My Alu Poshto recipe is based on a popular Bengali curry made with potatoes and poppy seeds. Bengal is a state on the east coast of India. Bengalis or Bongs as they are called, are predominantly fish eaters. But they do love their potatoes.
Alu Poshto is actually a kind of Dum Alu. As I have said before, ‘Dum’ just means steam. So Dum Alu is essentially potatoes cooked in a sauce under steam or a lid. ‘Dum’ does not mean pressure cooked. As the potatoes slowly cook in the spicy, creamy sauce, they absorb all the flavors and develop a dense texture that can be obtained only by cooking under steam.
Ideally, any kind of Dum Alu should be made with baby potatoes. You can use Baby Yukon Gold or Baby Reds for this curry if you have them on hand, or just make big chunks of the potato. We want the chunks to hold together during cooking and become meaty.
The poppy seeds used here are white poppy seeds also called ‘khus khus’ in Hindi and other Indian languages. These are Not the black seeds you would see on a lemon poppy seed muffin, for example. The key ingredient in this dish is ‘poshto’ or poppy seeds, so these are a must while making this recipe.
The details are as follows –
6-8 medium potatoes
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp oil
For the Masala Paste
3 Kashmiri Red Chilis
2 Tbsp grated or chopped ginger
2 Tbsp grated or chopped garlic
2 Tbsp poppy seeds or khus khus
1 tsp black peppercorns
3-4 green cardamom pods
1-2 inch stick cinnamon
¼ tsp kalonji
¼ tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion
- Scrub and peel the potatoes. Quarter them in fairly big sized chunks.
- For the masala – Soak the poppy seeds and chili in warm water for an hour or two. Lightly roast the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, kalonji, fennel seeds, pepper corns, cumin and coriander seeds in a non stick pan and cool.
- Blend together all the roasted spices, chili, poppy seeds, ginger, garlic and onions to form a paste.
- Puree tomatoes and set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the masala paste for 10-15 minutes until it is completely cooked and oil separates. You might need to add a little water periodically to prevent the masala from sticking to the pan.
- Add the tomato puree and the potatoes. Stir to combine and add some water if needed. Cover with lid and cook on a medium flame until potatoes are cooked. This should take about 20-30 minutes depending on cooking conditions.
- I am making the masala from scratch here. If you do not have all the different spices, you can just use 2 Tbsp paprika and 1 tsp cayenne pepper instead of the red chilis. And use 1 Tbsp garam masala powder instead of roasting and grinding the whole spices. This is the easier version but I recommend it if you are new to Indian cooking or new to cooking, period.
- Serve the Alu Poshto – spicy potatoes cooked in poppy seed gravy – hot with roti, naan or rice. Enjoy!
Try this easy potato curry and let me know how it turned out for you.