Posto (dried poppy seeds) is such an essential ingredient in Bengali kitchens. These are dried poppy seeds. Must have been introduced to us by Afghan traders because weak as my knowledge is on flora, I don’t thing the poppy is native to Bengal.
It is used in a variety of dishes but the most common is probably aloo posto. I remember when I was staying in the Middle East, the entire Bengali (Indian and Bangladeshi) community got their veggies, fish and spice shopping from a Bangladeshi store. And the store stocked everything including betel nut and leaves. One thing that they didn’t stock was posto. It was illegal to import Posto since poppy is also the source for Opium! Till some one from either the Indian or Bangladeshi embassy intervened and requested the relevant authorities in the emirate to allow posto imports. Posto as used in Bengali dishes is not narcotic! And though the source is the same, it is far removed from Opium!
Much later on, in France, I tried Aloo posto on my own. The dish took about 15 minutes and I followed the simple instructions and to my amazement, found it tasting just like Ma made!
What you need:
3-4 medium potatoes
1 tsp Black Cumin seeds
1 tbsp posto seeds
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1. Peel and dice the potatoes into little cubes. Wash well and drain.
2. Grind the posto into a paste using a little bit of water. (I didn’t have a wet grinder and so I used a rolling pin and ground them on the kitchen counter). Needn’t be a fine paste.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add the black cumin seeds.
4. You can add in 2 green chilies (sliced). This is optional. But the green chilies do add a nice flavour. You can take the chilies out after a while.
5. When the cumin seeds crackle, add the potatoes. Stir well.
6. Sprinkle a little water (about ¼ cup). The idea is to cook the potatoes faster and not to have a gravy.
7. Lower flame and cover.
8. When the potatoes are nearly cooked and soft, add the posto paste, stir.
9. Cook for a couple of minutes further and remove from flame.
This dish is usually eaten with rice and dal (any sort). Dal, for those who don’t know is lentil soup and we have varieties of dal.
A house in Gola
6 months ago