You could call it a “vegetable link” between Kolkata and Mangalore.
Kantola (teasel gourd) grown in West Bengal is much sought after in Mangalore, mainly by Gowda Saraswat Brahmins (GSBs), who speak Konkani. Parwal (pointed gourd) from Kolkata is also a favourite vegetable of GSBs.
Kantola (called so in Hindi) is kadu peere in Tulu, paagila in Konkani, and mada hagalakai in Kannada, M. Mahesh Sharma, a wholesale merchant at Central Market here, told The Hindu. Parwal (in Hindi) is goint in Konkani and kadu tondekai in Kannada. Mr. Sharma is the only merchant at Central Market who gets them from Kolkata.
“I get them here from a trader in Kolkata via Bangalore. It takes 72 hours for the vegetables to reach Mangalore from Kolkata. The trader sends them by train to Bangalore from where I get them here by bus,” Mr. Sharma said.
He said the cost of kantola was Rs. 60 a kg in Mangalore. Gowda Saraswat Brahmins make bajji, sambar, and fried eatables out of it. Kantola would be supplied from Kolkata to Mangalore for eight months from mid-April.
Mr. Sharma said Kantola was poor man's vegetable in West Bengal. It would cost between Rs. 3 and Rs. 12 in Kolkata.
He said some growers cultivated it in Moodbidri and Ganjimath area. “Locally grown kantola costs Rs. 300 a kg. It is thin and long. Kantola from West Bengal is thick and round,” Mr. Sharma added.
He said since Kantola from West Bengal was cheaper than what was grown in Moodbidri and Ganjimath area, it was in great demand here.
Mr. Sharma said he sold a quintal of Kolkata Kantola daily.
There was a huge demand for it during Ganesha Chaturthi. “I sell at least 2,000 kg during the festival,” he said. During other festivals such as Sri Krishna Janmasthami and Nagara Panchami, he sold between 250 and 800 kg, he added. Kantola is being sent to Udupi, Karkala, and Puttur from Mangalore. Bolar-based businessman P. Ravishankar, who hailed from 24 Paraganas district in West Bengal, said Kantola was largely cultivated in Malda and Nadia districts of his State. “It is a common vegetable in West Bengal,” he added.
Mr. Sharma said the cost of Parwal was Rs. 50 a kg in Mangalore and he sold between 30 and 50 kg a day. “I sell a quintal of Parwal on Sundays as demand from workers from West Bengal goes up,” he said. Chutney, sambar, and fried eatables are made out of parwal.
David D'Souza, a Konkani writer and merchant at Central Market, said the State Horticulture Department must explore the avenues of promoting cultivation of these vegetable species on a large-scale.
Shree Padre, editor of Adike Pathrike, said parwal could be cultivated in the region.