How the western world perceives poppy seeds and how Bengalis view ‘posto’ is diametrically opposite. Posto to a Bengali is like water is to fish. Posto comes from poppy plants that produce opium. The gum that produces opium is extracted from the poppy pods after which the tiny seeds were once used by cooks in Emperor Akbar’s reign to thicken up gravies in Mughal kitchens. However it was in the 1800s when opium was cultivated in Bengal that the Bengalis discovered the seeds could also be cooked whole with potatoes and onions. Posto has had very little change in the hundreds of years it has been in the history of Bengali cuisine and it is unlikely to ever go out of fashion. This recipe is simple. The potatoes and ridge gourd are cooked like you would cook a Chhochori but adding that poppy seed paste elevates it to another level. It is creamy and spicy at the same time both because of the chilies and that flavor of mustard oil @sarchakra
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOK TIME: 20 mins
- Ridge gourd 1 large
- Potato 1, large cut into chunks
- Mustard oil 2 tbsp
- Poppyseed 3 tbsp
- Turmeric 1 tbsp, divided
- Panch Phoron 2 tsp
- Green chilies 4, plus a couple for garnish
- Red chili powder 2 tsp
- Grind poppyseed in a coffee grinder to a smooth powder. Add 2 green chilies and blend again. Put the mixture in a bowl. Add salt, turmeric, red chili powder and 2 tbsp of water. Mix into a smooth paste. Keep aside.
- Wash and peel ridge gourd. Cut into chunks. Peel and cut potato into chunks. Keep aside.
- Heat mustard oil. Put in Panch phoron. Sauté for a few seconds till aromatic. Add the chopped gourd and potatoes. Season with salt and turmeric. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add 1 ½ cups of water. Cover and cook till done.
- In the last 5 minutes add the poppy seeds paste and the rest of the whole green chilies. Turn the heat up and cook uncovered till the sauce reaches desired consistency. Turn the heat off.
- Garnish with the rest of the green chilies. Serve with rice.
I have a separate coffee grinder for my dry masala powders. I don’t ever make the mistake of grinding coffee in it! It would be one spicy coffee with lots of flavors 🙂
For a more pungent mustard fragrance drizzle a little bit of mustard oil on top before serving.
This is a spicy dish. To tone it down use less green chilies.