Subtle to taste and mellowing in its effect, this classic preparation is the ultimate comfort food of the siesta-loving Bangali.

Jhinge-alu posto is a classic Bengali dish. Sparing in its use of spices, this preparation relies on the flavours inherent in the vegetables (potatoes and ridged gourd) for its taste. What stands out, however, is the nutty flavour of the roasted poppy paste, which also provides body and texture to the gravy. Overall, the taste of this dish is so understated that it is difficult to imagine how its key ingredient, the poppy seed, was actually a residual by-product of the violent history, fraught with all manner of power imbalances and exploitation, of opium trade.


COOKING TIME 40 minutes
YIELDS 4 servings


Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
15 g Poppy seeds (soaked in water for at least 4 hours)
4 pieces (2 for the paste + 2 for phoron) Green chillies
40 g Onions (cubed)
25 g Vegetable oil
¼ tsp Kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
300 g Potatoes (2 cm cubes)
250 g Jhinge or ridged gourd (2 cm cubes)
10 g Salt
8 g Sugar
125 g Warm water

Equipment

  • Frying pan | kadai
  • Long spatula | khunti

Appliances

  • Stove
  • Grinder

Method

  1. Soak the poppy seeds in hot water for at least 4 hours. You can also soak them overnight in water at room temperature.
  2. Drain the water and place the poppy seeds in a small grinder jar, along with 2 green chillies and cubed onions.
  3. Grind these to a smooth paste, using about 50 g of water. The finer the grind, the better the flavour. So take your time with this step. Once done, set the poppy paste aside.
  4. Heat 25 g vegetable oil in a pan. We don’t use mustard oil in this recipe to preserve the white colour of the dish.
  5. Temper the oil with kaalo jeere and 2 slit green chillies.
  6. Once the spices start crackling, add the cubed potatoes and fry them on medium heat for 4 minutes. The potatoes should not brown, but remain white. Stir them frequently.
  7. Next, add in the jhinge. Fry them for another 4–5 minutes.
  8. Now, add the poppy paste to the pan, along with the salt.
  9. Sauté the vegetables in the poppy paste for around 5–7 minutes. Keep the heat on low and stir often to prevent the paste from sticking to the pan.
  10. Once the poppy paste starts releasing a nutty aroma, add 125 g of hot water along with the sugar.
  11. Let simmer on low heat for another 8–10 minutes, till the potatoes are tender and the gravy has thickened.

Served with