Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Alu Potol er Dalna

I didn't think anyone but Indian's ate Potol(Bengali) or Parwal (Hindi), so I was quite surpised to find it even has an English name. A quick search on Google reveals that is called Pointed Gourd in English. Anyway, having grown up in Mumbai (it was called Bombay in those days), this has been a vegetable we rarely had at home. My father would complain the potol being sold in the vegetable market looked more like baby tinda (another vegetable that looks like potol but is much smaller. I don’t know what it's English equivalent is) and shake his head muttering about how much better the large potol's he grew up eating looked.

Now 2 of my Pishis (Father's sisters) are cancer survivors, and they visit Mumbai for their annual check at Tata Memorial. Each time they came over they would bring at least a kilo of gigantic potols which we would all enjoy either deep fried or made into a "dalna". I must admit I never much liked it as child, but it has been many years since I had eaten potol and absence makes the heart grow finder, so I could not resist picking up a packet when I saw them in the frozen section of the local Indian grocery store. Here's my version of Alu Potol er dalna or Parwal ki sabzi.

Sia had a question about Potol, so I have added a photo of the packet I bought which shows what potol looks like. Hope this makes it easier to distinguish it from Tinda.

1 lb (frozen packet) Potol.
2 medium potatoes (cut like thick potato wedges sort of to be similar in size to the potol)
1.5 tbsp ginger paste
2.5 tbsp jeera (cumin) powder
1/2 tbsp dhania (coriander) powder
1 medium tomato (chopped fine)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar (optional)
red chilly powder and salt to taste
pinch of fresh garam masala powder

Defrost the packet of Potol
Mix the ginger, jeera, dhania and turmeric with ~ 1tsp water to make a paste
Fry the Potol pieces till they start becoming light brown. Remove from heat and keep aside.
To the same oil, add the chopped tomato (can replace with about 1tbsp canned tomato sauce if you are out of fresh ones) and potato pieces.
After this add the masala paste, salt and continue to fry till the oil comes out of the masala, the potatoes are cooked and well coated with the masala.
Bengali's add a little sugar at this time.
Add Potol pieces mix well with the masala.
Add a little water (depending on how dry or wet you'd like the end result to be), bring to a boil and let it simmer till it well cooked and the gravy is slightly thick.
Add garam masala and cover till you turn off the flame.

The Bengali garam masala is not exactly what we buy at the Indian stores. For typical Bengali cooking I make my own by dry grinding equal parts of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Coriander Chicken or "Dhania Chicken"

Coriander Chicken, Cilantro Chicken, Dhania Chicken or Dhoney paatha chicken - what’s in a name? This is a recipe from my Choto Pishi (my father's youngest sister). She is an amazingly good cook and has quite a repertoire of recipes that are traditional and yet quite unusual. She loves to cook and a lot of her recipes involve many ingredients and many hours in the kitchen. When she learnt about my blog she sent my mother this recipe fto give me, as an easy but delicious one to try. It was quite simple really, I had ginger paste I make beforehand for the whole week, I chopped the garlic, onions and coriander leaves together in the chopper and there wasn't much other prep work for this recipe. It was a welcome change from the usual chicken dishes I make at home.

1 lb chicken
~3/4 bunch of cilantro
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 large sized onion (when chopped came to a little less than 1 cup)
6 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp red chilly powder (I reduced this, if you can use more to your taste to make it a bit spicy)
salt to taste
~ 1/3 cup oil or maybe a few drops more

Make a paste of ginger, garlic, cilantro. Mix with chopped onions, yogurt and salt. Marinade chicken in this and keep in the refrigerator for 3 hrs or longer.
Heat oil and add the chicken and marinade together. As soon as it starts to boil reduce the heat and let it simmer till oil separates from the masala and chicken is fully cooked. Do not add any water, it is meant to be a somewhat dry dish.

Enjoy with rice or rotis!