It's Durga Pujo time and I am feeling nostalgic. About people, about food, about the adda and more. So I made something special - Potoler Dolma. Potol is pointed gourd and is available during the summer. I didn't like Potol growing up and would crib about it whenever my mother made it. But times change, and now I go searching for it in Indian stores in the US.
Imagine my surprise when I found some fresh ones in the Indian store in Ann Arbor. I scooped it up and brought the coveted vegetable home and called my parents hoping to get thakuma's (paternal grandmother) recipe. But long conversation ensued and we kept talking about what actually went in her recipe. I remembered it differently than my father and my brother. Well, that's what memories are all about!
We finally came to an agreement and I got my ingredients together to make it.
Now Potoler Dolma is a quintessential Bengali recipe in my mind. Imagine my surprise when I find out that Dolma is not really Bengali, it's originally Portuguese and has been Bengalified with Potol. :)
You can make the dolma filling any way, there are hundreds (ok slight exaggerations here) of mixes with prawns or scraped coconut mix or dry fruits or minced meat or boneless fish or vegetables like mushrooms or mashed potatoes and paneer. I decided to do it vegetarian and simple, like my grandmother usually made.
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 pujo than with a good meal that takes you back to your childhood!
8-10 Potol (pointed gourd)
1/2 cup scraped Coconut
1 1/2 tspoon Mustard seeds
1 tspoon Ginger paste
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Red chili powder
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tspoon coriander powder
1 or 2 Bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon
1 tomato - chopped
3-4 tbspoon oil
1/4 tspoon sugar
Salt to taste
3/4 cup water
There are few steps which I have tried to divide to make it easier:
Scooping and cleaning the potols: Wash the pointed gourd and scrape the skin alternately. Then cut one end of the potol and start scooping out the seeds and flesh with your finger or with the help of a spoon. Sprinkle little salt and leave for few minutes.
Don't throw the seeds and the flesh, it goes back in the stuffing!
Making the stuffing: Meanwhile heat some oil in a pan add the mustard seeds. Then add the almonds, coconut and the flesh and seeds that you scooped out. Saute till the coconut slightly changes its color to light brown. Then add salt and sugar, cumin seed powder and 1/4 tspoon red chilli powder, fry them for another couple of minutes. Add 1-2 tspoon water to mix it together. Take it out from the pan and cool it to room temperature. Put it in a grinder and mix it together so the mustard seeds, the potol seeds and the almonds are ground to a smooth mix.Filling the Potol: Once the filling has cooled, take the potol and stuff it with the mix.
The final putting it together: Heat the rest of the oil in a saucepan and temper it with bay leaves and cardamoms and cinnamon. Add the ginger paste and tomato and saute for a minute. Then add the roasted cumin seed powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder. If you have any filling left, add it to the curry now. Add water and adjust for salt. Once it comes to a boil, add the stuffed potols in it and simmer on low heat for 8-9 min till the potol is completely cooked.
Serve the potoler dolma or dorma with plain white rice.
I found a great video about stuffing the potols on YouTube. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCz3gcWsKFQ
Have a wonderful pujo everyone!