Aloo Posto

Aloo Posto

August in Washington is a sly, mysterious month. You never know when the days will pour down with the furious heat of July, or simmer down to September’s mild temperatures. And then there’s the rain. You can go by for weeks without a drop, and then– all of a sudden– you are slammed by a vivid display of lightning, thunder, and a downpour such as you never saw before.

Right now, we’re in a bit of a drought. I wake up every morning, look at my thirsty garden, and pray to the rain gods. Well, not literally, but I do tune in to the weather channel with lots of hope in my heart. Because if there isn’t going to be any rain, it’s me that’s going to have to water the vegetable garden. And because watering the garden is my least favorite chore to do, I don’t do it as often as I should.

Despite the neglect, my vegetable garden has been fairly productive this year. The okra’s been churning out armfuls of slender green fingers, the eggplant’s prospering, thank you, and the zucchini’s been surprisingly temperamental but still active enough to keep me from complaining.

Aloo Posto

My heirloom tomatoes, though, have been acting up. About a month ago I had more gigantic, odd-shaped and delicious tomatoes than I could ask for. They were green, orange, pink, and one even had a sunburst painted on its backside. But a couple of weeks back — I don’t know why– the plants decided to give themselves a break from making tomatoes. Maybe they are protesting the drought or maybe they are rewarding my laziness by being lazy themselves.

Earlier this spring, taking a cue from Mints, I buried a couple of sprouting organic potatoes in some space I had leftover in the vegetable patch. The potatoes rapidly shot out long, green, weak stems fringed with wavy leaves, then burst into small white flowers, and as the plants began to die I could tell from the earth bulging at their roots that they had lived up to their promise and multiplied.

With glee in my heart, I dug up those potatoes– about 25 of them. They were still fairly small, somewhere midway between a baby and your average potato, but they looked big enough to eat.

Potatoes

Back in my kitchen, I chopped them up to make one of my favorite Bengali potato dishes– Aloo Posto, or Potatoes with Poppy Seeds.

Poppy seeds are a common feature in spicy Indian curries and Western sweets, but no one perhaps uses them as abundantly — or artfully — as Bengali cooks do. One wouldn’t really think of the bland poppy and the just-as-bland potato as culinary soulmates, but bind them together with another key item from the Bengali pantry– panch phoron– and they sing deliciously to your tastebuds.

Panch phoron is a blend of five different seeds, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, kalonji (onion or nigella seeds), and fennel. They subtly lace this dish with notes that are pungent, bitter, earthy and sweet.

Aloo Posto is a perfect dish to serve with some chapatis or rotis, or with a spicy curry and rice. Once you try it, trust me, you’ll wonder why you didn’t before.

Aloo Posto

Aloo Posto With New Potatoes From My Yard
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • About 4 large potatoes or 24 small (not baby) potatoes. If you use large potatoes, chop them into ¼-inch cubes. If you are using small potatoes, halve or quarter them.
  • 6 tbsp poppy seeds, covered with ½ cup of water and soaked for about an hour. Blitz this mixture in a blender to get a smooth paste.
  • 2 green chillies, slit down the middle
  • 1 tbsp coconut or mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp panch phoron (I usually mix 1 tsp each of cumin, mustard, fenugreek, fennel and kalonji seeds and store the remainder in an airtight bottle. Since these are whole spices, they won't spoil easily, unlike powdered ones. Panch phoron is great in dals too.)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a wok or kadhai.
  2. Add the panch phoron  and, when the seeds sputter, add the green chillies. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the potatoes and stir-fry them for about two minutes.
  4. Now add the poppy-seed paste, salt to taste, and about ½ cup water. Mix everything together well and when the mixture starts to simmer, place a tight-fitting lid on the wok, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the mixture cook until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally. If the water has evaporated before the potatoes are cooked, add a few teaspoons more at a time so the potatoes and poppy don't burn.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander, if you like, and serve hot.

***

Here’s a picture of Lucy from earlier this week. She went through a really rough few weeks with a number of different problems, but she’s still fighting and engaged as ever and still eager to cram as many treats as she can into her tummy. To all her friends who read this blog, she sends out a huge wag of her tail and lots of kisses.

Lucy the dog

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. says

    Oh woe is me :( I planted ‘hari mirch’, nothing happened, I mean , there is a nearly 1.5 foot plant, no flowers, no ‘ghar ki mirch’.
    I planted Tomato, it is growing, totally unsure if I will EVER grow anything:(
    Can I come and live near u?
    The aloo posto looks great, I have often wondered how it will taste, time I try,

    Love and wooooof to Lucy!!

  2. says

    that aloo posto looks amazing! We planted a few potatoes and got about 12 odd ones from 2 plants in our balcony. atleast someone is using the balcony:))
    sending lucy lots of hugs and good times.

  3. says

    The aloo posto looks so lovely! I’m not usually very fond of potatoes in curries but I love the sound of the poppy seed paste and adore panch phoron. Do you think it work as well with another vegetable like cauliflower? How fantastic that you were able to use your home-grown produce.

    Pass on lots of hugs and kisses to Lucy from me and our new fellow Ollie. Great to hear to she still has an appetite for treats!

    • says

      Mel, you could definitely do this with other veggies– I’d choose a hardier veggie than cauliflower, which tends to get mushy when cooked, like eggplant or sweet potatoes.
      Ollie sounds so cute– love that name!

  4. says

    Hello Vaishali, I just came over from Kay and Simes blog,as I adore Indian food and so far, my attempts at vegan cooking have been woefully bland. I think that’s about to change LOL
    Big love to Lucy from my 2 scruffy English dogs, Ellie and Roobarb xx

  5. Sheela says

    Hey Vaishali,

    Lots of love and hugs to Lucy!!! Great to see the Pic!! Bravo Lucy!!!!
    I have never tasted this Aloo recipe will try soon! Cool that you ahve such a lovely garden, can I get some fresh veggies please ;)
    I try to grow few in my patio….I don’t have a huge garden space.
    I have planted cilantro, Methi, cucumber….Yeah :) my mint plant died no clue why? ( I had bought it from whole food, but don’t see the same herb anymore)
    Do you know from where I can get one?

    Hope all is well with you Vaishali!!

    Thanks for all the wonderful recipes. Always a pleasure to stop by your virtual kitchen :)———Sheels

    • says

      Hi Sheela, you are welcome to my veggies anytime. :)
      Mint is a really easy plant to grow– it grows like a weed, in fact, unless controlled in a pot or an enclosed space. You can find it at any nursery or, if you have a friend or neighbor who will let you pull up a couple of sprigs with the root, you can just plant it in some earth and water it and sit back while it grows.
      If you’re located in the DC area, I’ll be glad to share some with you.

    • Sheela says

      :((( Nope I am not in DC, I live in PA.
      Wish I was closeby to your place, I would have been your eager student to learn some cooking and baking, believe me!!
      Thanks for sharing Vaishali!!

  6. says

    I just found your blog and i love it! So inspiring, I can’t wait to make some many of your posts! I used to live in DC (Takoma Park and then Mount Pleasant and NE) so love to hear about my old home. Thanks so much for sharing!

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