Apr 3, 2011

Aloo Poshto. Potatoes in a Poppy Seed Paste.

I've yet to meet someone that doesn't like potatoes. I usually include a potato dish when having people over. They don't get gushed over but are without fail the first platter that gets emptied. But this one, it gets people talking. Poppy seeds! Opium! No, you will not get a high from it. But hey, it will make you happy in the tummy.

I love Bengali food. Typically it is food from North India that is popular in Copenhagen. Unable to find it in any restaurant, I simply had to recreate it in my kitchen. I have few Bengali friends whose mothers have fed me some really good Bengali food over the years. Mine didn't taste like theirs. I attribute that to the 'touch of hand' factor. Some hands have a mother's magic touch, mine don't. Also, the little poppy seeds are a bitch. As you can see in the picture, my poppy seeds were still more or less whole, they should form a fine paste. I soaked them in water before grinding them with a stone mortar and pestle, but no luck. I then brought out my heavy electronic machinery but still didn't get the desired fine texture. If you are making this - do a better grinding job than I did. And Oh! mustard oil is a must. I cant imagine it tasting the same in any other kind of oil.

I searched through many Bengali food blogs for the recipe, to compare and make sure that I was using an authentic recipe. Unfortunately I cant remember them all, except for this one here 


500 grams baby potatoes, peeled and sliced into halves.
6 heaped tbsp Poppy seeds. Ground to a fine paste
3 Green Chillies. Slit or chopped
2 Dried Red Kashmiri Chillies (optional)
Pinch of turmeric powder

1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp onion seeds/ kalonji
Pinch of Sugar
4 tbsp mustard oil.

  1. Soak poppy seeds in tepid water for 30 minutes and grind to a fine paste. Keep aside.
  2. Heat mustard oil in a deep pan till it smokes. Lower flame/gas to medium.
  3. Fry one green chilli and one red chilli. Take out and keep aside for garnish.
  4. Add cumin and onion seeds till the seeds pop.
  5. Add diced potatoes with a pinch of turmeric powder and fry for 5 to 8 minutes. Saute till they get softer and acquire a light golden brown tinge. Stir intermittently to make sure they don't stick to the sides of the pan.
  6. Add slit or chopped green chillies and red chillies.
  7. Add the poppy seed paste with a cup of water. Stir gently and coat potatoes evenly.
  8. Add salt, pinch of sugar.
  9. Cover the pan till potatoes are done. Once done, lift lid and cook uncovered for a till the water dries up.
Its is usually eaten accompanied with some curry or daal, but you can also eat it with chapatis.

1 comment:

  1. Hi June, this is the dish I would sell my soul for (every one has a fav like that). My MIL makes it the best, and she will be here this year ;-)
    You are cooking it quite correctly, except one point, which makes some difference in the taste.
    "Add the poppy seed paste with a cup of water. Stir gently and coat potatoes evenly."
    Instead, just add the paste, and fry it on low heat, not enough to make it brown, but enough for the paste to dry up a bit, and the color to change ever so slightly - say 5-7 minutes on low heat.
    This is because if you just fry some posto paste and taste it, you will see, that the frying lends a different taste to it than raw or cooked by boiling.
    Then add the water, a pinch of red chilli powder(optional), and cover and cook. Add just enough water so that by the time the water dries up, the potatoes will be done too (I mean not a lot of water should remain at this point).
    Also, if you fry chopped onions along with the potatoes (add the onions a few minutes after the potatoes), the taste is great (aloo piyaj poshto).

    - Anju