The other day at the vegetable vendor, there was a very interesting discussion. My husband wanted bhindi, my mom in law stated that she wanted some ‘interesting vegetables’. On being asked what ‘interesting’ entailed, well, it was a list of ‘no turi, no lauki, no parval‘…and so on. (turi is rigde gourd, lauki is bottle gourd and parval is point gourd). And my husband wholeheartedly agreed.
Now, I dont really see the harm in any of them. Does that make me a gourdy person? Ha. Ha. OK, bad joke.
Well, I like parval (the big, fat ones) which can be cooked to a “makha” ie a dry curry with potatoes or filled with delicious “pur” and deep fried, or lauki when cooked with “bodi” or prawns or coconut or anything, or turi with “posto” i.e. poppy seeds. Yum!
So this time, I defied both and I bought all three of them – turi (jhinge in bengali), lauki (lau in bengali) and parval ( potol in bengali) and kept them aside for the day I would cook them, and change their minds. And make the amazingly delicious jhinge posto or lau bodi or potoler dolma. I had asked my mom to get some bodi in her last trip, and she had happily obliged. I am itching to use those dried daal bits (bodi or as in Hindi, vadi).
Sunday presented a unique opportunity. Our cook was on leave for a couple of days, and she arrived late on Sunday. We had readied ourselves for a rice & daal meal. Perfect setting for the turi! Jhinge Posto, here I come!
Now, we Bengalis love our white poppy seeds (khus khus in hindi and posto in Bengali). Poppy is had as a paste with rice, or as an addendum to vegetables, or as coating to deep fries, or basically anywhere. Give us out Posto and Shorshe, and we are happy. (Shorshe is sarson, or mustard. And I dont mean just the oil)
I asked her to peel and cut the turi into small cubes, along with one potato (I am lazy that way). And of course, the most difficult task, grind the white poppy seeds. At home in Calcutta, our cook uses the sheel bata to make a thick paste out of it, but here we dint have one.
The next best option to grind was the mortar and pestle. The poor girl, me and my husband tried away for a while, but to no success. The perfectly round seeds would slip away towards the sides, and remain adamantly whole! Our mixer is too big for these small slippery seeds.
I was left with the choice of either using the half mashed concoction, or make another type of turi and not the awesomness of jhinge alu posto. Ah! The name itself brings back the flavours and the smell. I salivate.
And so I resolved – I WILL introduce my family to jhinge posto. They could not possibly go through life without having tasted the supreme delight of this light and flavourful dish.
I then got a brainwave. I dry-ground posto (gasp! convention!) and i made jhinge posto.
Needless to say, everyone loved it. After second serves and an empty bowl, I was a proud cook that day! Turi will be welcomed home. Mission Accomplished.
Making Posto Bata (Using 10gms poppy seeds)
Conventional: Soak the poppy seeds in water for 10 mins or so. Add a green chilli and grind till a thick paste is formed.
My way: Use a dry grinder to grind the poppy seeds till its a fine powder. Mash in a green chili into it and let soak in water.
The water is a key element. It expands the seeds and gives the paste its light, fluffy feel.
Ridge gourd – 2. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
In a kadai, heat mustard oil till it steams. Add in the potatoes and stir fry till they are slightly seared.
Add in the cut gourd pieces, and mix around till all the vegetables are coated with a bit of oil. Add in turmeric and salt.
Cover, and let cook. the gourd releases its own water, and so the vegetable should not stick to the pan. After around 5 minutes, the gourd and potato should be completely cooked. Open the lid and let some of the water evaporate.
To this, add the posto. We traditionally dont let even a drop of the posto go waste, as it expands a lot, and its preferable to have as much of it as possible coating the veggies. So add the paste and then swish the container with water, and add that in.
Add a whole green chili to this. The chili is just for the flavour, and not the spice. So do not slit it, or cut it. Drizzle a little virgin mustard oil. This gives a very interesting tang to the dish.
Now fold in the posto to the cooked jhinge-alu, and let it cook till the vegetable is almost dry. This should not take too long, but it requires continuous stirring to avoid it from sticking to the pan.
Your jhinge-alu-posto is ready! Welcome to the world of Posto. Try it out with some freshly made rice, dry.
Yes, thank you for the compliments.
And now that I have cracked the code for grinding posto, I will try the same with shorshe.
Grind posto (poppy seeds) with 1 green chili
Oil+Potato ->sear + jhinge (ridge gourd) + salt+ turmeric -> cover & Cook
-> + Posto + 1 green chili + Virgin mustard oil -> stir till dry