Monday, June 20, 2016

Aaloo Posto (Potatoes cooked with Poppy Seed Paste)

Traditionally Bengalis are a non-vegetarian community. We do eat a variety of vegetables but those of us from West Bengal swear by one particular vegetarian dish and that is aaloo posto, aaloo  is potatoes and posto is the Bengali word for poppy seed. A Bengali is usually lost without fish but if you tell him or her that there is aaloo posto then you are sure to see the relief on his/her face. 

It is a simple dish and very easy to cook. Different households have different recipes, therefore after seeing my recipe if you compare notes with other Bengalis you may find some difference.

In the recipe below I haven’t given the measurements because this is one dish where you have to measure out the ingredients according to your taste. If you wish you can take more potatoes and less poppy seed paste or vice versa. You need to cook this dish with mustard oil for that unique flavour, you will not get that flavour if you use any other oil.

Here is the video of the dish.

If the embedded video does not open then click on this URL:

  • Potatoes
  • Poppy seed paste
  • Turmeric powder (optional)
  • Chilli powder (optional)
  • Chopped green chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil.


Peel and dice potatoes.

Grind the poppy seed into a paste. You may use the electric mixer-grinder for the purpose. However I prefer to use the grinding stone.

If you wish, grind the green chillies with the poppy seed paste.

Heat the required quantity of mustard oil; do not take too much or too little of the oil. Use your judgment if you use too much it can become too oily and if you use too little then the flavour will be missing.

Add the chopped potatoes and stir fry till slightly golden brown.

Add the poppy seed paste.

Stir a bit and then add the other ingredients, that is a little turmeric powder, chopped chillies and red chilli powder. Remember all this is optional, in some homes they do not add turmeric powder or red chilli powder at all, they only grind the poppy seed with the green chillies. Incidentally I always use Kashmiri red chilli powder.

Add salt to taste and then add water. Cover and cook till done. This is a dry dish, how dry you would like it to be depends on your taste. 

Incidentally you can add other vegetables too, like peeled and chopped ridge gourd or chopped drumstick.  Some people also use prawns.

We Bengalis love to eat it with steamed rice.


  1. Shilpi, this is SO weird a coincidence! Just a few days back, an idea popped into my head: like the 100SareePact and the 100BookPact, why not do a 26TraditionalDishesPact? 26 traditional dishes from around India, each with a name beginning with a letter of the alphabet. Even though I'll begin doing this only sometime in July (I'm travelling before that), I'd already decided that - for the letter A, to start with - I'd do aaloo posto. :-) I'd already found a recipe that sounded good (I've never cooked this before, only eaten it), but I think I'll use your recipe instead - this sounds nicer.

    1. Thank you so much Madhu, now I will be looking forward to your 26TraditionalDishesPact. My mum used to cook it this way. This was the only vegetarian dish she was able to feed me, when I was a child, without me kicking up a fuss.

  2. Hehe. I can imagine you not wanting to eat any vegetables other than this as a child! I have always been fond of Bengali style veggies - I remember lots of baigun bhaja, the occasional chorchori, and more when I was a kid.

    Will tag you when I begin my 26TraditionalDishesPact. I'm looking forward to trying out some new dishes, and sharing some old favourites too1

    1. I look forward to it. The primary purpose of this blog was to have a record of all the traditional dishes cooked by my mother unfortunately she did not live long enough for me to do so. What is very satisfying for me is that the few that I have been able to post here have proved to be quite beneficial for some foodies, for instance when mum cooked mochar ghonto I wasted no time in posting the recipe. You can imagine my happiness when my Goan Roman Catholic neighbour informed me that she had cooked the dish after following the recipe. She and her family loved it. Mum had already passed away by then, so you can imagine how happy I was when she told me this, after all this is a traditional Bengali dish. This is the joy of sharing recipes.

  3. I ate this in a Bengali Restaurant in April, when I was at a stop-over in Bombay. Loved it.
    Thanks for the recipe. This way I can make it myself at home. One gets ground poppyseeds here, which will make it more convenient to make.

    1. If ground poppy seeds are available then it should be convenient,the only thing the taste will differ a bit I guess but anyway as they say anything better than nothing. Hope it turns out fine. If you do make it just let me know how it was, by the way what was the name of the Bengali restaurant?

    2. The Restaurant was Calcutta Calling.

  4. I ended up not using your recipe, Shilpi, but another one (which, I admit, appealed to me because it had an interesting addition - a teaspoonful of raw mustard oil added just before serving and mixed in). Because I don't have a sil-batta, my poppy seed paste was nowhere as close to fine as it should have been, but it tasted all right, so I'm happy about that!

    1. I know some Bengalis add mustard and sometimes also nigella seeds but it does not appeal to me, I therefore avoid eating aloo posto outside my home. But as I always say pasand apni apni khayal apna apna, everything is a matter of personal taste. So it is perfectly okay you did not use this recipe.

  5. I'm going to give this a go, Shilpi. For us expats, how do you make Posto?

    1. You cannot make posto, posto is the Bengali word for poppy seeds. I do not know where you are from,if poppy seeds are available in your part of the world, then all you have to do is buy it and wet grind it and follow the recipe and you have your Aloo Posto.