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The Goan sweet ‘patoleo’ connects food, faith and tradition

Fresh turmeric leaves are used to make a delectable steamed sweet during this season

'Patoleo; is a traditional sweet steamed in fresh turmeric leaves.
'Patoleo; is a traditional sweet steamed in fresh turmeric leaves. (Screenshot: Get Cooking Now, YouTube)

Patoleo, also known as patoli and patole, is a delectable and traditional sweet from the Konkan belt of India. It is prepared during this season in Goa, Maharashtra and sub-regions of Karnataka for occasions like Ganesh Chaturthi, Independence Day and Nag Panchami. This mouthwatering dessert holds a special place during this time of the year.

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The key seasonal produce in this recipe is fresh and perky turmeric leaves. The making of patoleo is a labor of love that requires a combination of skill, practice and patience. It is prepared using rice flour, coconut, jaggery, ghee, powdered cardamom, salt and turmeric leaves. The process begins with soaking rice overnight and grinding it into a smooth batter with a pinch of salt. Freshly grated coconut and jaggery are stir-cooked in ghee with a pinch of cardamom, creating a sweet and aromatic filling. It is then used as a stuffing.

What sets patoleo apart is the use of turmeric leaves as a wrapper. These leaves lend a distinctive flavor and aroma to the dish. A portion of the rice batter is spread over the leaves, and the coconut-jaggery stuffing is placed on the batter. The leaf is carefully folded to create a neat parcel. These parcels are then steamed until the filling is cooked to perfection and the aroma of the turmeric leaves infuses the dish.

The result is a delightful blend of textures and flavors. The outer layer of turmeric leaves imparts a subtle earthiness, while the sweet and the rice, coconut, and jaggery provides a harmonious contrast. Patoleo is often enjoyed with a drizzle of ghee, and served with chai.'

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Beyond its culinary delights, patoleo is steeped in cultural significance. It is traditionally prepared during Nag Panchami and Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa, Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka, as an offering during worship. In Goa, the Christian community makes it during the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which coincides with Independence Day. Practices like these embody the link between spiritual practices and gastronomy, underlining the deep-rooted connections between food, faith and tradition.

Here's a recipe for patoleo.

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