Thursday, August 09, 2012

Ma's Doi Potol -- no choices there

HaateBajaare2
All Photo Credits Courtesy my Dad@Kolkata

Food is a topic of much discussion these days. Umpteen channels on the television talk, discuss, present and even produce insane competitions;all on food. There are millions of blogs and websites all over the internet bursting with tantalizing food and bulging with information. There are hundreds of opinions churned out every day about what food is good and bad for you. There are umpteen lists about "Five Foods to Never Eat" and as many about "Five Foods to ace an interview". You would think "Five" would be an easy number to handle ? Naah.

All around me there seems to be a Food bubble. And I do hope earnestly that the bubble does not burst. I am enjoying it.

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But as much as I love this gastronomical propaganda I must admit I am also highly confused. There is too much information which is hard to assimilate and even trust these days. There is too much of competition about making food faster, prettier, healthier, better and while one day that means oodles of butter, on the other none of it.There are studies being churned out faster than the dollar bill and when it comes to food it is hard to ignore them even in my standard lackadaisical mode. Why my family's health might be affected by the brand new study, that still smells of fresh ink and crisp paper hot from the printer. My child might grow up to be a psycho because she was deprived of Himalayan acai berry juice as a toddler.

Local or Organic, Paleo or Vegan, Chinese Study or American, South Beach or Calangute, your garndmother's or mine ? The questions are just too many. And honestly if you notice the core of each of these studies and sum them up it might just be what your Mother had been saying all along and you blindly ignored. Ahhh, what does she know after all. Now grandmothers might be more knowledgeable.

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When I was a child growing up in India, food was not a media darling. Few recipes in the Sunday newspaper and a couple of half hearted food pictures in the Bengali magazine was all we had to be satisfied with. Glossy magazines like Femina did not talk about food. News Magazines like India Today stayed far away from recipes and if at all, talked about the dearth of food or the high price of it. "Eat it, all of  what is in your plate. Food is precious and there are people who are doing without it" was my Mother's common refrain.Food was revered and recipes were all hand me down or shared with neighbors. My Ma would sometimes cut out of recipes from the Sunday papers and with years they would begin to look like  fragile parchment.

Food was a mainstay of the middle class household though. Starting with the morning bazaar routine, getting fresh supplies of seasonal vegetables and fish every day, cooking 3 meals from scratch each day without fail was the norm. We discussed food with love and passion, as something to be cherished and thankful about. Each time my Thama lamented the milk that the milkman got, comparing it with the creamy, almost reddish hued warm milk from the cows in her parent's home in Munger, we collectively sighed. When my Baba said that nothing tasted as good as his grandmother's ghee parathas and mohonbhog we imagined days dripping with drops of grainy tassar silk ghee.

My Ma's cooking usually bordered on the healthy where it was never oily or too spicy for comfort. Yet it was flavorful, always had a vegetable, a fish and grains. The vegetables and fish changed along the season, the dishes varied from light to rich with the temperature. Meat was cooked once a week. I lived my entire childhood yearning for an omlette made with 6 whole eggs which she steadfastly denied spreading the quota over the entire week instead. She or none in her generation stopped to think if it was right to feed this or that. The everyday diet was naturally balanced.

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All her life my mother's food style remained the same unlike mine which jumps from no-grain in one week to brown rice only in another and raw salad one day to junk food the next. While she lived with maybe three main kinds of grains, my pantry has branded as well as un-branded packs of brown rice, quinoa, daliya, couscous, semolina, flax seeds, wheat germ and other un-inventoried item which I amass because the recent study said so. Needless to say I forget about many of them.

I don't know whether her style was correct or whether it worked because the raw food products then were not maligned by harmful chemicals. I am not justifying anything, all I am saying is it was much more easier to think of food and plan a meal then. There were set choices.

