Saturday, May 6, 2017

Upgrading Aloo Posto



There was a time when north Indian food formed bulk of my food experiences and barring an occasional dosa, I had very little understanding of how other regions of India eat. I gradually picked up dishes and ideas but this expansion of palette happened in no particular order and was often influenced by people I met and stories I heard. Sometime I would hear the name of a dish and find it fascinating. Aloo posto was one such dish. We don't use poppyseeds in our curries and using a new spice as the base for a potato curry sounded exciting.

Hence, the first time I found myself in a restaurant that had aloo posto on the menu, I eagerly ordered it. I was never more disappointed. What I expected was some form of spicy, crunchy potatoes. What I got instead was a bland, blah dish. I never got to like aloo posto but I continued to believe that poppyseeds and potatoes will make for a good flavour combination.

In my mind, there are two basic flaws with aloo posto. By soaking poppyseeds and making them into a paste, you take away the essential benefit of using them - the crunch they add to a dish. And then the color - except for a rare black nigella seed, the dish is a boring beige all over. Both these flaws are fixed in this new and updated version of aloo posto, using blue poppyseeds both for crunch and color. Here's the recipe for a comforting dinner dish.

Ingredients
3 medium sized potatoes
1 tbsp mustard oil
2 tbsp blue poppy seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp dry mango (amchur) powder
salt, to taste
coriander leaves, to garnish

Wash the potatoes, wipe them dry and cut into medium thick rounds. Heat oil in a nonstick pan. Add asafoetida and curry leaves. After 10-15 seconds, add poppy seeds and nigella seeds. Wait until the seeds start to splutter, then add the potatoes and salt. Add just enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Keep checking every few minutes. By the time the water evaporates, the potatoes should be cooked through. Increase the heat and let the potatoes cook for another 1-2 minutes until they get a bit of a color. It's essential you use a nonstick pan to prevent potatoes sticking and getting difficult to remove.

Move the potatoes to a serving platter. Sprinkle red chilli powder and amchur and garnish with coriander.

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