During the monsoon season, Spine gourds or Kankrol (many Bengalis call it kakrol or ghee korola) appear in abundance in the Bengal markets. The most popular recipe with this vegetable is obviously shallow fries or bhaja to be accompanied with any kind of Daal. But, in many Bengali households the Kankrol is eaten as starters with stuffings comprising generally of grated coconut, mustard-poppyseed paste (sorshe-posto baata) and deep fried with a coating of Besan batter, known as Kankrol er Dolma.
Since when the stuffed vegetables were started to appear as Prothom paatey in Bengali households, is not known. It can be guessed, however, that stuffed vegetables were started to be prepared to address the sensitive taste palates of the Bengali foodies which shunned any repetitive preparation with seasonal vegetables.
The word ‘Dolma’ originates from a Turkish verb ‘Doldurmak’ which means ‘to stuff or fill’. Apparently after the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khilji who belonged to a Turk tribe, the Bengali cuisine might have been influenced by Turkish cooking style and hence the presence of ‘Dolma’ in the Bengali dishes.
My mother used to cook this particular dish so that we readily agree to eat vegetables. She followed the traditional recipe with Narkel kora, Shorshe-Posto Baata along with scrapings of the inside of the Kankrol but this time, with a suggestive deviation from the traditional route given by my mother-in-law, we tried the preparation with onions, ginger-garlic paste, mashed potato and chopped prawns. Its needless to say that the deviation turned out very much successful. We tried out both pan grilled version as well as deep fried version and would reveal which one tasted better after I share the recipe below.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
Kankrol (Spine Gourds) – 2 medium
Potato – 1 medium, boiled and mashed
Prawn (tiger prawn) – 4 medium, chopped into 1 cm pieces
Onion – 1 small
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste – ½ tsp
Tomato puree – 1 tsp
Green Chillies – 1 to 2 (depending upon your taste preferences)
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Salt – According to taste
Besan (Gram flour) – 2 to 3 tbps
Rice flour – 1 ½ tsp
Sugar – 1 pinch
Mustard oil – As required
- Scrape of the outer spiny skin from the spine gourds.
- Cut the spine gourds lengthwise into halves.
- Scoop out the pulp including the soft seeds, leaving the halves of the spine gourds as pockets.
- Put the halved spine gourd pockets into a pot of boiling of water, add a bit of salt. Take them out after 3-4 minutes and allow them to cool.
- Make sure that the pockets are tender enough.
- Meanwhile, grind the onion, green chillies and the scooped-out pulps into a smooth paste.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil. Lightly toss the prawn pieces and keep aside.
- In that same oil, add in the pulp, chilli and onion paste, stir in for a couple of minutes and add the garlic paste. After a few minutes add the ginger paste and mix in the masala. Add salt.
- When the stuffing will start drying and the raw smell will go away, add in the tossed prawn pieces and mix well.
- Add in the mashed potato. Put a pinch of sugar now and mix the stuffing well. Remove it from the gas oven and allow it to cool.
- Now, take the spine gourd pockets and fill in the stuffing.
- For the pan grilled preparation, heat 1 tbsp oil, put in the filled pockets and grill them in low flame. Remove when the colour of both the sides turn dark brown.
- For the deep-fried preparation, make a smooth batter with besan, rice flour, a bit of water and salt. The batter should be thick and not runny.
- Dip the filled spine gourd pockets into the batter. The batter should cover the pockets with a thick coating.
- Heat as much oil required for deep frying. Fry the pockets in low flame until the coating turns reddish brown.
- Serve hot with steaming rice and a spoon of ghee.
P.S: You can have these delicious croquettes with evening tea too.
Among the pan-grilled and deep-fried version, we liked the deep-fried ones more but if you want to eat healthy, pan-grilled ones are the best any day.
Also read: Bengali prothom paatey recipe – Maacher Matha Diye Chochhori.