Now,every week we run around three different grocery stores. For what purpose I do not know. Organic spinach and strawberries from Whole Foods, flax seed from Wegman's, Bitter Gourd and hot green Chiles from Patel Bhai. And then someone comes and says "Local is far better than Organic" and so I again run around, driving 35miles, getting Zucchini from the farm stand which said "Local Produce". In between I have spent an hour debating whether the more expensive wild caught salmon is less contaminated than the farm raised.Thankfully Organic Milk and Eggs is now mainstream and so we can get that anywhere but now they say Milk is not at all necessary for the diet anyway so there my precious 265 hours were wasted.

Finally when I am home, drained both physically and financially I decide I need some rest and order a processed cheese artisan pizza from Domino's, glug down a splenda infused coke and try to think of the  most edible way to cook the couscous so that I can contribute more food to the world wide web.

Of all the "gyaan" that is out there I probably like Michael Pollan's Twelve Commandments best.  
More Vegetables. 
Less Meat. 
Minimal processed food. Cook more. 
Eat at the table. Though I don't follow them strictly, they make sense.

But here is where I stumble.
"Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food".

Ideally eating what my Grandmother recognized would have been right because I guess that is what my body was suited for but then came globalization and messed it all up. I eat pasta and broccoli in abundance, and I am guessing she would too if she lived with me in the US. Also when I eat some of what she ate like this "Potol" I am actually committing a crime by not eating "local". I have no idea where my Patel Brothers get their potol from but I am sure it grows nowhere in my backyard.

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Potol was a vegetable I was never fond of but summer heat brings back memories of patol and grandmothers. I however did not buy potol again, twice in one summer is enough I decided. This recipe of Doi Potol -- PointedGourd in a Yogurt sauce is a recipe sent by my Mother. I haven't cooked it yet but the recipe I see is pretty universal and might go well with even eggplants. So that is what I am going to do with this recipe next, cook it with eggplants. You can do the same or if you have access to plentiful potols you can make one more dish with the same boring veggie.


1. Potol - 6 pc
2. Onion - half
3. Yogurt/Curd - 1 cup
4. Green chilli-- 4/5
5. Cumin/Jeera powder - 2 tea spoon
6. Ginger - 1 table spoon
7. Turmeric Powder - 1 tea spoon
8. Chilli powder - half tea spoon
9. Sugar - 1 tea spoon
10. Salt- according to taste
11. Garam masala - 3 elaichi, 1/2 " dalchini, 4 cloves
12. Tejpata - 1
13. Rosun - 1 koya /1clove



Prothome potol take bhajar moto ga ( body ) ta cheche niye ektu haldi & salt lagye bheje nite hobe. Then potol ta tule rekhe in that oil, garam masala & tejpata phoron debe. Then ote onion & rosun debe and ginger paste & sugar diye bhjte hobe. Now 1 cup doi ( curd ) haldi, lanka & jeera powder diye bhalo kore phetiye nite hobe. Onion bhaja hole or modhye ei curd diye debe and gas sim kore bhalo kore nere niye ote potol guli diye nara chara kore salt debe. Tarpore jal ( water ) diye dhaka ( lid ) debe. Potol boil hole green chilli long size chire (cut ) ote diye namiye nebe.

Scrape skin of potol/parwal and toss in salt and little turmeric powder.

Heat Mustard Oil in a Kadhai.

Fry the patol lightly, remove and keep aside.

Temper the same oil with Whole Garam Masala and TejPatta.

Add the finely chopped onion and garlic and saute. Next goes in the ginger paste. fry with a tsp of sugar till onion is soft and browned.

Meanwhile in a bowl add the yogurt, Cumin Poder, Chili powder and littel turmeric powder. Beat well.

Once the onion is done, take the kadhai off the heat  and slowly add the yogurt. At low heat cook add the fried potol and mix well with yogurt and masala.

Add water for gravy, add salt, cover and cook till the potol is done. Once the potol is done add the green chili and switch off heat.
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56 comments:

  1. pics of indian veg markets always make so so homesick and nostalgic. those jamuns, oh my!

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    1. Yeah those jamuns. I love that picture even though I have not had a single jamun in the last 10-11 years.

