Ridge gourd “posto”
Writing from the Kolkata land. My mother is busy in the kitchen making some of my favorite foods. Posto is the Bangla term of a vegetable curry made with white poppy seed paste. One can use a variety of vegetables including potatoes, eggplant, or okra but my favorite uses ridge gourd.
Following recipe from my mother’s kitchen serves 6-8 people. One key feature of my mother’s cooking is use of mustard oil. The pungency of the oil does wonders to the flavor of the dish. Start with some fresh and young ridge gourd, about 1.2 kgs or so. Rinse, peel and chop (1/4 inch semicircular rounds) to make about 1 kg of gourd. Peel and chop 2 medium potatoes in 1/4 inch dice.
For the “posto” paste, using a coffee grinder, make a smooth-ish paste from 1/2 cup poppy seeds, 2 Tbsp grated fresh (or thawed) coconut and a few tablespoons of water.
List of other ingredients needed:
- 5 Tbsp mustard oil
- 1 thai chili whole
- 1 tsp nigella seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
- 1-2 tsp salt
Heat 4 Tbsp mustard oil until smoking in a large heavy duty wok. Add the thai chili and the potatoes. Fry the potatoes until golden brown – this helps maintain integrity of potatoes during subsequent cooking. Add turmeric, the diced gourd, and 1 tsp salt. Cook uncovered on medium-high for 15-20 minutes until the water is reduced to 3 Tbsp or so. The gourd will release about 1.5 cups of water – more if the vegetable is fresher. Cooking at low temperature or cooking in a covered wok will result in the gourd turning into an unappetizing mush.
Add poppy paste and fry for 10-15 minutes on low. Add 1/4 cup of water, adjust salt and cook on medium for 5-7 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of mustard oil and serve with basmati rice and daal. This last touch of uncooked mustard oil adds a pleasant pungency to the dish. Enjoy!