Known as pointed gourd in English and as potol in Bangla, this vegetable can be turned into a delicacy or a quick snack in minutes. It can be cooked in different combinations with the use of multiple condiments, each equally delicious. In our country, the typical dish made of this particular vegetable would be potol bhaja, where the pointed gourd is seasoned with turmeric, chilli and cumin and then either covered in rice flour and fried or fried just with the seasoning itself.
Pointed gourd is a vegetable that has many tricks and qualities up its sleeve. The vegetable is known for being a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in carbohydrates, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It contains major nutrients and trace elements (magnesium, potassium, copper, sulfur, and chlorine) which are all needed for human body. All these nutrients of this versatile tropical vegetable help to improve digestion and blood sugar levels, treat constipation and fight ageing. It also helps to reduce weight as it is rich in fibre and low in calories. This vegetable has many healing properties ranging from the ability to prevent and cure colds to curing jaundice of the liver. The pointed gourd, apart from being antiviral is also antibacterial which is why it helps to prevent different types of diseases. Hence this vegetable is a great choice for people who want to reduce consumption of calories and have a healthier lifestyle and eating habits.
Md Iqbal Hossain, a pointed gourd farmer from Shahbazpur, Jessore, shares his experience of growing the vegetable. The presence of the full sun is suitable for the pointed gourd, so choosing a place where direct sunlight is 6-8 hours is required for better yield. Propagation of pointed gourd is usually done by vine cuttings or by root suckers; propagation by seed is reduced due to poor germination and inefficiency. First irrigation should be given immediately after planting. Subsequent irrigation should be carried out at 3-4 days interval. Usually patal vines are trained on vertical trellis by tying with wires. Fertilisers, such as, Triple Super Phosphate (TSP), Potash, Urea, are added as per requirement. Pesticides are applied for 8-10 days and the vegetables are harvested 7-15 days after pesticide application, depending on the weather conditions.
Iqbal along with many farmers of the area provide vegetables for Shwapno under the Shuddho project. According to Iqbal, this initiative allows farmers to get to know about safe agricultural practices such as how much fertiliser or pesticide should be used. Farmers also have an opportunity to learn about the interval period between pesticide application and harvesting, known as the Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI).
Delicious in all its forms, the pointed gourd brings forth immense nutritional benefits and is a rich source of many micronutrients, such as Vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and also calcium. The added benefit is that this nutrition-packed vegetable is available all throughout the year and thus, it can be consumed anytime one desires.
A joint initiative of Shwapno and The Daily Star