Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Potol er Dolma | Potoler Dorma | Stuffed Pointed Gourd

Potoler Dolma | Potol er Dorma | Stuffed PointedGourd

Potol er Dolma | Potoler Dorma | Stuffed Pointed Gourd

The word Dolma, from the Turkish verb Dolmak, means to be filled and refers to all kinds of stuffed food in the Ottoman cuisine, the most popular being stuffed grape leaves. The Persians call it Dolmeh. The Bengalis call it Dolma or even Dorma. Potoler Dolma or Dorma is a very popular Bengali dish made with the summer vegetable potol or pointed gourd. It is believed that dolma came to Bengali households holding the hands of Armenian families who were originally from Persia and had followed the trade route to finally settle in Chinsurah, near Kolkata. While the original Dolma was stuffed with minced meat and rice as mentioned earlier, the fusion potol’r dolma in Bengali households was stuffed with minced meat, fish and even a vegetarian stuffing of paneer and coconut.

Potoler Dolma is the kind of dish that always, always reminds you of your grandmother and her kitchen. A slightly hunched figure, sitting on the kitchen floor, on a raised wooden plank called pinri, her gnarly fingers expertly stuffing hollowed out potols (pointed gourd) , which would then be lightly fried and simmered in a gravy. I don't know how my Dida felt about making Potol er Dorma or where she learned it from. It was not really an easy task and since it was always made when there was a house full of people, there were lots of Potols to scrape and stuff. She cooked happily, tired but satisfied, and we thought it was given that she would make Potol er Dolma for us.

My Mother prepping Potol

More than the potol or pointed gourd, I loved the stuffing that went in it. My Dida's standard stuffing for Potoler Dorma would be made with fish. Fish filet was not easily available in North Kolkta in those days and my Dida steamed pieces of Rohu, deboned them patiently and then made a delicious stuffing with the fish. Usually when she was making a large batch of Potoler Dorma for the whole family, my mom or one of the aunts was delegated to make the stuffing. But rest of the Dolma was always hers and hers alone.

Ma stuffing the Potol. This stuffing was made of Ricotta as I was too lazy to make Chhana

Unlike my grandmother, I never ever make Potol er Dorma when there is a house full of people. I want to hold on to my lyaad-quuen crown and cooking difficult stuff for a crowd doesn't get you one!
So it is always made in small quantity for the family and then depending on the availability of the right size Potol(Pointed Gourd) in our Patel. I think I made it multiple times a few years back in 2019, while writing "Those Delicious Letters" as there was a chapter around this dish. This summer I made it once more. My mother was surprised and couldn't believe her eyes that I was doing such a thing !!

Now what I have realized is with a dish like this if you can break it down into smaller tasks, it is much easier to do. 
1. Day 1/Task 1 -- Make the stuffing. Depending on your choice you can make a niramish stuffing with chhana/paneer or  amish stuffing with fish or keema. Refrigerate and make sure no one eats it.
2. Day 2/Task 2 --  Make the base for the gravy/curry. Scrape the potol, Peel in alternate strips, hollow it out, wrap it in a damp cloth and refrigerate.
3. Day 3/Task 3 --  Fry and stuff the potol. Finish the gravy. Simmer the potol in the gravy. 

There are two things I do to make stuffing the potol more easy

1. I first sauté the potol, cool and stuff. In the original recipe, the raw potol is stuffed and then fried. There is a chance that the stuffing might come out if you do this so I do the sauteing first.
2. I try to make my stuffing with a very smooth texture, so that it kind of sits nicely inside the potol and doesn't  spill out. My Dida would securely tie the potol but I don't do that and so far it has been fine.

Hope you make this dish at least once to see what a star Mr. Potol Babu can be too. I have shared the recipe for both the vegetarian Paneer stuffing OR the Fish stuffing, you can use either.

Potol er Dolma | Potoler Dorma | Stuffed Pointed Gourd


Potol/Parwal/Pointed Gourd − 12-14

Vegetarian/Niramish Stuffing the Potol

Fresh homemade Chhana/Paneer (crumbled) – 1 cup 
Note: I have used Ricotta Cheese instead of fresh Paneer and it works beautifully
Grated Coconut − 1⁄2 cup 
Onion - quarter of an onion chopped (optional)
Green chili − 2
Salt− 1⁄2 tsp
Sugar − 1 Tbsp 
Raisins – 1 Tbsp
Bhaja masala − 1 tsp lightly packed (dry roast 1 tsp whole cumin,
1 tsp whole coriander powder and 1 dry red chili and then grind
to a powder)
Vegetable oil

Fish/Aamish Stuffing for the Potol

Fish Filet -- 2 filet of Tilpia/Bhetki/Cod
Potato - 1 small boiled and mashed
Onion - 1/2 Onion chopped
Green Chili - 2
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Salt− 1⁄2 tsp
Sugar − 1 Tbsp 
Raisins – 1 Tbsp
Bhaja masala − 1 tsp lightly packed (dry roast 1 tsp whole cumin,
1 tsp whole coriander powder and 1 dry red chili and then grind
to a powder)
Vegetable oil

For Making the Gravy

Tomato – 2 medium 
Ginger – 2" knobs grated 
Green chili – 2
Put all the above in blender and make a puree.

