Happy new Year People !!! Its a bit late, I know, but we are still in the first quarter of the year. So do accept my super late wishes. Hopefully the year started with a bang for everyone. It almost did for me. I am planning a trip to india, and what can be a bigger high than that !!

 Its been ages since I wrote. So today I said to myself, lets write. Even though I am still in the middle of cooking, I convinced myself that I can type away.

I have been cooking almost every alternate day. Also diligently taking photographs. But when it comes to putting it all together, I have been a tad lazy. So I am not going to bring on the new Mom cribbing anymore, as its more than 10 months. So I thought, why not begin this year's writing quota with a very popular Bengali delicacy: Potoler Dolma . Don't confuse it with the Greek Dolma. It something totally different. Cored pointed gourd, are stuffed and then they are simmered in a rich gravy.Its one of those dishes, which you cannot make everyday, as it involves some prep work and time. But surely something, which every Bengali worth her/his salt, loves without a doubt.

We do not get Potol at our neighborhood grocery store, so we have to wait for it, till we drive down to the desi/Indian stores. Whenever we do manage to go there on Fridays, we pick it up. Why only Friday, you might ask?! Well, the fresh stock of vegetables comes in on Friday afternoons, with treats like Potol or baby Okra. And if you are late, or act lazy, then they just fly off the shelves, in no time. So sometimes picking up mere veggies you grew up with, needs almost a Game-Day like prep. After all this trouble(read: Co-orodinating Baby's schedule with all this madness), if we can lay our hands on some Potol, we try and make something special. So that at least its worth the trouble. While Potol can be cooked numerous ways, the more tedious recipe, is my favorite: Potoler Dolma.

When it comes to the choice of stuffing,sky is the limit. You can customize it, while keeping with the basic Bengali flavors. You can either keep it vegetarian, or do otherwise. While the obvious choice is cooking the cored out insides of the Potol with some shredded coconut, mustard paste, chili powder and then grinding it all together. That makes for a pretty decadent stuffing or sure. But if you are like, you will surely up the ante a bit more. How does Chopped Shrimp sound? It just spells magic in this particular preparation. So lets not waste any more time, and let the pictures do the talking.


Potol/Pointed gourd: 10-12
Prawns: A handful
Mustard paste: 1 to 2  tbsp(according to how hot you want it to be)
Red chili Powder: According to Heat preferences. If you still want the color but not as much heat, then use Paprika.
Shredded Coconut: Frozen/Fresh: 1/4 cup
Coriander Powder
Mustard Oil
Cumin seeds: 2 tsp
Tomato Paste: 2 tbsp
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Onion-Ginger-Garlic Paste: 2 tbsp


Scrape the pointed gourd in alternate stripes. Be careful not to remove the whole skin.Scrape out the shiny green bit of skin. With a knife, cut at one end, and use a spoon to core out the vegetable. Keep the seeds and the innards in a separate plate.

Heat Mustard oil in a large non stick pan, and lightly fry the cored out Potol. Remove and keep aside. Ensure that the potol is still soft and pliable. Let it cool down.

In the same oil, add in the cored out seeds and flesh, coriander powder, red chili powder, shredded coconut(if using), prawns and onion ginger garlic paste. Fry these on a medium heat, stirring frequently, Season it well.

After a few minutes, add in the mustard paste and mix everything well. Cook this mixture through.

Remove the mixture from the stove top and let it cool down. Blend it all together to form a smooth paste. And then fry it once more for a couple of minutes if you feel it has not been cooked through.

The puree and the fried potol should have both cooled by now. Stuff the potol carefully.

Now in the same pan, start making the gravy or the sauce for the Potol. Add in some mustard oil, and let the cumin seeds splutter. Add in the tomatoes paste, salt, Coriander Powder, Ginger paste and fry the masala well for a couple of minutes.  You can add in a few spritzes of water if you feel your masala might get burnt.

Add in water for a gravy and let it all come to a boil. Carefully introduce the Potol and reduce to a simmer.

Check or seasonings. Let the gravy reduce to a thick consistency and should ideally stick to the potol. Turn off the heat, and serve with hot steamed Basmati rice.

Bon Appetit !!! 

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