My first attempt at cooking with poppy seed paste. This ridge gourd potato curry recipe is courtesy a Bengali friend, who tells me the cuisine of that area uses poppy seeds abundantly. Given how well this curry turned out, I know this spice is going to become a regular in my pantry.
Another first for me was the interesting combination of potatoes and ridge gourd. Potatoes join well with several other veggies – cauliflower, capsicum, peas are the combinations I relish most – and now there’s an addition to the list.
Potatoes – 2 large, scraped and cubed
Ridge Gourd – 1, scraped and cubed
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt – To taste
Poppy seeds – 1 tablespoon
Green chillies – 1 or 2, sliced
Panch Phoron (five spice mix) – 1 teaspoon
Mustard oil – 1 teaspoon
Heat mustard oil in a pan. Add panch phoron. The moment the fenugreek seeds begin to turn brown, add the cubed potatoes and sliced chillies.
Cover and cook till they are half-done.
Add the cubed ridge gourd, turmeric powder and salt. Cover and cook.
Meanwhile, put the poppy seeds in the blender with a few drops of water. Make a paste.
Add the poppy seed paste when the potatoes are nearly done. Cook for another 5 minutes. Let it stand for a few minutes and serve with freshly made chapatis.
- The timing of heating panch phoron is important. Add when the oil is hot, and let it splutter only enough to brown the fenugreek seeds. If underdone, the curry will taste bitter. If overdone, the curry will taste burnt!
- Panch phoron, like poppy seeds, is an important part of Bengali cuisine. If you don’t have it, you might instead use cumin + mustard seeds. But I simply love the saunf flavour this tadka gives to food.
- Some people cannot stand the taste of mustard oil, others find food bland if not cooked in mustard oil. If you haven’t ever used mustard oil, you should at least give it a chance – it is not a taste that can be easily substituted. If you hate it, well just substitute it with peanut or any vegetable oil.
- Ridge gourd gives off a lot of water; you need not add any extra water to this dish.