Turmeric powder − 1⁄4 tsp 
Kashmiri Red Chili powder − 1⁄2 tsp
Cumin powder − 1/2 tsp 
Coriander powder − 1/2 tsp
Mix the above powders in 1 Tbsp of yogurt and keep it aside.

Cashew − 2 Tbsp. Soak in water for 10 mins and then make a
thick paste.
Salt to taste
Sugar − 2 tsp
Mustard oil − 2 Tbsp
Ghee/clarified butter − 1 tsp

Spices For Tempering

Green cardamom− 2
Cloves − 2
Bay leaf − 2
Whole dry red chili – 2


Prepping the Potol

Wash and dry the potol. Chop off the tip from both the ends of the potol. Scrape the skin very lightly
using a peeler or knife, so that the thick skin is removed and pale green stripes remain.With a scraper or
metal spoon handle, carefully scoop out the seeds of pointed gourds from inside. Keep those aside for
later use.

Making the Paneer stuffing mixture
Make a paste of grated coconut, green chili and seeds of potol in the food processor.
Grind to a coarse paste adding splashes of water, as needed.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a frying pan. Add the coconut paste. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the
crumbled paneer, raisins, bhaja masala, salt and sugar. 
Note: If using Ricotta instead of Paneer, you have to saute it for a longer time to make sure that the water evaporates. 

Mix and sauté until the stuffing is cooked and does not stick to the sides.
With your fingers, mix the stuffing gently to make the texture uniform.

Making the Fish stuffing mixture

Cook the fillet of fish in the MW for 5-6 minutes. I would suggest do it in intervals of 3 minutes each. I had Tilapia fillet which was frozen and it took me 6 minutes to cook it fully. Yours might take like 3-4 minutes.

Cook one small potato whole in the MW. Prick the potato with a fork mercilessly and then wrap in a plastic cling wrap. Zap in the MW for Baked Potato setting which is like 3 minutes.Once the potato has cooled, peel and mash it. With your hand mix the fish and potatoes to make a smooth mix

In a big mixing bowl put the cooked fish, breaking and crumbling it. Add 1 tsp of lime juice.

Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a frying pan. Add 1 clove of garlic minced. When fragrant, fry about 1 cup of onion till it is soft and browns on the edges. Add 1 tsp of Garlic paste, 1 tsp of Ginger paste, 4 green chili chopped fine and fry for couple more minutes.

In a mixer jar add 
the cooked and crumbled fish
the onion-garlic-ginger-chili from the pan
seeds scraped out from the Potol
Give a whizz to make a paste.
Take it out in a bowl

Next add
1 tsp of fresh Garam Masala
1/2 tsp of Paprika (or Red Chili Powder if you want it hot)
salt to taste
15-20 golden raisins
a little sugar
Mashed potato

Mix everything well with hand till you get a smooth dough like mix.

Stuffing the potol

Heat mustard oil in a deep-frying pan or kadhai.
Shallow fry the potol until they start to turn light brown in colour. Sprinkle salt while frying. Remove and keep aside. Fill them with the stuffing, gently pressing in with your fingers, making sure that the potol innards are tightly packed.
Usually if your stuffing has a smooth texture, there is no need to close the open end. My grandmother used to 

Making the Gravy

Heat mustard oil in a kadhai or any other thick-bottomed deep frying pan.
Temper the oil with all the spices listed under ‘For tempering’, previously
Add the tomato + ginger + chili puree. Sauté till there is no raw smell.
Add the cashew paste and the spice paste. Sprinkle a little water into it and cook for two to three
Add about one and a half cups of water. Add salt and sugar to taste and let the gravy come to a slow
simmer. Gently add the stuffed potol to the gravy, arranging them in a single layer in it.
Cover and cook at low-medium flame for almost ten minutes.
Once the vegetable is done, add a sprinkle of garam masala, half tsp of ghee and gently mix. Serve with
hot white rice.

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