Aloo Kumro Potol er Chokka ~ Potoato, Pointed Gourd and Pumpkin Stir-Fry Bengali Style


As a child I hated vegetables. I found them boring and a pain to eat. I don't know whether it was just a pampered little girl's random tantrums or I genuinely disliked the taste of veggies. But this was one stir-fry that I liked. The pumpkin made the dish slightly sweet plus I loved the blobs of bright orange, while the chillies added a certain heat and with paanch phoron you never know. In one bite you might get the soothing taste of fennel (which I love), while in the next methi might make it slightly bitter. So I played a guessing game what flavour the next mouthful will bring and before I knew it my dinner was over, much to my mother's relief!

This is a very simple vegetarian stir-fried dish made during the summers since both potol/parwal and pumpkin are summer veggies in India. This is usually served at breakfast with luchi, Bengali fried bread or at dinner with roti/porota/luchi. This is my mother's recipe and I keep making this in my London kitchen. 

Ingredients (serves two):
1. 2 medium potatoes
2. A thin slice of pumpkin, cut from a big one (will give 12 to 15 cubes of pumpkins)
3. 5 to 6 pointed gourd
4. 10 to 12 pieces of roasted peanuts, if you do not have roasted peanuts, before starting the cooking, heat the pan, reduce the heat, add the peanut pieces and stir till they turn light brown, move from the pan and let them cool
Instead of peanuts you could add 1/4th cup of cooked chola/kala chana (soaked overnight and cooked in the pressure cooker with a little water for 3 to 4 whistles)
5. Half a teaspoon of paanch phoron/ Bengali 5 spices + a bay leaf
6. 1 red chilli
7. A pinch of bhaja moshla (see recipe card below)
8. A pinch of Bengali garam masala
9. 1 tea spoon of atta/flour
10. 1 table spoon of sugar
11. 2 table spoons of sunflower oil
12. 1 teaspoon of ghee
13. 1 green chilli
14. Salt to taste

Method:
1. Peel the potatoes and chop in small cubes, soak in water so that the potato pieces do not oxidise
2. Slice out the thick lower skin of the pumpkin and chop in similar cubes as the potato
3. Cut out the edges of the pointed gourds, slice in half and then chop each half into 2 or 3 pieces depending on how tall each gourd is. Some people peel the gourds at least partially, I don't bother for this dish
4. In a pan, add the sunflower oil, once heated, reduce the temperature to low, add the paanch phoron, the bay leaf and the red chilli, let it sizzle for a couple of minutes
4. Then add the potato cubes, increase the heat slightly and fry for 5 minutes or so till the cubes start turning light brown on the edges
5. Next goes the pumpkin cubes into the pan and after 2 minutes or so the pointed gourd pieces
6. Add the flour and mix well with the veggies. The flour is added to get a slightly sticky thick consistency 
7. Add salt and the sugar, stir everything well, add about one fourth cup of water and cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low
8. Let the veggies cook for 10 minutes or so, stir occasionally
9. Open the pan and check if the veggies have cooked through, if the stir-fry has become very dry add one or two spoonful of water. This is a wet consistency stir-fry
10. Adjust the seasoning, add the bhaja moshla, the garam masala, the green chilli snapped in half and the ghee, give it all a final mix, switch off the heat
11. Crush the roasted peanuts lightly and sprinkle on top of the stir-fry and serve
If adding cooked kala chana, add with the pointed gourd pieces, so that they can soak in the flavours of the masalas
I prefer using peanuts because of the crunch it adds to the dish

Some people use mustard oil in making this dish. I love the spoonful of ghee on top and mustard oil and ghee kind of clash, so I stick to sunflower oil. In my opinion the ghee at the end takes the dish to another level. But if you are a vegan try it with mustard oil.

Sometimes people add ginger to this dish, I never do. This can also be made with kalo jeere/nigella seeds. 

A lot of people add turmeric to this dish, I like this without holud.




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