Potol’er Dorma or stuffed potol (pointed squash) in sauce
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Stuffed potol (pointed squash) in a rice sauce
Potol’er dorma is a Bengali dish that is said to come from the dolmeh or dolma of Ottoman cuisine. Some say that Armenian traders brought it to Bengal, where it evolved to its present form. A typical potol’er dorma recipe is to stuff the pointed squash with lentils, coconut, dried fruit, cottage cheese, fish or meat and then simmer it in a sauce.
This particular variation is a family favorite, where a firm white fish like bhetki or rohu is used for garnish, along with small shrimp for flavor. You can use any non-fatty fish you like, as long as it doesn’t have too many bones. It’s a perfect recipe to serve with plain rice or pulao when you want to impress your guests.
100 g of bhetki fillet (Asian seabass or barramundi)
40 g (4 tablespoons) mustard oil
10g (6-8 pcs) cashews
100 g (2 medium) onions (sliced)
10 g (6 to 8 cloves) garlic (minced)
2 teaspoons of Kashmiri red pepper powder
5 g (1 tsp.) Ginger paste
10 g (10-12 pcs) raisins
3 green peppers (finely chopped)
175 g (2 large) potatoes
30 g (5 tablespoons) mustard oil
100 g (2 medium) onion (paste)
10 g (6-8 cloves) garlic (paste)
1 teaspoon of Kashmiri red pepper powder
1 tablespoon of charmagaz (mixture of melon seeds)
2 green peppers (split)
¼ teaspoon garam masala bengali (dry roasted powder made from cloves, cardamom and cinnamon)
This dish is made with a special type of jumbo (pointed squash) potol, specially designed for dorma. They’re large enough to allow us to remove the insides and stuff it liberally, and its sides are thick enough to withstand all the scratching, stuffing, frying, and simmering in the sauce.
We use bhetki fillet in the stuffing, but you can use any large non-fatty fish you find. Alternatively, instead of the fillet, you can also use fish with bones. Remember to remove them while shredding the fish later.
Step 1: Preparation of Potol (pointed squash)
Wash the potol well and scrape the outer grainy layer. You don’t peel the potol, you just scrape the outermost layer.
Cut the wide end of the potol off, about half an inch from the top. Do not throw away the ends.
Now, using the back of a spoon, remove the inner flesh and seeds as best you can. (You can keep the inside and grind them into a smooth paste, to use in the filling.)
Thoroughly coat the potol shells and the salt caps.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of mustard oil and fry the shells over high heat until golden brown on all sides. Put aside.
Once all the shells are fried, fry the caps as well and set aside.
Step 2: prepare the filling
Marinate the fish and shrimp with a little salt. Fry them in oil, about 30 seconds per side. Put aside.
Use half of the sliced onions to make birista (fried onions). When they start to brown, remove them from the oil and spread them out to cool.
(To make birista you would need at least 2 to 3 large raw onions, sliced evenly thin. Pat them dry. Heat the oil in a pan until hot enough. batch sliced onion. Fry until golden – soft, caramel flavor. Remove, drain on paper towel. Can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for about a week.)
In the same oil, also brown the cashews. Once browned, set them aside.
Now add the remaining onions to the pan and sauté over medium heat until softened (about 6 minutes)
Add the garlic paste and continue frying.
Add the red chilli and Kashmiri red chili powders directly to the pan and let them fry for 20 seconds before adding the tomatoes.
Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the spices: cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and ginger paste. Braise them over low heat, adding a drizzle of water when the pan is dry.
Meanwhile, separate the heads of the fried shrimp and squeeze their juice into the pan. Finely chop the shrimp.
Shred the fried fish fillet using your hands.
Once the spices are well braised, this is when the oil begins to float to the surface, add the fish and shrimp. Continue cooking until you have a dry mixture.
Add the fried cashews (coarsely chopped), raisins (coarsely chopped) and green peppers (finely chopped).
Mix everything together, remove the filling from the heat and spread it out on a plate to let it cool.
When cool, stuff the fried potol shells with generous amounts of the filling. Cover the ends with the caps you kept, securing them in place with wooden toothpicks.
Before you start, soak the charmagaz and cashews in hot water.
Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters.
Heat the mustard oil and fry the potatoes until golden (about 5 minutes). Put aside.
Temper the oil with dried red peppers, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin seeds.
Add the onion paste and sauté over medium heat until browned.
Add the garlic paste and sauté for a few more minutes before adding the rest of the spices: ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, red pepper and Kashmiri red pepper.
Braise the spices, add splashing water, until their raw smell disappears and the oil begins to float upward (about 10 minutes).
Add the ginger paste and split the green peppers, and continue to braise.
Meanwhile, grind the soaked charmagaz and cashew nuts into a smooth paste.
Add it to the pan with the whisked yogurt. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add 200 ml of hot water. Also add salt and sugar at this point.
Once boiling, place the stuffed potol and the fried potato wedges.
Simmer over low heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until the potol and potatoes have softened.
Finish with ghee and garam masala bengali. Cover and let stand 2 minutes before serving.
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