Potol Bhaja is a very simple classic Bengali dish that is served with daal at the beginning of the meal. It's crispy because of the seeds but as you bite, it is soft and tastes amazing. Growing up, I was picky with vegetables, but Potol was my all-time favorite.
What is Potol Bhaja?
Potol is Pointed Gourd and a very famous summer vegetable in Kolkata. It is sometime the star of the dish and sometimes plays a side role, with a few other veggies. It is called Parwal in Hindi
Out here in the US, I don't find Potol that frequently. Also, these are never as big as the ones I ate growing up back in India. But something is better than nothing, right!
One of my absolute fav way to enjoy this vegetable is to just slit in half, add salt turmeric and fry it. I love the crunch you get from the seeds.
Am so glad that now my son loves Potol Bhaja too.
Pointed Gourd and Ivy Gourd are different!
I have come across a recipe of potol bhaja where they use Ivy Gourd instead of Pointed Gourd. This is incorrect as both the vegetable tastes completely different.
Ivy Gourd known as kundru in Hindi may look like a baby version of Pointed Gourd (Potol/Parwal) but tastes nothing like Potol.
So don't get confused between the two.
Cleaning the Pointed Gourd (Potol/Parwal)
This particular vegetable had a hard skin with soft flesh inside and edible crunchy seeds in between.
The skin of the vegetable is edible and doesn't need to be peeled completely, but I like to scrape off a little by using a small knife.
Trim off the edges, scrape off the peel gently as shown in the video, and then slice in half.
Frying Potol Bhaja
As you fry the pointed gourd, it will tend to puff a little, and you want to be careful as sometimes, the seeds can pop out while frying.
Once it's fried to golden brown, and cools down, the fried pointed gourd will shrink down a little.
It tastes best when served warm with rice and daal.
List of Bengali Recipes to try!
- 20 pointed gourds (potol/parwal)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- Oil to fry
- Trim the edges off the pointed gourds, then using a pairing knife, carefully scrape the outer layer of the skin, instead of peeling completely.
- Then slice the gourds in half
- Add salt and turmeric and give it a mix. Leave aside for 15 minutes.
- In a skillet on medium heat, pour the oil and layer the pointed gourds, seed side down. Fry for 4 minutes and then flip and fry for 2 minutes. Keep the heat medium to medium low, so it doesn't get burnt.
- Enjoy Potol bhaja warm with rice and daal.