Monday, 8 June 2015

MIXED VEGETABLES IN POPPY SEEDS GRAVY/ ALOO,KUMRO,DHAROSH POSTO - MY UMBILICAL CONNECT




Growing up in a Bengali household you are familiar with a few indigenous ingredients from a very young age. To begin with is Mustard Oil which is a must in any Bengali Kitchen. Mustard oil is not a cooking medium in Bengali cuisine but the star ingredient and often the foundation of most Bengali dishes. There is a saying that if Bengalis could get away with cooking pasta in Shorsher Tel/Mustard  Oil, they would.




Posto or poppy seeds invariably finds its way into many Bengali dishes. Bengali cuisine has made maximum use of poppy seeds I feel. From making fritters or postor bora , to incorporating in vegetarian and non- vegetarian gravies, to desserts and even eating it just by grinding it and thereafter steaming it and finally savouring with piping hot rice, I honestly cannot figure out if possibly there could be any more uses of poppy seeds in food.




Then there is the tiny pungent kalo jeera or nigella seeds which is used either independently or  as part of the traditional mix called "Paanch Phoron" which is a mix of five spices - mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, ani seeds & fenugreek seeds. Used for tempering the five spice mix as it pittar patters in the wok or kadai fills the Bengali kitchen with a crisp distinct aroma which infuses in the dish imparting it a clear flavour which stands out on its own in-spite of other spices being added to the dish.


Well this is the crux of Bengali food, a perfect marriage between the sweet and spicy notes, delicately bringing together ingredients, seasoning and tempering. In most Bengali dishes the theory of less is more is followed. Therefore there is no overcrowding of flavours, each imparting it's uniqueness to the dish.


Another thing which you will surely find in all Bengali households is Jharna Ghee. A bottle of this clarified butter is almost like an umbilical connection of any Bengali to his/her hometown. While putting a spoonful of Jharna Ghee into piping hot rice with a ladle full of thin Red Lentil poured right into the the well of the rice, the aroma that envelopes the house teleports every Bengali to his/her home with memories of Copper bowls filled with Mother's Delicacies, gushing in. Therefore it's mandatory to scout for that elusive bottle in all possible Bangladeshi or Indian Store or else order bagfuls from those who make the journey home and back.


This dish is Potato, Okra and Pumpkin in a delicately flavoured poppy seeds gravy. It's practically a must have soul food kind of dish in Bengali cuisine. Very few ingredients are used. But the end result is a richly textured, subtlety flavoured delicious gravy. Generally only potatoes or pointed gourd / Potol or okra/dharosh is used singularly in the gravy. But in my family down the years from the grand old dames to my Mother this mix of vegetables have been used. So I am documenting the family recipe here just as it is has been cooking in our home kitchen for decades.

MIXED VEGETABLES IN POPPY SEEDS GRAVY/ ALOO,KUMRO,DHAROSH POSTO RECIPE :


AUTHOR : PIYALI
SERVES : 4
CUISINE : INDIAN/BENGALI
TYPE : MAIN COURSE
TIME : 15 MINUTES PREPARATION + 30 MINUTES COOKING TIME + 1 HOUR SOAK TIME OF POPPY SEEDS

INGREDIENTS :  

1) 50 Gms Poppy Seeds
2) 2 Medium Sized (100Gms) Potatoes peeled and cut into 1inch thick slices approx or cubes as desired
3) 250 Gms Okra cut into big pieces as shown below
4) 50 Gms Pumpkin cubed
5) 2 Tsp Nigella seeds/ Kalo Jeera(in Bengali) for tempering
6) 2 Tsp roasted cumin powder
7) 1 Tsp Coriander Powder
8) 1 Tsp of Turmeric Powder
9) 3-4 Green chillies slit
10) 1/2 Tsp Sugar
11) 5 Tbsp Mustard Oil
12) 1 Tbsp Jharna Ghee / Any Clarified Butter 
13)  Salt to taste  

COOK WITH ME IN EASY STEPS : 

STEP 1:
Wash the Okra as you buy it (as a whole) thoroughly without cutting. Once washed dry the Okra in a kitchen towel completely. Cut the okra into large pieces as shown in the picture below. Peel wash and slice or cube the potatoes. Wash, peel and cube the pumpkin. Slit the chillies.


Soak the Poppy Seeds in warm water for at least an hour. Drain the water and  in a grinder grind to a very smooth and fine paste, after adding 1 Chilli abd 1 Tsp salt. Feel the texture of the paste between your fingers. You know that your poppy seeds paste is ready when you cannot feel any grainy texture but only a velvety smooth paste with your fingers, keep aside.


Add salt and Turmeric to the cut potatoes. In a wok/Karahi add 2 Tbsp of Mustard Oil. When hot put in the potatoes in the wok and fry covered for a few minutes till they acquire a golden colour on the outer surface. Take them out of the wok onto a plate. Now add salt to the pumpkin cubes and fry them covered till they become light golden. Take them out of the wok onto a plate. Last goes in the okra. Add salt and fry till they become soft. Do not cover. Once done remove from the wok onto the same plate as the potato and pumpkin.


