23 June 2012

Aloo Posto (potatoes with poppy seeds)

Aloo posto or simply put as potatoes cooked with poppy seeds is a classic Bengali dish. I am slightly biased towards this dish, because it was the first ever Bengali dish I tasted in my life. I was served this by a very congenial neighbour Mrs.Ganguly, when I was struggling for gas connections and to top it my truck with my belongings did not arrive. She served it to me with simple steamed rice, masur dal (red lentil). I was amazed how such a simple dish tasted so divine. It’s a very simple dish and takes 15-20 minutes maximum. This is often made in summer as poppy seeds are locally said to have cooling properties and it tends to induce sleep. Not sure about that though, I love this dish immensely. In Bengali cuisine many dishes are cooked in mustard oil, which is very pungent to smell and taste. Once you get used to it, you tend to like it in few dishes. Poppy seeds are an essential ingredient and it is very hard to grind in a mixer. So, they use the traditional Sil-Batta (mortar and pestle).

Aloo (Potatoes) small-1/2 kg (if you can’t find small ones, you can always cube the 5-6 big potatoes)
Posto (Khus khus/poppy seeds)-4 tbsp., soak and grind
Green chilli – 2
Kalonji (Onion seeds) – ½ tsp.
Oil – 2 tsp.
Salt – to taste

Soak the poppy seeds in warm water for 10 minutes and par boil the potatoes. Peel the potatoes. Grind the poppy seeds in a very fine paste (my Mom-in-law says after grinding it must look like cream).In a kadai/wok heat 2 tsp of oil. Add the Kalonji (onion) seeds and parboiled potatoes. Lightly fry the potatoes and add the ground poppy seed paste. Add ½ cup of water and cover. After 5 minutes remove cover, add salt and slit green chillies. Stir and let it cook for a minute more. This is a dry preparation, so serve it with hot steamed rice and your choice of dal.

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