[Guest Blog] – Dolma/Dorma

[N&A]: Our good friend Roshni had prepared a potoler dorma to die for. We requested her to write a blog post on foodwelovetoeat. At that time we didn’t realise how much thought she had given to the dish. Here’s her heady mix of passion for history and food in her own words. Thank you Roshni for sharing the recipe with us.

Dolma/Dorma by Roshni Sen

The Calcutta Cookbook – A Treasury of Recipes from Pavement to Palaces by Minakhie Dasgupta, Bunny Gupta and Jaya Chaliha mentions in the chapter Firinghee Flavours:

The British accepted the Armenians perhaps remembering that it was one of them who negotiated the important trading rights with Emperor Farrukshuyar in 1715. The Armenians have always maintained their identity and even as a very small group today, they celebrate Christmas on January 6 with solemn service at their church. A lunch follows at Burra Club, as the Armenian Club on Park Street is called, with a mixed menu of Armenian and Indian dishes. Serving bowls of cabbage dolma that sit comfortably beside fish kalia and cauliflower bhaji …………  Old Armenia lives on in the dolma. Once upon a time, grape vines grew on bamboo trellises in Armenian gardens for a taste of the real thing – minced meat and rice wrapped in the vine leaf. Today cabbage leaves make a good substitute. (Pages 150-151)

The Armenian Dolma is the Jewish Mahashas – tomatoes, brinjals (aubergines) and capsicums (bell peppers) stuffed with rice, minced meat and herbs of which mint is essential.  (Page 152).

Mahashas can be made with any vegetable that lends itself to being scooped out and stuffed. Some of the favourite vegetables are cucumbers, tomatoes, brinjals, red and green peppers, courgettes and wax gourd (potol). The vegetables should be fresh and firm and not too large. (Page 179)

The Calcutta Cookbook also mentions: The Armenian Dolma and the Jewish Mahashas are forerunners of the Maachh Potoler Dorma. (Page 173). Jewish, Armenians and other Europeans entertained their Bengali business associates and England-returned professionals to dolmas, fowl curries and mahashas………………………. Maachh potoler dorma, an Armenian adaptation, is the Bengali cook’s brainwave. (Page 231 )

My recipe of Potoler Dorma:

Ingredients:

Medium sized potol (wax gourd) 7 to 8

For the filling:

500 gms minced mutton

2 medium sized onion made into a paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

1tsp garam masala powder

1 medium sized tomato

1 medium sized mashed potato

2 tbs oil

For the gravy:

1 onion sliced into small pieces

½ tsp ginger paste

½ tsp garlic paste

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp chilli powder

½ tbs sugar

Salt to taste

A few raisins (kismis)

1 tbs oil

½ tsp garam masala powder

METHOD:

Wash and dry the potols. Scrap off the surface – peel gently with a knife and cut the ends. Apply pinch of salt and turmeric to it. Scoop out the seeds with the end of a spoon taking care not to break the skin. Heat two tbs of oil in a wok and slowly fry the potol to make it light brown. Do not fry it for long. Keep aside.

Make the filling:

Heat the oil in the wok. Add the onion ginger garlic paste with sugar and fry for a few minutes. Add the minced meat and mashed potato. Mix it with the ingredients in the wok. Add the tomato, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Fry till the meat turns golden brown and the oil separates from the masala. Add a cup and a half of water enough to boil it. Add salt and garam masala powder. Allow the mix to boil and the water to dry. Keep aside. Cool it. Now stuff the potol with the cooked meat. Do not stuff it too hard and leave some space at the ends.

Make the gravy:

Heat the oil. Add the onion slices, ginger garlic paste and sugar. Fry till brown. Add turmeric and chilli powder. Continue frying till the oil separates from the masala. Sprinkle a bit of water while frying. Now add enough water so that you can soak all the potol in the wok. Boil the gravy. Add salt. Just when the gravy starts boiling slowly lower the potol. Add the raisins to it and the garam masala powder. Cover it with a lid and simmer on low heat. Boil for a few minutes more for the vegetable to infuse some of the gravy. Turn off the heat. Serve the dorma with rice.

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