Aloo Posto, the most popular Bengali dish.
When people talk about Bengali food, they mostly talk about fish, or rosogolla, or misti doi. It’s astounding to me how little people know about the everyday Bengali vegetarian fare, which constitutes such a massive part of the Bengali cuisine. Take for example Aloo Posto. I have met very few non-Bengalis who had heard about it. But if you think about it, Aloo Posto should be the single most representative Bengali dish ever. Made with potatoes simmered in a thick poppy-seed-paste, the dish carries some of the therapeutic properties of the parent opium plant. A nutrient-rich food, poppy seeds soothe anxiety, ease pain, relax muscles, and help with sleep. Aloo Posto is so easy to make and so soporific that it is both the harbinger and purveyor of Bengali lyadh.
Also, this recipe definitely fits all the parameters of a reducetarian diet.
Ingredients for Aloo Posto
Potatoes: Aloo means potatoes, so you definitely need potatoes.
Onions: I make aloo posto two ways: with onions and without onions. If making aloo posto with onions, then you will need to fry the onions until golden brown, then add smaller pieces of potatoes.
Poppy seeds: I have always used the white poppy seeds available in Indian groceries. I have never tried it with the darker colored ones.
Green chilies: I like to grind a few green chilies with the poppy seeds for extra heat. But if you don’t like spicy food, use one green chili to temper the oil.
Mustard oil: This is rather important. If you want to make authentic aloo posto, you need mustard oil.
Turmeric: A lot of recipes will call for turmeric, but DO NOT use it. Turmeric has a distinct smell while poppy seed has a subtle smell. You don’t want turmeric to overpower the dish. You want to retain the raw poppy seed smell as much as possible. For the same reason, absolutely avoid using tomatoes, onion seeds, garlic, and ginger.
How to make Aloo Posto?
Soak poppy seeds in water for 2-5 minutes. No need for soaking poppy seeds overnight, as some recipes might require. Poppy seeds are actually pretty soft and they grind quite easily, as long as you have a good masala or coffee grinder.
Drain water and grind poppy seeds with one green chili. You may need to give the paste a few shakes and stir to get a nice smooth paste. If it isn’t too smooth, don’t worry. Grainy poppy seeds taste equally good.
Wash, peel and cut potatoes into cubes (approximately the size of a Lego block).
Heat mustard oil in a pan and I cannot stress enough how important it is that you use mustard oil for this recipe. Add the remaining green chilies.
Add potatoes and stit to coat them in oil properly. Let them cook for 2 minutes and then add sufficient water to just immerse the potatoes. Once it comes to a boil, cover the pan with a lid and cook until the potatoes are cooked all the way.
Add the poppy seed paste, stir, adjust salt, and turn off the heat. You don’t want to cook after adding the poppy seeds for this particular onion free recipe.
Finish with some mustard oil and serve with steamed white rice and dal. Bread doesn’t go with aloo posto.
Scroll down to find the detailed recipe.
- 40 grams poppy seeds
- 4 green chilies
- 2 tbsp mustard oil extra for drzzling on top
- 500 grams potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 cup water
- salt to taste
- Grind poppy seeds with one green chili and a few teaspoons of water. You want a smoth paste.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan.
- Add remaining green chilies and potatoes. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the water and salt. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add poppy-seed-paste, stir and immediately turn off heat. You want to preserve the raw poppy flavor and aroma.
- Drizzle some mustard oil on top and serve hot with white rice and dal.
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