Alu Posto or Potato with Poppy Seed Paste
Alu Posto is a very simple recipe from Bengal using potatoes with poppy seed paste and can be served with rice. Quintessential Alu Posto can be considered as a signature item is a Bengali lunch spread.
Introduction: Arguably the most popular posto recipe is Aaloo Posto. There are hundreds of variations of making it by tweaking the masalas here and there, almost every family have their own variation of Aaloo posto.
Here I will share the secret of my great grand mom who I consider was like an Old Master of Bengali cuisine. This dish opens with a subtle sweet nutty note, a crispy woody and smokiness at the middle and finally leaves a unique earthy feeling at the base. Posto or poppy seeds induce good sleep and also keeps the body cool in summer time. Bengali babu’s used to get a mid day nap in the summer afternoon by having lunch with Posto and rice.
Brief history: Posto or poppy seeds used in Bengali cuisine in many forms, mostly as a thick paste or posto bata. Posto bata can be served raw drizzled with mustard oil, or can be cooked with a variety of vegetable, mostly the summer vegetables like rigged gourd (Jhinge), Parwal (Potol), Aaloo etc. The non-veg variations are done by mixing boiled eggs or pre-cooked chicken pieces. Sometimes posto bata is cooked with ginger or garlic or even onion just to add some new flavour to it.
Aaloo Posto Recipe:
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 8 minutes
4 medium sized Potato, cut into ½ inch cubes. Cutting is important, any other cut will ruin the taste, also try to make the pieces of similar size for even cooking.
Mustard Oli: 2 tbps
Panch Phoron (mix of 5 whole spices)
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Salt to taste
For the paste: Posto 4 Tbsp, Black/Yellow Mustard seed ¼ tsp, 2 pods of garlic, 3 green chillies, pinch of salt.
>Add warm water to the Posto and Mustard seed, let it stand for 10 minutes
>add garlic and chillies add pinch of salt.
>Put it to a blender and make a fine paste. >
To make it right, add little water from time to time and blend it. The posto will start releasing a milk like white fluid. Make the paste really fine. My Granny used to hand grind it in Stone Slabs.
>Now heat oil in Wok or Kadai, when the mustard oil is really hot and turns it color from dark brown to peach and starts smoking,
>put the panch foron, it will start splatter,
>then put the potato cubes and shallow fry for two to three minutes by folding it. Make sure the potato’s don’t get over cooked and look brown.
>add the paste, add the Haldi and 3 green chillies,
>add one cup water, then cover and cook for five minutes in slow fire.
>Removed the cover now add salt to taste and start cooking for 3 minutes on high flame contentiously folding it with the spatula. The oil will start separating, allow little bit of browning at the bottom of the wok.
> Quickly fold it to prevent burning.
>Make it dry by evaporating all the water, just leave it little moist in oil
>Serve it with steamed rice.
Tip: Mustard, garlic and green chilli added to the paste make the taste little stronger than the very subtle taste of plain poppy seed.
Caution: Don’t boil the potato beforehand instead of frying as mentioned, this recipe with boiled potato will give you a very different taste.