Potoler Dorma with Fish Filling

Potol, stuffed with a delicious filling made of bhetki and prawns, simmered in a rich gravy

  • Cooking time
    2 hours
  • Calories
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The Bengali dorma is said to be a local evolution of the Middle Eastern dolma, which is part of the Ottoman cuisine. Dolma was possibly brought into Bengal by Armenian immigrants. If you are interested in the fascinating history of the Bengali dorma, you can read Tanushree Bhowmik's well-researched post.

Dorma can be made with a variety of vegetables, although the one made with potol or pointed gourd has become popular among Bengalis. The stuffing can vary widely, and traditionally includes dried fruits (and sometimes nuts). This is an aamish (non-vegetarian) version with fish and prawns, but dried fish (shutki), or meat can also be used. Niramish (vegetarian) versions include dal, chhana (cottage cheese), rice, or other vegetables.

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6 servings
  • 400 g potol (large pointed gourd)
  • 4 g salt (to season the potol)
  • 20 g mustard oil (to fry potol)

For the stuffing

  • 100 g bhetki fillet
  • 70 g prawns
  • 40 g mustard oil
  • 100 g onions
  • 100 g garlic
  • 40 g tomato
  • 3 pcs green chillies
  • 10 g raisins
  • 10 g cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 5 g ginger paste
  • 6 g total salt
  • 10 g sugar

For the gravy

  • 30 g mustard oil
  • 2 pcs dried red chillies
  • 2 pcs bay leaves
  • 2 pcs cardamom
  • 1 pc cinnamon
  • 2 pcs cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 100 g onions
  • 175 g potatoes
  • 10 g garlic paste
  • 10 g cumin powder
  • 3 g coriander powder
  • 2 g turmeric powder
  • 2 g red chilli powder
  • 2 g Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 15 g cashew nuts (soaked)
  • 5 g charmagaz (mixed-melon seeds; soaked)
  • 25 g yoghurt
  • 200 ml hot water
  • ½tsp gorom moshla
  • 1 tbsp ghee


Preparing the potol

  1. Scrape off the gritty outer layer of the potol. Cut off the ends, around 2 cm from the top. Keep these ends safe, as will be using them later.
  2. Using the handle of a spoon, scoop out the flesh and seeds. For visual reference, watch our video.
  3. Season the scooped potol with 4 g salt.
  4. Heat mustard oil in a kadai. Fry the potol on high heat, so that they turn brown but do not go soft. Set aside. Fry the caps too, and set aside when they turn golden.
  5. Slice onions. Mince garlic. Roughly chop tomatoes. Finely chop green chillies. Chop raisins.
  6. Slice the bhetki fillet. Coat with 2 g salt. Coat the cleaned and deveined prawns with salt too.
  7. Heat mustard oil in a kadai.
  8. Fry cashew nuts until golden. Set aside.
  9. Take half the portion of the chopped onions and fry them to make birista. Once brown, spread on a plate to cool.
  10. Now place the bhetki fillet in the pan. Fry each side on medium heat for 30 seconds. Remove from the pan when it turns opaque.
  11. Add prawns. Fry them for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  12. Add remaining onions to the kadai. Fry for 4 minutes.
  13. Add red chilli powder and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Add tomatoes.
  14. While onions are frying, separate the prawn heads and finely chop the prawns, and shred the fried bhetki.
  15. Once onions have fried a little, add minced garlic.
  16. Once the raw smell of garlic has dissipated, add cumin powder, coriander powder, and turmeric.
  17. Add ginger paste and chopped raisins. Mix well.
  18. Keep frying until the raw smell of the spices is gone.
  19. Add salt and sugar. Mix well.
  20. Add the chopped prawns and shredded bhetki to the kadai. Mix with the spices.
  21. Chop the fried cashew. Add them to the kadai along with the birista. Mix well. Don't cook for too long after the fish is added.
  22. Add chopped green chillies and give everything a final mix.
  23. Spread the filling on a plate to let it cool.
  24. Once cool, stuff potol shells with a generous amount of filling. Secure the caps with wooden toothpicks.

Making the gravy

  1. Make a coarse onion paste using a grinder.
  2. Soak cashew nuts and charmagaz in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain the water and grind to a smooth paste.
  3. Peel potatoes. Cut lengthwise.
  4. Heat mustard oil in a kadai. Add potatoes. Cover and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir intermittently. Season with salt. Set aside when golden.
  5. Temper the same oil with dried red chillies, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin seeds.
  6. Add onion paste. Fry on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  7. Add garlic paste. Mix well.
  8. In a small bowl, combine cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric, red chilli powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder with warm water to make spice slurry. Add to the kadai.
  9. Fry until oil floats to the top. This will take around 8 minutes.
  10. Add ginger paste. Mix well.
  11. Beat yoghurt until smooth. Add to the kadai. Stir quickly to mix everything.
  12. Add the cashew and charmagaz paste.
  13. Add salt and sugar.
  14. Once the onions and spices are well cooked, and their raw smell has dissipated, add hot water to form the gravy.
  15. Once it comes to a boil, add the stuffed potol and potatoes. Bubble on low heat until potol and potatoes are cooked.
  16. Finish with ghee and gorom moshla.

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