To be honest, this is not a strictly Calcuttan food. But it does happen to be among my favourites. Actually for this post, I was flipping a coin between this, and something with Prawns. But to save myself from the ire of my "strictly-vegan" friends, I decided to pacify them first!
Bengali name? Potol Posto. And before you tie up your tongue trying to pronounce it, the translation : Parval with poppy seed paste. Since I'm not sure if I can convince you what Parval or Parwal or Potol or Pointed Gourd or stripped Gourd is, it looks like this:I actually found out all these names for the humble vegetable on the net, so I thought it best you see and decide for yourself what you call it, since personally I have never called it anything but Potol.
Anyway, coming back to the dish. One of the main reasons of me loving it is the ease with which it can be prepared. My dad used to rustle it up in about 20 minutes. Rice, milk and potol posto used to be the perfect meal for a very sleepy me on the days when dinner got late with both parents working long hours at the hospital.
So listing out the ingredients :
- Potol/Parval - 500 g
- Posto/Poppy seeds - 1/2 cup
- Onions- chopped
- Green Chillies - 2
- Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
- Red Chilli powder - 1/4 tsp (optional, if you like the heat. I don't.)
I remember seeing the poppy plants cultivated in rows along the fields of other staple food when I used to go over to my grandmother's place in the village. I loved the radiant hues. The house is no more, and neither are my trips, but I hope the colours still are there, for some other pair of wonder-filled eyes.
For the poppy seeds, soak then in water for about 2 hours, then grind along with the chillies into a thick paste with as little water as possible. The mixer grinder will serve you well, but even better if you can use the traditional method. I know, I know, takes way too much time!
Peel off the stripe gourd and give a slit lengthwise, rub with salt and turmeric. Heat oil in a pan and saute them in low flame until soft. Fry onions in the oil for 2 minutes, add turmeric, chilli powder, poppy seed paste and salt. Little sugar too, if you please.Add the veggies, cover for 5 minutes, remove, serve with rice.
And then, enjoy. But you weren't waiting for me to say that, were you, now?