STEP 2:
In the same wok add the remaining mustard oil. Let the oil reach smoking point, turn the flame to low and add  the nigella seeds and once they sizzle, add the poppy seeds paste and 1/2 Cup (125 ml ) water. Stir. Next add in the Turmeric powder, coriander powder, roasted cumin seeds powder and mix well. On medium flame cook the poppy seeds paste covered. You can add more water if you feel that the is paste drying up. Cook till the raw smell completely disappears. Add in the earlier fried golden potatoes followed by the pumpkin, cover and cook till they are completely cooked. Next add in the okra. Mix well. Cook for a few more minutes uncovered. Now check for seasoning and add salt to taste, sugar and the slit green chillies. Mix and leave for a few more minutes till the gravy thickens. Just before removing from the flame add the clarified butter.


Serve hot with steamed Gobindo Bhog or Jasmine Rice or flat breads /Fulkas/Roti

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MIXED VEGETABLES IN POPPY SEEDS GRAVY/ ALOO,KUMRO,DHAROSH POSTO RECIPE :


INGREDIENTS :  

1) 50 Gms Poppy Seeds
2) 2 Medium Sized (100Gms) Potatoes peeled and cut into 1inch thick slices approx or cubes as desired
3) 250 Gms Okra cut into big pieces as shown below
4) 50 Gms Pumpkin cubed
5) 2 Tsp Nigella seeds/ Kalo Jeera(in Bengali)  for tempering
6) 2 Tsp roasted cumin powder
7) 1 Tsp Coriander Powder
8) 1 Tsp of Turmeric Powder
9) 3-4 Green chillies slit
10) 1/2 Tsp Sugar
11) 5 Tbsp Mustard Oil
12) 1 Tbsp Jharna Ghee / Any Clarified Butter 
13)  Salt to taste  

COOK WITH ME IN EASY STEPS : 

STEP 1:
Wash the Okra as you buy it(as a whole) thoroughly without cutting. Once washed dry the Okra in a kitchen towel completely. Cut the okra into large pieces as shown in the picture below. Peel wash and slice or cube the potatoes. Wash, peel and cube the pumpkin. Slit the chillies.

Soak the Poppy Seeds in warm water for at least an hour. Drain the water and  in a grinder grind to a very smooth and fine paste after adding 1 Chilli and 1 Tsp salt. Feel the texture of the paste between your fingers. You know that your poppy seeds paste is ready when you cannot feel any grainy texture but only a velvety smooth paste with your fingers keep aside.

Add salt and Turmeric to the cut potatoes. In a wok/Karahi add 2 Tbsp of Mustard Oil. When hot put in the potatoes in the wok and fry covered for a few minutes till they acquire a golden colour on the outer surface. Take them out of the wok onto a plate. Now add salt to the pumpkin cubes and fry them covered till they become light golden. Take them out of the wok onto a plate. Last goes in the okra. Add salt and fry till they become soft. Do not cover. Once done remove from the wok onto the same plate as the potatoes and pumpkin.

STEP 2:
In the same wok add the remaining mustard oil. Let the oil reach smoking point, turn the flame to low and add the nigella seeds and once they sizzle add the poppy seeds paste and 1/2 Cup (125 ml ) water. Stir. Next add in the Turmeric powder, coriander powder, roasted cumin seeds powder and mix well. On medium flame cook the poppy seeds paste covered. You can add more water if you feel that the paste is drying up. Cook till the raw smell completely disappears. Add in the earlier fried golden potatoes followed by the pumpkin, cover and cook till they are completely cooked. Next add in the okra. Mix well. Cook for a few more minutes uncovered. Now check for seasoning and add salt to taste, sugar and the slit green chillies. Mix and leave for a few more minutes till the gravy thickens. Just before removing from the flame add the clarified butter.

Serve hot with steamed Gobindo Bhog Rice or Jasmine Rice or flat breads /Fulkas/Roti
  

CHECK LIST :
1) Poppy Seeds, 2) Potatoes, 3) Okra, 4) Pumpkin, 5) Nigella Seeds, 6) Cumin Powder, 7) Coriander Powder, 8) Tumeric Powder, 9) Green Chillies, 10) Sugar, 11) Mustard Oil, 12) Jharna Ghee/Clarified Butter, 13) Salt to taste

NOTES :


  • You can use cumin seeds as tempering or no tempering at all if nigella seeds are not available locally.
  • Unfortunately I cannot suggest any substitute for poppy seeds, because with any other, the Taste will not be same. 
  • Please use mustard oil to get the traditional taste. 
  • After chopping the potatoes keep them in water or else they will turn brown .
  • Never cook okra covered or the slime from the okra will cause trouble. 
  • To get slime free cooking with Okra do not cut the okra first and then wash. Remember, wash the okra as a whole, dry completely inside a kitchen towel, not leaving even a drop of water on it and then cut the okra into the desired size.

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