Note: If in the near future I am not blogging, it is probably because I have been kidnapped and forced to cook this for one K and one B who are die hard fans of this particular vegetable. In that case dear reader, feel free to lodge a complaint at your local Cook Rescue Center. 

This recipe belongs to the family – a ridiculously simple thing when you are in a hurry and must eat something tangy and slightly hot. Pawtol, or potol, the humble pointed gourd (I had a fight with K about the English translation of the vegetable and needless to say, I won, because she insisted it was snake gourd and I told her it was Pointed Gourd, and in the end I WON! Any way…) is cooked down with a lug of oil, some tomato, a hot green chilli and spices to just add that little something extra, which would make it perfect when served with hot, steaming rice and a bowl of plain daal, cooked with salt and then tempered with a pinch of fennel seeds and a single hot dry red chilli in some mustard oil. 
Start by heating a tablespoon of mustard oil in a heavy-bottomed vessel, and when it is very hot and all the raw smell of it is gone, add a pinch of nigella seeds, a pinch of fennel seeds and a pinch of fenugreek seeds. Of course, you can add half a teaspoon of paanchphoron, the Bengali staple tempering masala used for virtually everything. However, I prefer the former tempering because that way I know exactly what went in there. When the seeds splutter, add a couple of tomatoes, diced, half a teaspoon full of sugar, and stir. 
Let the tomatoes get soft and pulpy. Ideally, I leave the premises of the kitchen for 3-4 minutes after adding the tomatoes and lowering the gas temperature to a simmer. When I return, I see that the miracle of pulpy tomatoes have happened to my pan. At that point, I add a single green chilli, most of the times plucked from the lone chilli tree on my terrace, and 8 pawtol, skinned and cut in half. I prefer using the unripe ones, with soft seeds, which burst inside my mouth when I bite into them. I know many people hate the seeds, but I love them.
According to me, you can either hate pawtol or love pawtol. I am a lover. My father is a hater. 
Anyway, so now mix together 1/4th teaspoon turmeric, a pinch of red chilli powder, 1/4th teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt with 4 tablespoon water. Add this to the cooking vegetable, cover and simmer till the pawtol is done. Ideally, it should take about 10-15 minutes, depending upon the size of the vegetable and the atmospheric pressure. Okay, maybe not the atmospheric pressure. 
Once cooked, turn up the heat and reduce any gravy to nonexistence, frying the sides of the vegetable slightly and let the oil slickly coat the back of your haata. Serve hot, or cold, with rice, rotis, or, my favorite application – with puffed up luchi.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Everyone! 
Written by Poorna Banerjee

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