After coming back from a long European vacation recently, I am craving for a lot for Bengali dishes in Mumbai, my home. I had delicious continental food in Europe and loads of it. Back home, it is homely Bengali comfort food, though. I eat aromatic rice topped with Macher Jhol, Paalong Shaaker Ghonto, Hing Chorchori and of course, Alu Posto!
Who doesn’t love potato? Being a Bengali, I have special affinity towards potato. It makes a curry complete. We Bengalis add potatoes to fish, mutton, chicken, veggies and definitely in Kolkata-style Biryanis.
Alu Posto is a vegetarian dish using simple ingredients. The word “Posto” in Bengali means White Poppy seeds. The secret to a good Alu Posto is to always cook the dish in a good amount of the most pungent mustard oil you can get access to. Poppy seeds have to be ground to a smooth paste and the paste has to be freshly made for best results. The dish has a bit spicy taste because of the green chillies, whereas it gets its pungency from mustard oil. The sweetish flavour comes from potato and poppy seeds.
Alu Posto is a routine dish in my home, but dearly loved by all. There are traditional dishes which taste the best when cooked just like the Thakumas and the Didimas did: using a good amount of oil! I make any Posto in a generous amount of mustard oil. In order to balance out this extra oil, I cook the other dishes in the meal with very less oil. From the fitness point of view, on the day when a potato dish would be made, I make sure that I eat lesser amount of rice.
Although Alu Posto is not a dish that I prefer to feed my guests, I love to cook its other version for my guests, called the Jhinge Posto, cooked in a similar way, but with Ridge Gourd or Jhinge in Bengali. Still, whenever I am craving for a creamy Posto for my own consumption, I always prefer Alu Posto over any other vegetable Posto. This vegetarian Bengali recipe is one of the comfort foods in the long list of my favourite comfort foods. Eating an Alu Posto makes me happy, especially in the Monsoons that just arrived in Mumbai!
Alu Posto (Bengali Curry of Potato with Poppy Seeds)
- Large potatoes cubed: 2
- Salt: around ¾ tsp
- Mustard oil for cooking: ½ cup
- Mustard oil for garnish: 2 tbsp
- Slit green chillies: 3
- Poppy seeds: 3 tbsp ground to a paste with one chilli and ¼ tsp salt
- Water: ½ cup
- Sugar: ½ tsp
- Nigella seeds Kalo Jeere in Bengali: less than ¼ tsp
- Heat oil until it smokes.
- Reduce the heat and add the Nigella seeds.
- Add the potatoes and salt. Cook until potatoes are a bit browned and half-cooked. Add the poppy-seed paste.
- Cook on high heat for 10 min. add sugar and water.
- Reduce the flame and add the chillies. Stir after every 2 min. Let it cook until the posto is almost semi-dry.
- Just before serving, add raw mustard oil as a garnish. Serve with steamed rice.