Bengali Bites: Posto


Morgan Kong

Wingspan’s Ananda Ghoshal delves deeper into the world of Bengali food and shares her thoughts.

Ananda Ghoshal, Staff Reporter

While growing up, I often wonder why I would get so full from eating the food my mom makes. It could have been from the atrocious amounts I took per serving, but I knew that it wasn’t with every food where immediately after, I would take a nap. I asked my mother this and she was delighted to tell me it was because of the posto she made and the fact that our traditional dishes have poppy seeds in them. She would make aloo posto, onion posto, or just lightly spice and toast the poppy seeds and make posto out of that, but it is something you won’t miss when eating Bengali dishes.

After being told that, I began to see it everywhere; in the fish, in the daals I eat, in the various vegetables my mom made, and she would just make posto and put it on the side to mix with the rice. It never occurred to me that we ate such a high amount of them; I always thought I was a tired person by nature, so I’m glad to know that isn’t the case. 

When my mom or dad make posto now, I’m always sure to ask which kind they’re making and watch how they make it. My favourite has come to be aloo posto because it combines my the spicy and savoury potatoes with the light but toasty taste of the poppy seeds. 

You first soak poppy seeds for 2-3 hours and using 4 tablespoons of the soaking liquid, add the poppy seeds to a blender and grind to a paste. Set that aside. In a deep set saucepan, heat oil over a medium flame and add black mustard seeds and green chillies. Let that fry for a few seconds- 5-10 seconds should be fine, add in in peeled potatoes. Mix well and let that fry for 5 minutes. Next, add the turmeric powder and stir well. Put the lid on and continue to fry for further 5 more minutes. Then stir and add the poppy seed paste making sure it coats all the potato pieces. Add the water and season to taste. Bring it to a boil and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking and simmer for 2 minutes; add a little more water if it gets too dry. Now, you’re done!

It does take a few tries to get it to the right consistency, but it is amazing as an appetizer and just something to have after your food; especially if you plan on napping afterwards.