Its the 15th of August 2009. Independence day. However for Goans, the independence day of our country is looked forward to for yet another steaming reason. It is simply time for the Goan delicacy at this time of the year when most Goan homes especially the catholic homes of Goa are busy preparing the hot favourite of Goans in the monsoons. The "Goan Patolleo". Patolleo or Patoleo are known to command a nostalgic feeling among Goans for centuries and are a very aromatic and simple preparation of a delicacy that Goans faithfully root for, year after year.
So how do Goans prepare patolleos? Firstly, the Goan sweet patolleos are intrinsically connected to the use of turmeric leaves in which they are baked or steamed leaving a distinct aromatic flavour which is in itself a big draw to the taste buds. Other variations of the Patolleos are the "Kholle" or "Dhonne" which are cone shaped patolleos made with jackfruit leaves instead of turmeric leaves and have a similar following when it comes to its distinct taste. In some places of Goa such as Santo Estevam in the North, there is a tradition of preparing patolleos in the shape of tortoises which seems to be a faithful tradition living to this day.
The turmeric leaves are available in plenty inside Goa and the vegetable markets are full of such leaves at this time of the year. Turmeric has always been used in Goa as is all over India for its medicinal properties and the oil in the leaf is considered to be excellent for purifying the blood and as such the Patolleos which are baked in these leaves help the oil to be sucked into the sweet dish thereby adding to the health value of the patolleo. The mild tantalising aroma of the leaves is of course very very nostalgic and delightfully pleasant.
The Goan patolleo is probably an unique preparation of such sweets probably identified with Goa along with a host of other dishes which decorate the Goan cuisine books.To prepare patolleos, the procedure is pretty simple and involves the use of the following ingredients
Turmeric leaves ( Cucuma Longa)
Jaggery ( Palm jaggery - black colour)
The Method of preparing patolleos: Soak the rice in water preferably overnight. Grind the rice with a little water and some salt to form into a paste.
Separately grate Goan coconuts finely and add palm jaggery ( black jagery)to this grated mix with some cardamom powder and mix thoroughly.( some also add chana dal along with the jaggery for added flavour to the stuffing)
Take fresh turmeric leaves and trim the edges with a scissor, wash the leaves and apply the rice paste thinly and evenly to cover the inside of the turmeric leaf. Then stuff the leaf with the jaggery paste in the centre and fold the leaf from one side to another while pressing the edges firmly.
Now place the patolleos in a vessel ( normally a "Kompfro") suitable for steaming the patolleos. Steam the patolleos for around 20 minutes untill the colour of the turmeric leaves begin to change colour from the fresh green to a dull green.
Serve hot without removing the leaves . The aroma, the taste and the flavour have kept Goans asking for more and more over the years.