Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Aloo Posto / Bengali Potato Curry with Poppy Seeds Paste

Wrapping up the lunch with steamed hot rice, kolaier dal, aloo posto and a special omelette of double eggs. Seems delicious!!!! This particular pair of dishes is a classic favorite meal of most of the Bengalis...specially the people of Burdwan. I think they even dream of posto / poppy seeds. Before getting married I hardly knew this much varied use of poppy seeds in Bengali foods. I had only ate Aloo Posto / Potato with Poppy Seeds and some times Ilish Paturi (poppy seed is a main ingredient in this dish of Hilsa) but it seems they have mastered the art of cooking poppy seeds. They make tomato posto (tomato with poppy seeds), potol posto(pointed gourd with poppy seeds),  chingri posto (shrimp with poppy seeds), jhinge posto (ridge gourd with poppy seeds), postor bora (fritters made with poppy seeds paste), bati posto (oily dry curry of poppy seeds), posto bata (poppy seeds paste)....the list can go on infintely!!! This year we went to a picnic in Burdwan and the caterer served Aloo Posto in the lunch along with Kosha Mangho and rice. Think about the combination!! My husband loves to eat Aloo Posto with rice, milk and sugar. I think yuck!!! But to him....its more delicious than any other savory dishes.

how to make Aloo Posto / Bengali Potato Curry with Poppy Seeds Paste recipe

how to make Aloo Posto / Bengali Potato Curry with Poppy Seeds Paste recipe

However, the Bengalis from the erstwhile Epar Bangla (now West Bengal), who are called Ghoti are severly obsessed with poppy seeds. If one can not find a bottle of good quality poppy seeds in one's kitchen she can not be considered as an authentic ghoti. Its a matter of life or death to them. Once someone told me that she could even eat grass with poppy seeds. Now that is called love. Their aloo posto is also a little different from the way we, the Bangal aka the Bengalis from erstwhile Opar Bangla (now Bangladesh) make. Ours is a little on the sweeter note whereas they make aloo posto a little spicy. This particular aloo posto can also be made in two ways..one in which you add turmeric powder and the one in which you do not add that. The later one is called Sada Posto (White poppy seeds).


how to make Aloo Posto / Bengali Potato Curry with Poppy Seeds Paste recipe

Okay....so much for the Bengali's poppy seed history..lets get to today's recipe i.e. Aloo Posto. Small pieces of potato covered in a smooth poppy seed paste. Yumm!!!! It took me a little time to learn to cook poppy seed, because they have a peculiar smell and you have to cook until the smell goes away. Then also, you can make Aloo Posto in a dry way or make a gravy out of it. In case you want a gravy, add enough water, but if you want to make dry Aloo Posto add water little by little. In this way, a gravy will not form. Because if a gravy is formed first, it will never dry fully.

how to make Aloo Posto / Bengali Potato Curry with Poppy Seeds Paste recipe

Aloo Posto
Serves 4

how to make Aloo Posto / Bengali Potato Curry with Poppy Seeds Paste recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium potatoes - peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 4 green chilies
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/4 tsp panch foron (mixture of cumin seeds, mastard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds) / 1/2 tsp kalo jeera or nigella seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt
  • sugar
Method:
  • In a blender grind the poppy seeds and 2 green chilies with 2 tsp mustard oil and a little water.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in the kadai and shallow ddy the cubed potatoes until they become a little golden.
  • Once the potatoes are shallow friedadd the panch foron.
  • As they start spluttering and sizzling add add the poppy seeds paste. Keep 1 cup of water in hand. You will see the paste bubbling very soon. However the poppy seeds are not cooked yet and you have to give a little more time. Add a little water and stir, so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Do this process continuously until the poppy seeds are well cooked. You will know it is done when you will not get any smell of the poppy seeds from the mixture in the kadai.
  • Now add the cubed potatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Mix everything properly and a little more water, so that the potatoes gets cooked. You can also use parboiled potatoes, which will make the cooking process easier.
  • Cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked from the inside.
  • Once they are cooked, simmer on low flame until the gravy reaches your desired consistency, i.e you want a dry dish or a gravy dish.
  • Add sugar as per your choice. If you want a sweet aloo posto add around 2 tsp sugar, or just a pinch if you want your aloo posto to have the kick from the green chilies.
  • Slit the rest of the 2 green chilies and put them in the kadai along with the rest of the mustard oil. Give another quick stir and put off the flame.
  • Serve hot with steamed hot rice and a simple kolaier dal aka urad dal.

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