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  2. Priyanka Saha DeyAugust 09, 2012 11:40 PM

    Ahh..Potol.. One of my fav.. :):)

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  3. A v-e-r-y g-o-o-d post! Great picturisation of ourselves vis a vis the older generations. It is all same for me at least. Regarding Doi potol, recently one day I required the recipe bcoz I had both potol and doi at home and tring to plan the menu for dinner. I searched your blog, didn't find it (instead got stuck into the patisapta :))! then i searched the world wide web and cooked the same. Thank u finally for bringing it forward, thanks to kakima for her recipe.

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    1. Hyaan eikhane organic, local ei shob kore na aro matha kharap hoy. Ar ek dokan e shob paoa o jai na, tai chuto chuti.

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    2. Sandeepa, pesticide to amader chotobelateo chilo. Amra to ato bachor dibbi segulo kheyei bneche borte achi. amio aksamay prochur matha ghamiyechi, organic tag owala daal chaal kintam. akhon money hay sab sales tactics - jani na kon ta thik.

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  4. I love potol, but due to my stay in Chennai its really hard to find this simple yet tasty vegetable. I am really missing all those potol bhaja, potol posto and certainly this lovely recipe of yours ;((.......whenever I visit Kolkata I make sure to eat lots of potol and river fish. Thanks a lot for all the posts that are reviving and spreading our rich food culture.

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    1. Honestly I never liked potol, actually hated it as a child. But now Potol is an exotic vegetable for me as I rarely get it here. No wonder I have developed this sudden love for it :)

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    2. Same for me......in my childhood I used to take this vegetable for granted but since I have come out of Kolkata I got to know how tasty and desirable a simple vegie can be:)

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  5. You know everytime I read your blog.....its kinda make me feel at home.....the things you have said is really true......the way we used to have food or meal during our childhood was more healthier then what we eat today because thats what suits our genes....everything was balanced....ye globalisation has really changed our taste buds and thats why we are now moving towards exercise ,diet control.......fat-free food and blah blah...

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    1. Yes, at times I am really tired of all the studies coming out. But then again it IS hard to live a life like our parents and their parents generation did. We no longer cook everyday or buy fresh groceries each day, the groceries we buy come from far off, they are modified to be better, there is a wide variety of processed food available easily, so it IS necessary to be aware about what we are putting in our body.

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  6. akdom moner katha bolecho Sandeepa. ei kadin agei hubby ke bolchilam je we need to uncomplicate. ato choices, ato information majhe majhe confused lage. tabe sab theke boro chinta oi pesticides er use. amar maa prochur sobzi lagay ar jatota pare pathie day. but at the end of the day amio janina konta thik konta bhul.
    doi patol khub sundor hoeche. khub bhalo lage khete.

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    1. Tomar Ma jeta koren seita to ideal situation Sayantani, oi rokom korte parle shottiy ki bhalo hoto. Bochor bhor jodi nijeder lagano shobji khaoa jay tar cheye bhalo ar ki hoy. Kintu oneker khetre i seita shombhob hoy na

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  7. amader ekhaney (Cambridge UK) ei bochhor no potol :(....Kaku chhobigulo darun tulechhen :)

    Sohini

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    1. Ei shudhu Kaku na, Kakima o ranna koreche...ami fanktale kissu na kore shudhu likhe diyechi :-D Amader eikhane o age potol beshi paoa jeto na, ajkal dekhchi jache paoa

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  8. Absolutely Sandeepa, Probably can't eat half the meals if I were to use grandma rule but I try to stick to the other Pollan five ingredients rule but find it really hard to buy pretty much anything, bread our main staple for breakfast has a minimum of 15 ingredients and I have learned to parse and convince myself :(

    Potol I have never seen or heard but found it in an open air market in Bangalore.

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    1. Yes, I too give in to convenience and do use some processed food. Current hit is the Taquitos and Dumplings from Costco, not good at all but it is tasty and an easy snack :(
      But I try to restrict these days as much as possible.

