I think the Bohri community needs to be lauded for mashing together a delicious snack like Gujarati patra (also called alu vadi and pathrode) with a spicy kheema curry that boasts a distinct Mughlai touch. It’s genius when you think about it- colocasia leaves are smeared with a sour paste, then gingerly rolled and steamed. They are then fried on each side, and placed in a pot of spicy, oily mutton mince to really soak up the flavours. Finally, a dhungaar or charcoal smoke is introduced to the pot to finish, which makes the whole dish go from an “oh, that’s good” to a “bloody hell, that’s brilliant”. The smoking is, of course, an optional step and the dish still tastes great without it.
I won’t lie to you, it’s a bit time consuming to make this, and because they disappear so quickly, you don’t have the heart to tell someone to savour it slow, cause you won’t be making it for another week at least. If you’re unsure about how this will taste, take a trip down to Bhendi Bazaar in Byculla and get a portion of the Patrel Biryani without rice at Firoz Farsan, perhaps the only shop in Mumbai, where you’ll find patveliya.
For The Patveliya
Colocasia leaves 8-10
Chickpea Flour 1 cup
Tamarind 1 small golf sized ball, soaked to yield at least 3 tbsp worth of pulp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Garlic 4 small cloves
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper 1 tsp
Water 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds 1 tsp
Whisk together the chickpea flour, the dry spices, garlic, tamarind and the water. It should resemble a wet, but thick paste.
To prepare the leaves, wash carefully and keep them aside. Turn the leaf so that the stem faces up, and use a knife to slice the tough stem horizontally. Slice as much of the stem as you can, and halve the leaf into two vertically.
Use your hands to generously coat each half of this leaf. When I say generous, I mean you can go overboard with it too. Fold the sides of the leaf inward as much as you can, and starting from the tip of the leaf, start rolling towards the base. When you reach the end, apply a little bit more paste and fasten the roll. Set it aside. Repeat this for all the patveliya parcels.
Create a steamer using a deep heavy-bottomed pan filled with a little boiling water, fitted with a stainless steel strainer and a lid. Now add the patveliya leaf parcels to the strainer and let it steam for twenty minutes at least. When it’s done, remove and refrigerate this for ten to fifteen minutes.
Stir-fry the patveliya parcels in a frying pan with a bit of oil till they have browned and firmed up on all sides. Drain them on tissues and set them aside. These are ready to eat at this stage too, and it’s totally okay if only half the parcels really make it to the gravy.
For The Kheema Gravy
Asafoetida a pinch
Mutton kheema 250g
Onions 2, finely chopped
Ginger 1 tsp, freshly grated
Garlic 5 cloves, freshly grated
Green chilli 1 1/2, finely chopped
Red chilli powder 3 tsp
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Tomato 2 small-sized, chopped
Salt 1 tsp
Spice blend (Grind all of the spices below and set aside.)
Shahi jeera 1 tsp
Cinnamon 1/2 stick
Star anise 1/2
Badi elaichi 1
Green cardamom 2
This will make a little over a teaspoon, but you’ll need to use only half of it. Add the rest to your next Shahi gravy
Oil for frying the spices a few tablespoons
The Paste from the Patveliya 2 tbsp, mixed together with some water
Salt to taste
Coriander to garnish
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat around five tablespoons of oil and add a pinch of asafoetida to it. Immediately add in the chopped onions and sauté this on medium till it is a golden brown. The browner the better, because this leads to a better final product.
To this, add the grated ginger, garlic and the green chillies. Fry this for a few minutes before adding in the chopped tomatoes. Add the turmeric, red chilli and coriander powders and cook this till the tomato has started to break down. Add to this the kheema and fry well till the mutton is nearly done and the oil separates.
Heat a few more tablespoons of oil in a tadka pan and add 1/2 tsp of the spice mix powder and immediately shuck into the mutton.
The diluted paste from the filling must go in next. Give it a good stir. Cook for five more minutes and take it off the heat. Taste for salt and garnish with the chopped coriander.
Drop the parcels of patveliya into the mutton gravy and get ready to put the dhungaar.
For the dhungaar, take a piece of charcoal and heat it over an open flame till very hot and activated. Place the piece of charcoal in a foil and pour over a tablespoon of ghee. Let this sit together in the covered pan for ten to fifteen minutes, then remove the parcel and serve.