Bengali Potoler Dolma / Stuffed Pointed Gourd
Potoler dolma / bharwan parwal or stuffed pointed gourd is one of the classic dish in Bengali cuisine. Whereby the stout pointed gourds are variously stuffed with prawns or grated coconut or minced meat or boneless fish and even with lentils and paneer. Options are many and it taste uber delicious whichever way you follow to stuff them.
What Is Dolma ?
The word “dolma “has its root in Turkish language. “Dolma “refers to any kind of stuffed vegetable which are hallowed or scooped out and are filled with minced meat, or vegetables. So the tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants and likes, all become dolma dishes.
Dolma is the cuisine of former Ottoman Empire and neighboring regions and with time it invaded the Mediterranean region and south Asia too. So the Greeks, Portuguese, Libyan, Azerbaijan, Turks, Iraqis, Albanians, Armenians, Iranians, Syrians all have their own variant of dolma. Be it stuffing the vegetables or wrapping with vine or cabbage leaves (which was actually known as “sarma” and later merged with dolma).
How Bengal Got It’s Famous Potoler Dolma ?
Calcutta, was then the capital of India. Hot spot for seafaring maritime. So it may have come through Portuguese or Dutch or may have some Armenian connections (who had made Calcutta as their second home). And with time infused with the Bengali cuisine by absorbing the local flavor and evolving into a new dish but retaining the original name.
For generations after generations people in Bengal relish dolma which they love to prepare on special occasions. Potol being native to the soil and most favored vegetable among the Bengalis, it gets all the special attentions. Thus came Potoler Dolma in existence.
The stuffed pointed gourds cooked in light onion ginger gravy so that it can be eaten with rice, the staple diet of Bengal.
How To Make Potoler Dolma / Stuffed Pointed Gourd / Bharwan Parwal ?
Potol (Bengali) = Pointed Gourd (English) = Parwal (Hindi)
Potol / parwal is a very popular summer vegetable in Bengal and in other eastern states of India. Long, slender and dainty looking parwals are stuffed with variety of filling and then simmered in cumin scented onion-ginger base gravy. Tomatoes are traditionally not used in this recipe. Same goes with any Bengali vegetarian dishes, where tomatoes still find it hard to enter the Bengali kitchen.
Depending upon the kind of stuffing, the base of the gravy varies. For instance, if you are using lentils or paneer to stuff the parwals, I generally do not use onions in the gravy. I try to keep it No Onion No Garlic recipe, that can be enjoyed during fasting seasons too.
What Are The Different Variations Of Potoler Dolma ?
Potol / parwal / pointed gourd is one versatile vegetable that absorbs any flavours beautifully and can be made in many ways. So as this potoler dolma which can be cooked and enjoyed in many ways. Both nir-amish (vegetarian) way and a-amish (Non-vegetarian) ways.
Vegetarian (Niramish) Potoler Dolma –
1.Coconut stuffing which I have shared here is my most favourite one. And this is our heirloom recipe too. My grandma used this stuffing to make the most delicious potoler dolma I ever had.
2.Paneer or mashed chenna is another popular version. When I make make this version, as I have mentioned before, I do not use the onions in the gravy. Gravy is simply the cumin-ginger paste base, very popular curry base in Bengali cuisine.
3.Cholar dal or Bengal gram stuffing (mashed) is another variation that you can try.
Non-Vegetarian (Aamish) Potoler Dolma –
1.Sea food filling, primarily minced prawn or minced fish, specially the rohu fish mince. This is how my mom makes potoler dolma. Potol or pointed gourds are stuffed with prawn coconut onion mixture and this one taste really outstanding. Arguably my most favourite way of enjoying potoler dolma.
Using this same recipe, you can make this prawn stuffed potoler dolma / bharwan parwal.
2.Ground meat or mutton keema is another fabulous choice for making potoler dolma and no doubt that this one too taste fantastic.
Want To Try More Parwal / Pointed Gourd Recipes ? Here is Potoler Malai Curry / Pointed Gourd In Coconut Milk.
Bengali Potoler Dolma / Stuffed Pointed Gourd / Bharwan Parwal
- 6-8 Potol (pointed gourd, long and slender in shape
- 1 Cup Coconut grated
- 1 Onion (medium, sliced)
- ½ Cup Raisins and Cashew nuts
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1 tsp Green chilies, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Cumin paste (made out of roasted cumin seeds)
- 1 tbsp Ginger paste
- 2 tbsp Onion paste, optional
- ½ tsp Red chili paste (use 1/2 tsp if it is very spicy)
- 1 tsp Garam masala paste
- 1-2 Bay leaves
- 3-4 Cardamom
- 3 tbsp Mustard Oil (as required)
- Salt and Sugar to taste
- ¾ Cup Water
- Wash the potol or the pointed gourd and scrape the skin very lightly and carefully so as not to distort its shape.
- Now cut one end of the potol in a circular disc and big enough to insert the tail of teaspoon or your finger. Now with the help of a spoon or finger scooped out the seeds thoroughly and washed the inside of it. Smear it with salt and leave for few minutes.
Make The Stuffing
- Cut half the onion into thin slices and make a paste of the other half (if using the onion paste).
- Dry roast the cumin seeds (3 tsp) and grind it in mortar and pestle and make a paste out of it with little water.
- For garam masala you can roast few cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon and grind them together. Or else use the commercial one.
- Meanwhile heat some oil in a pan and lightly fry the sliced onion. Once it become translucent add the scraped coconut along with the raisins and cashew nuts.
- Fry them till the coconut slightly changes its color to light brown and add salt and sugar (skip sugar if coconut is sweet) to taste.
- Add the cumin powder and green chillies, fry them for a while and if requires add little water. Take it out from the pan and cool it to room temperature.
- Next add some oil in the pan and lightly fry the pointed gourd / parwals till they turn light brown in color. Take it out and cool it to room temperature.
- Stuff the potols / parwals up to its neck carefully and tightly with the above mentioned stuffing and keep them aside.
- Heat some oil in pan and add the bay leaves and cardamoms. Add the onion paste, ginger paste and fry for a while. Next add the cumin paste, red chilli paste, garam masala and saute them. Fry till the oil oozes out. Adjust the seasonings and add 1/2 cup water. Put the stuffed potols in it and simmer on low heat till the gourds are soft and gravy thickens.
- Drizzle some ghee over it.Serve the potoler dolma or dorma with plain white rice or pulao.