In the land that abounds with paddy cultivation and coconut trees, the fruits of these two are often combined to make a host of lip-smacking delicacies. Prized among these is the monsoon speciality, patoleo. What makes these a prized monsoon delicacy is the fact that one of the main components of this favourite tea-time snack, is fresh turmeric leaves, which grow in abundance with the onset of the rains.
There are two versions of the patoleo that are made in Goa. “While the Catholic community predominantly uses the brown palm jaggery to make the filling, the version made by the Hindu community is characterized by a filling made using golden cane jaggery,” says famed foodie and cookbook author Sapna Sardessai. The sweet is also associated with certain feasts and religious rituals celebrated during the monsoon season. These include Sao Joao, Nag Panchami, Shravan, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Ganesh Chaturthi. “It is said that Goddess Parvati, when she was pregnant with Lord Ganesha, would experience cravings for saltless patoleo. Hence, an offering of saltless patoleo is made to the goddess during Chaturthi celebrations,” Sardessai explains.
A slightly time-consuming process, the final product, however, is absolutely worth all the effort put into the making. It starts with the grinding of rice that has been soaked for a few hours. Then one has to make the coconut-jaggery filling, which involves cooking freshly grated coconut with jaggery. “One can also added pieces of roasted cashew nuts and raisins to the filling,” Sardessai says. Some people also add a few pinches of flavourings such as cardamom or nutmeg. Then, unblemished turmeric leaves are washed and patted dry, getting them ready for the making process.
The making of patoleo is usually a family affair, with one person spreading the rice paste on the turmeric leaf, another layering the filling in the centre and one folding the laden leaf precisely. These are then steamed for 15 to 20 minutes before they are ready to be feasted on, preferably hot.
What’s the secret to a good patoli? “A tasty filling,” says chef Moses Fernandes. He adds that the rice, essentially par boiled rice, must be ground to the right consistency. Another vital aspect is the proportion between the rice paste and the filling. The layer of rice paste must be spread as thin and evenly as possible so that the chalky taste of the rice paste does not overpower that of the delicate filling.