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: https://youtu.be/MH4cNbYDajM
- 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.