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  9. Well said :-)..too much of information and we are confused ..but I also try to stick to three rules - as you said - eat more vegetables, less red meat and try to cook as much as one can, and also don't waste food ..potol doi amar jonno noton ..and potol to ekhon sodhu garam kaal e vegetable noye ..it's available all four seasons..bazzar/haat 'er pics khub bhalo hoyeche ..convey thanks to meshumoshayi..hugs

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    1. Hyaan Jaya, amio tomar moton oi tin te korar cheshta kori, in fact maach ta beshi ar je kono mangsho i kom kori. Potol o ajkal shob sjhomoy paoa jaay ?

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  10. I interpret the grandma rule as "Don't eat anything that someone's grandmother wouldn't recognize as food". Meaning it has to be "real food" in some culture, not necessarily mine.

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    1. That is a very intelligent interpretation Nupur. But sometimes I think certain food from some cultures might not be suited to my constitution, like say something as meaty as a "rarely done steak" might not be what my body is used to. But then again adaptation is the key to evolution and I guess human bodies adapt to evolve. You will be the best person to know more on this though.

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  11. I cannot imagine my dad taking such brilliant pictures Sandeepadi. Awesome post. Am sharing just because it narrates so beautifully the entire episode of food becoming a media and a social networking darling. Infact, it's only after I have started blogging that I realised that there are so many people crazy like me who are spending so much of time and effort doing what I'm doing - sharing food stories..

    Has your mom sent the recipe like that 'Prothome potol take bhajar moto ga ( body ) ta cheche niye ektu haldi & salt lagye bheje nite hobe. Then potol ta tule rekhe in that oil, garam masala & tejpata phoron debe. Then ote onion & rosun debe and ginger paste & sugar diye bhjte hobe. Now 1 '... then eta korbe, then ota korbe, then....

    Could actually hear any Bong mom speaking!!!

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    1. yeah she sent it written in Bangla. That she is measuring out so that I can put it on the blog is a miracle in itself

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  12. Great write up! Truly resonates with me…..also u r lucky u get Patol in east coast, ekhane (CA) paoa jai na and its one of my fav. Veggi:(

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    1. CA te potol paoa jai na ? Ar amader Patel Brother bollo oder potol CA theke ashe !

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  13. Yum! I can never get my hands on fresh Parmal here!

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    1. Yes, recently we have been getting a good haul here

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  14. This is exatcly the same way I feel going from no grain to brown rice, local/organic and phase of eat what you feel like. But a very good post

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  15. Oh BTW i am a great fan of your blog but hardly leaves any comment why?? i have no idea. I will always check this blog whats new like i used to wait for my Suktara (a kid magazine i used to love).

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    1. Thanks. My neighbor friends subscribed Shuktara and me, Anandomela. We exchanged and read even the pujabarshiki. Nonte-Fonte and Bantul in Shuktara were major atractions :)

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  16. Sandeepa! Loved the post and the views! :-)
    We forget the seasonal availability and we are losing the ability to process information in many ways.
    And food is part of it.
    Gem of a recipe too!

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    1. Thanks Shri. There is too much to process anyway

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  17. May be we are confused seeing so many choices...Life was really simple earlier...My Dad hates the idea of buying vegetables and fruits from Malls. He relies on local sabji market. Potol is not my fav though I have started developing the taste for it in last few years. Doi potol ta khoob bhalo hoyeche..

