Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals

Bengali Cooking

By Chitrita Banerji

Published 1997

  • About

The second great summer vegetable, patol, tends to drive most Bengalis into ecstasy. The eyes of a beautiful Bengali woman are often compared to halved patols. A small oval gourd, some 10-15 cm (4-6 in) long, fat in the middle and tapering at both ends, with dark green peel striped longitudinally in a lighter shade of green and creamy firm flesh inside, it is much firmer and less watery than the lau. The riper the patol, the harder its seeds, something the true aficionado loves. Excellent fried unpeeled as an accompaniment to rice and dal, or peeled and cut into pieces in jhols and chachcharis or even rich dalnas, or left whole with the seeds and part of the flesh taken out through a hole at one end and a stuffing of fish or meat put inside to make a dolma, the patol is essential summer eating. And in this the Bengali has the unequivocal support of Ayurvedic theory, which finds the patol to be light and digestive, a curative for worms, fevers, coughs, wind and bile, as well as pleasing to the mind. I have seen canned patol (labelled parwal, the Hindi term) for sale in some Indian grocery shops in the UK and the US. Though their taste will be nothing like that of the fresh vegetable, they are the only substitutes for the following recipe, since other gourd-like vegetables in the West are much too watery for an approximation of taste and texture.