Aloo posto is the quintessential Bengali dish – potatoes cooked in poppy seed paste, served with pooris or steamed rice. This delicately flavored curry gets its spice kick from two other trademark Bengali ingredients – mustard oil and panch phoron.
- Potatoes – 4 medium-sized
- Poppy seeds – 2 tablespoons
- Green chilies – 2
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Panch phoron – 1 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 2 teaspoons
Soak the poppy seeds in half a cup of water for an hour. Throwaway the excess water and grind the poppy seeds to paste.
When poppy seeds are done, add the green chilies and grind again.
Boil the potatoes – up to one whistle on high flame in a pressure cooker. Allow to cool to room temperature. If you have some boiled potatoes in the fridge already, perfect – potatoes retain their shape better if they’re cool when they go into this dish.
Cut the potatoes into cubes roughly of 2-cm side.
Heat the mustard oil in a pan to smoking point. Splutter panch phoron, wait for a few seconds (till the methi seeds turn brown) and then add the poppy seed-green chili paste. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring to make sure that the paste does not stick to the pan.
Mix turmeric powder, cook for another minute, then add half a cup of water and salt. Now tip in the potato cubes – mix gently to coat the potatoes with the masala taking care not to mash the potatoes.
Stirring occasionally, cook covered for ten minutes till the dish is dry and the potatoes are nicely coated with the poppy seed masala.
Serve aloo posto hot with pooris or boiled rice and dal.
 This takes about six cycles of open-lid-turn-insides-around in my grinder – poppy seeds don’t take easily to being turned to paste. A mortar and pestle would do a better job, I guess!