Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Parmal di Subzi (Sauteed Pointed Gourds) – Quick Recipe


These pointy vegetables with yellowish-green color resemble small cucumbers with yellow stripes, but are really a member of the family of gourds and are abundant in Eastern India in the summer time. The flesh is creamy white with small firm seeds, and is quite bland, allowing it to pick up the flavor from spices in dishes.

They are called parmal in the Punjab and North India, but parwal in Hindi and Gujarati and potol in Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orrisa where they are hugely popular and also eaten in South India. In the US, they usually found in many Indian grocery stores but not in local supermarkets.

Recipe 1

Parmal are high in calories and good sources of carbohydrates, vitamins A and C and other minerals like magnesium, sodium, potassium and copper. In Aryuveda, parmal are thought to enhance the proper digestion of food. In Nepal, the sick are usually given parmal soup. Parmal can also be pickled with a variety of herbs and spices. An extract of the seeds is used to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

They can be eaten in stews, curries, soups, fried or with fish, roe and meat stuffings, and even sweet. Choose young immature gourds, as the mature ones are usually not as flavorful and the ripe ones turn orange and mushy and become too sweet to consume.

This is also a quick recipe to make for those who don’t have enough time to cook as it is not necessary to make elaborate preparations. This recipe doesn’t require other ingredients, but if you want, you can add sliced onions and garlic. It is best served as a side dish with rice.

500 gm parmal (pointed gourds)
2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive  oil
1 tsp rai (mustard seed) or jeera (cumin) (per preference)
1 tsp haldi (turmeric)
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), garam masala


1. Wash the parmal thoroughly and then wipe them dry.

2. Cut the parmal lengthwise in slices and keep aside.

3. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and then throw in the mustard seeds or cumin and turmeric and roast slightly.

4. Add the parmal and brown them, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom.

5. Add the salt, pepper; cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. If still not tender, then turn the heat down, leave covered and cook for 5 more minutes.

6. Turn the heat off and let it sit uncovered.

7. Before serving, garnish the dish with garam masala.



Most curries and daals need some form of tadka to bring out the spiciness, the quantity and types of which vary with the method of preparing the dish. For Punjabi food, I have found that the tadka doesn’t need to be very complicated and can be mostly done while the daal is being cooked. Just drop in the salt, pepper, turmeric, chopped onions, garlic and ginger into the daal while it is simmering. After it is cooked, sprinkle with garam masala and let it sit for a while. When serving in a bowl, drip in half a teaspoon of olive oil into the daal and stir. For best results, the daal should be served hot.

mamas recipe inside3

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.