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    1. My parents still buy vegetables from the local sellers, not that they are any better in the bigger cities.
      Doi Potol ami banay ni ekhono, eitao Ma baniye, chobi tule pathiyeche

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  18. Hey, i tried this recipe this morning... but the curd cuddled when i added it... it was smelling awesome.. can you please suggest what might have went wrong

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    1. The curd tends to curdle on heating. To get around this is, 1. Beat the curd well 2. Now remove the kadhai off the heat, wait say 30 secs. 3. Add the curd and mix. 4. Wait for say 30 secs again and put it back at low heat 5. At the lowest heat cook the curd and masalas for a minute. 6. Once you add water rasie the heat and continue

      The second way which some people use is to add a tsp of Maida to the curd and beat well before adding. I still go by the remove from heat method

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  19. Hi Sandeepa, you've nailed it. The whole food business has become a complicated matter. I visit your blog very often and love your writing. It reminds of simple pleasures, lazy afternoons listening to radio. Really some of the best days of my life

    Cheers
    Rupa

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    1. Thanks Rupa. Are you the same Rupa who had e-mailed me ?

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  20. Oh, I hear you, I'm now on a cow's ghee kick, substituted only by cold-pressed sesame oil if there's no ghee. The latest gyan (latest in my life) also advises against curds, garlic, mustard and a whole lot of other spices and vegetables I'm fond of. I too visit several stores to buy healthy stuff - loved your para about how you then resort to junk food after shopping at all those various stores, made me giggle as usual.

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  21. Hey Bongmom, I am the student who loved your fish recipes. I have given up learning cooking for now and am good as long as I can whip up a couple of edible dishes.
    But I keep coming back to your blog once in a while when I know there will be lots of posts for me to read. Love the little stories and insights.

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  22. Anon again. Oh, and plus your posts give me a nice, fuzzy and warm feeling when I feel overwhelmed.
    Peace and love.

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  23. Never used Potol, although I see it every time in Indian store. Will try this recipe soon.


    Sandeepa, I need a small help from you. Was trying to get your email id. Would greatly appreciate your help.

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  24. In tamil it is called as Kovakaai, But I like this unique preparation using the vegetable.

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  25. Enjoyed reading your post and all comments. Esp Nupur's hit home... didn't think of it that way. But so true. The doi potol looks delish. Bookmarked.

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  26. MMM Potol its so divine veggy. Love anything cooked with it

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  27. Post ta DARUN likhe cho. Enjoyed reading every bit of it and could relate a lot too! Those jamuns is making me miss home and potol .. i love that veggie and out here I don't get it at all. Amar Ma 'dund potol' banaye .. this recipe me is making me miss that too!

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  28. potol r skin charano ta ki really necessary? 'caz potol er maximum nutritional value kintu or oyee skin-ei thake....

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    1. jayanta, tumi potol er skin charbae na khabe seta puro tomar personal choice.

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  30. I just love your recipes and blog. Being half a Bong (and a mom) and a big foodie (comes with the territory!) your recipes have awoken the sleeping Bong cook in me :)) Seriously, i am a great fan of Bong food but was too nervous to cook it ...was just not able to get the flavors right. But your blog changed all that! I have been trying out your recipes for a couple of weeks now and man, they are GOOD (my hubby too has simply loved the dishes that I've tried so far) So, thank you for the inspiration, a great gastronomical journey and some wonderful memories (of vacations in Calcutta, and my thakuma's ranna)!

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  31. making your doi patol today for your iformation

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  32. Being bought up in Kolkata and having travelled to so many places around the world and now settled in new york,I must admit that there is no comparison to food made in Kolkata either the roadside dhabas at Park street( the chilli chicken never taste better anywhere) or dakars lane to the everyday normal food or at umpteen bengali weddings( remember the radha vallabhi). The sight of so many vegetables and beautifuly stacked fruits of all sizes and shapes and colors and of course the vegetables are much more tastier( maybe its due to the soil) and the chandramukhi aloos...oh my simply irresistable. I have done a fair share of vegetable picking at the bazaars in kolkata and these pictures come back to me with a lot of nostalgia. Watermelons at 5rs/kg and aloo at 2rs./kg..scrumptious meals made so simply and so tasty and healthy. Thank you Didi for bringing back yesterday memories

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  33. I love the way you put down the recipes , i can very well relate to you, since being a bengali have been imbibed with the same principles. Your recipes comes so handy and fast when i am looking for healthy cooking with less oil and masala. Superb keep it up !

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