ends. Scoop out the seeds from one end without breaking/damaging the other end – I use the handle of a teaspoon to do this. (Don’t discard the seeds, refer to notes).
- Rub a little salt on the inside and outside of the potols and keep them aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat half of the oil in a kadhai/wok and fry the potols till they turn light brown (add some more oil if needed). Drain well and keep aside to cool.
For the stuffing:
- Smear some salt and turmeric to the fish pieces.
- Now for deboning either you can fry the fish pieces or boil or cook in microwave for 2/3 minutes. I choose the last option as it is hassle free and fish gets its soft, crumbling texture and yes of course it is healthy too.
- In the same oil (where you have fried potol) fry the sliced onion till it becomes translucent. Add ginger paste, garlic paste till golden brown.
- Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, chopped green chilies and a little sugar. Mix well with above masala, cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the deboned fish. Adjust salt.
- After the mixture becomes slightly tight and oil starts separating from sides add the garam masala powder. Mix well and keep aside to cool.
- Once it completely cools down, fill the scooped out and fried potols with the stuffing – till the edge and pack tightly.
- Arrange ‘Potoler Dolma’ on a serving plate and serve as appetizer in dinner or lunch.
~ The stuffing can be made before hand. Just fry the potol and fill in the stuffing and serve!
~ The scooped out seeds can be ground and added back into the stuffing (for vegetarian option) or just stir fry with spices of your choice – which is how we eat them…yum yum yum!!!