Pointed Gourds in Bengali & Indian Cooking Explained

In India, pointed gourd or parwal is also called green potatoes. It’s usually cultivated in eastern India, particularly in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

Pointed gourd belongs to the family of vile plants, just like squash and cucumber but unlike them, it’s perennial. The plant has heart-shaped leaves. The dioecious plant (both male and female plants) grows on trellis.

Pointed gourd is green with no or white stripes. They come in different sizes. It thrives in moderately warm to hot and humid climates.

Cooking Pointed Gourd

Uses of Pointed Gourds in Bengali and Indian Cuisines

Pointed gourds find some interesting uses in Bengali cuisines. It is somehow not very popular in other Indian cuisines and mostly used to make mixed curries or achar (pickles).

However, the otherwise ignored vegetable has received a grand welcome in Bengali cuisines.

In Bengal, they are cooked in different ways. You can use them to prepare soup, stews, curries, pickles and sweets.

In Bengal, a pointed gourd is called patal. Bengalis use the vegetable to prepare an amazing variety of veg dishes. Aloo-potaler tarkari (Potato and pointed gourd curry) is a traditional Bengali veg dish.

The dish is prepared with the commonly used spices such as turmeric, chilli, cumin and coriander.

Sometimes, garam masala is added for spicier flavour. The dish is served with roti or luchi but also goes well with boiled rice.

Aloo-parwal sabji is also a famous recipe in Punjab. However, they make it in a different way.

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The end result is dry. The tangy and tasty dish is served with rotis and phulkas.

Tel potol is another flavoursome dish in Bengal. In Bengali, tel means oil. The pointed gourds are fried in mustard oil.

Fresh green chillies and nigella seeds are added. Salt, sugar and turmeric powder go into preparing the dish.

It is a light curry that feels truly smooth on the tummy. It’s a perfect meal for summer time.

Chaal patol (pointed gourd in aromatic rice) is a popular Bengali dish.

This traditional vegetable delicacy is prepared with pointed gourds slowly cooked in aromatic rice (gobindobhog rice) and with some common powdered Indian spices.

Some dry spices such as bay leaves, cinnamons, cardamoms and cloves are also used for added flavours.

Salt, sugar and some generous dollops of ghee give the dish a divine twist and taste.

Potoler malai curry is an innovative preparation usually reserved for a lunch or dining extravaganza on some special festivals and occasions.

The soft pointed gourds are slow cooked in rich and flavourful coconut milk and onion paste.

The dish is generously flavoured with bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamons and cloves.

The dish is a vegan version of chingrir malai curry (prawn malai curry), another traditional dish from Bengal.

Potoler dorma is another popular dish. It is usually made on special occasions or cooked for the guests.

The pointed gourds are peeled, slit on one side and seeds are removed. They are properly boiled.

Stuffing is prepared with grated paneer, khoya, raisins, crushed cashews etc and used to fill the hollow inside of the pointed gourds.

Sometimes, stuffing is made with pasted poppy seeds, removed parhal seeds, mustard seeds, sugar and a little bit of salt. The pointed gourds are tied carefully and deeply fried.

A fragrant curry is prepared with onions, ginger, tomatoes, cashew paste and other commonly available Indian spices.

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Garam masala and dry spices such as cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves make it more flavourful whereas crunchy bites of crushed pistachios, almonds and cashew nuts take the taste to another level.

Garnished with coriander leaves, Potoler dorma can give a tough competition to any popular non-veg dish in India.

The story of Bengali cuisines with pointed gourd remain incomplete without a mention of doi potol.

If pointed gourds are the main attraction in the recipe, finely whisked curd with flavourful spices definitely creates the backdrop.

The lightly fried pointed gourds are languidly cooked in the bed of whisked yogurt and flavoured with commonly used dry spices, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder.

Ghee is added for enhanced flavour and the dish is garnished with a few green chillies.

Fried pointed gourds are also favourite with both Bongs and many non-Bongs. The fried avatar goes well with steamed rice and lentils.

Pointed gourds are mixed with a little bit of salt and turmeric powder before frying. Sometimes, cumin powder is also used.

Fried stuffed pointed gourds, if done to perfection, could be a real treat to both eyes and taste buds. An interesting point is, even minced meat curry can be used as stuffing.

Indians, especially the non-Bengalis are known for their fetish for pickles. They make pickles with almost all vegetables including pointed gourds.

This vegetable is also used to prepare sweets. Patol meethai is very popular in different parts of India, including Bengal.

What Can Be Made from a Pointed Gourd?

A variety of veg and non-veg dishes is made from pointed gourds.

As mentioned above, pointed gourds are widely used to prepare stew, soup, curry or even pickles and sweets. It is also eaten fried.

Is Pointed Gourd Edible?

Yes, pointed gourd is edible. Peel off the skin and remove the seeds before cooking.

If you are using young pointed gourds, you don’t need to discard the seeds.

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Sometimes, a paste is made with discarded seeds and poppy seeds to be used as stuffing in the pointed gourds to prepare dorma.

Do We Need to Peel the Skin of a Pointed Gourd?

If you are using young pointed gourds, lightly scrape the skin instead of removing it.

You don’t even need to deseed the pointed gourds and remove the pith.

However, if you are using not-so-young stuff, you must peel the skin before using.

How to Make Pointed Gourd Taste Good?

You should choose the best pointed gourds. The young, immature pointed gourds make the perfect choice for cooking.

They have bright green skin and white flesh inside. The seeds are small, round and tender.

They don’t give crunchy bites like the seeds in less flavourful matured pointed gourds.

The fully ripe pointed gourds look orange on the surface and mushy inside.

They are sweet to eat. However, they are not the best type for cooking.

Questions & Answers:

How Long Does Pointed Gourd Take to Cook?

It depends on the dish you are preparing. However, it does not take pointed gourds more than 15-20 minutes to get boiled. If you are frying them, they can be done in 3-4 minutes.

Which Part of Pointed Gourd is Best?

The flesh i.e. the inside of the pointed gourds is best to eat. It is soft unlike the skin which is removed before cooking.

How Do You Know When a Pointed Gourd is Cooked?

Pointed gourds look a little bit mushy after they are perfectly cooked.

Is Pointed Gourd Tasty?

If you use the right kinds of pointed gourds for cooking, it will taste truly delicious.

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