Patoleo (also called Patoli) or turmeric leaf cakes is a dish mostly prepared in the western coast of India. It is made of grated coconut, rice and jaggery, and cooked by wrapping and steaming in turmeric leaves.
Konkan Maratha community and Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin prepare patolyos on the second Sunday of Shravan, on Nag Panchami and on Hartalika, the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi.
- Salt free patolyos are offered to Goddess Parvati, who the legends say, had a strong craving for these sweets during pregnancy.
- August 15 (Independence in India) happens to coincide with The Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven or the Holy Day of Obligation as it is referred. A major feast is celebrated by Roman Catholics, and Patoleo is the star dish on that day.
- It was originally called Patoleo by the Hindu people, however Goans pronounce it as Patoi and the East Indians call it Pan Mori or East Indian leaf cakes.
- The Mangalorean Catholics say patoley in their accent. It is also prepared on the day of Sao Joao (St. John) feast and Konsachem fest (harvest festival). Patolyos are sent with vojem (trousseau) to the groom’s house, both by the Catholics and Hindus.
A tradition wrapped in leaves – Excerpt from The Times Of India Goa – Date: Aug 16, 2008
- Patolyos are steamed rice sweets, a festive food in Goa similar to Orissa’s haldi pitta, but different in taste. Hindus prepare patolyos on the second Sunday of Shravan, on Nagpanchami and on Hartalika, the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi.
- Salt free patolyos, are offered to Goddess Parvati, who the legends say had a strong craving for these sweets during pregnancy.
- Roman Catholics in Goa prepare patolyos on August 15th –the feast day of Our Lady of Assumption or on the day of Sao Joao feast and Konsachem fest (harvest festival). Patolyos are sent with vojem (trousseau) to the groom’s house, both by the Catholics and Hindus.
- Today very few families have retained the tradition of distributing patolyos to neighbours and friends after the arrival of a new born in the family. Patolyos were also distributed to mark the completion of construction of a house.
- Catholics send patolyos to a house where people are mourning the death of a family member. Goans prepare three types of patolyos – from rice during monsoon and from jackfruit pulp or cashewnuts mixed with rice during summer. Some families prepare patolyos on Nagpanchami from wheat flour. Generally Catholics prepare patolyos from parboiled rice like korgut, pasni, asgo, whereas Hindus use raw or suroi (polished) rice.
- For best patolyos the prerequisite is buying perfect parrot green aromatic haldi-turmeric leaves.
- To prepare patolyos, rice is soaked for at least 4 to 5 hours in coconut water and ground to a fine paste with salt. Turmeric leaves have to be cut in rectangular pieces. On either side of the leaf, leave at least half an inch so that the batter does not separate during steaming.
- The batter should neither be too thin nor thick, because it comes out while steaming. If by chance the batter becomes watery then add rawa to make it slightly thicker. Batter should be spread thinly and evenly on the dorsal side of the leaf to resemble the thinness of the lamina of the leaf.
- For stuffing the batter, Catholics use palm jaggery, whereas Hindus use sugarcane jaggery. Coconut should be double the quantity of jaggery.
- For stuffing, relatively dry coconut needs to be grated and cooked for 15 minutes with jaggery and well flavoured cardamom powder called choon, so that it gets caramelised and results in a homogeneous mixture. For added flavour, cashews or raisins could be mixed with the stuffing. The stuffing is to be placed in the middle of the lamina, then folded, sealed and steamed.
- In the Konkan region of Maharashtra, grated cucumber or red pumpkin or jackfruit pieces are mixed with the coconut jaggery stuffing. Well prepared patolyos have more stuffing inside and a very thin layer of rice outside.
- Well steamed patolyos are judged by the visibility of the stuffing through the rice layer. Steaming of patolyos could be done on a sieve or comfro on high heat for 5 minutes and on slow flame for 15 minutes only. Traditionally bamboo sieves called chalans covered with lid were used for steaming. Patolyos when prepared in a microwave oven do not cook properly.
- Some mix rice flour in steaming hot water, cook for sometime then knead and apply paste on leaves. Instant patolyos could be made by soaking rawa or poha (beaten rice) and applying the paste on the leaves after mashing it.
- While making jackfruit patolyos no water is used while grinding. Generally rasal (juicy) variety of jackfruit is used for making pansachyo patolyos. Rice has to be ground with equal quantity of jackfruit pulp and the stuffing remains the same. Interesting variants of patolyos are the donnes or puddes, which are cones made from jackfruit leaves. These are prepared with plain rice flour and stuffing.
- It was a custom for the neighbours in places like Chorao to invite a girl about to get married and serve her donne for lunch. Catholics still serve donne during an engagement ceremony.
- During the jackfruit season, turmeric leaves are unavailable, so patolyos are prepared on banana leaves, leaves of fatarfodiche zaad (Grewelia spp) or cumbyachi panaa (Careya arborea). In the same manner, donnes are also prepared from jackfruit pulp.
- When pansachyo patolyos are hot, remove the outer leaves and pour ghee on it. It was a custom amongst rich landlords to prepare cajuchyo patolyos by grinding cashewnuts with rice with the rest of the procedure remaining same.