Whenever I talk of dishes made of poppy seeds, nostalgia creeps up as a halo around my head and brings back all the happy childhood memories twirling around the dainty and yet so royal posto/khuskhus seeds. During childhood, due to the constant chaos brought in by my younger brother, often targeting me and eldest sister, mom had to hire a helper who was from Burdhawan (WB). She was lovely person by heart and we were very close to her. She told mom about the goodness of poppy seeds and introduced her to some of the finger licking recipes. I have always been surrounded by beaming and warm Bengali families (Aru r u listening?) right from my childhood and that continues till this date. It is because of this longstanding association with the Bengalis that I love their food and style of cooking. I feel its so very me….simple yet delicious with perfect balance of mild spices and their mindful use of all the veggies found around. It’s a surprise that I m a bong only by taste and not by birth…… my taste buds screams and craves for bong food every now and then. Why????? Because I have grown with them.
The funniest thing is my hubby dear had never tasted the poppy seeds and he was very reluctant to do so. His million dollar question was, “I never knew poppy flowers (he was referring to the garden plant) had such edible seeds, crazy human beings don even spare a flower. Huh!” After he relished the curry and was licking his fingers (Ya KFC should be sued for their tagline), I told him the real origin of the poppy seeds. [Poppy seed is an oilseed obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). The tiny kidney-shaped seeds have been harvested from dried seed pods by various civilizations for thousands of years. The seeds are used, whole or ground, as an ingredient in many foods, and they are pressed to yield poppy seed oil.] My teetotaler husband was shocked and he gave his trillion dollar reply, “No wonder I was enjoying it so much, because I was drugged!”
This particular recipe is base of almost all the dishes made out of poppy seeds. That means the poppy seed paste remains the same but the veggies are replaced by other seasonal veggies. The cauliflower in the recipe can be replaced with brinjal, ridge gourd, edible stems and even non veg, but the taste differs with every vegetable. It is this versatility that makes the seeds royal in every sense.
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
2 potatoes cut into chunks
4 tbs poppy seeds/posto/khuskhus(white)
5-6 green chillies
3 dry red chillies
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp nigella seeds/onion seeds/mangrail
2 tsp of tumerric powder
3 tbs mustard oil
Salt to taste
Soak the poppy seeds for 30min. and later make as smooth paste along with all the green chillies and half cup of water. To make the job easier, I soak the seeds in the grinder jar itself. I don’t have to make a mess of my kitchen. Keep aside.
Take a big bowl and put the cauliflower floret in it. Now sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder and mix well. Keep aside.
Heat oil in the kadai and fry the cauliflower in batches till they get a nice brown colour. Now repeat the process with potatoes. No need to over fry them. A light brown colour will be enough as they will cooked later. Keep aside.
In the same oil (u can add more if needed) add nigella seeds, red chillies and bayleaf.
Mix till a nice aroma comes. Add the poppy seed paste and fry for a minute. Now add salt, turmeric powder, sugar. And mix well. Cook the paste for 2 minutes. Now add the potatoes, mix and cover till the potatoes a cooked.
Insert a knife into the potatoes to check if they are cooked. Do not overcook them as they will break easily. Add 1 cup of water at this moment and the fried cauliflower.
Mix well and simmer for 5 min. This is thick gravy dish. You can make it thin by adding more water as per your taste. Serve with rice or chapatti.