Friday, March 23, 2012

Potato and Zucchini with poppy seeds

Potatoes cooked with poppy seeds - a traditional dish of West Bengal known as ‘aloo posto’ and served with ‘biuli daal’ (urad dal cooked with ginger and fennel seeds), is a favored combination. We were introduced to these dishes when my sister married into a family from West Bengal. I really liked both the dishes, but my husband who is not from Bengal didn’t care too much for the dal, but he liked the potatoes. And there are not many people I know who do not like potatoes – of course I am not referring to the ‘carb conscious’ people. Since then, this potato dish became part of our repertoire.

I made this dish with potatoes and zucchini since we happen to love zucchini and if you have visited my blog previously you will have noticed many zucchini recipes and this is another one to add to the repertoire. Since zucchini is a soft vegetable, I used boiled potatoes in the dish so that they cook together, but traditionally it is made with raw potatoes which are fried till they are golden brown and then the spices are added.

The poppy seeds used here are the white poppy seeds and not the black ones used in baked goods. They are ground to a paste and cooked with the vegetables to form a beautiful crust on the potatoes and zucchini. White poppy seeds are available in Indian grocery stores as well as online at kalustyans  or at amazon.com.

Potato and zucchini with poppy seed paste
1 large red bliss potato or any other starchy potato, boiled
1 large zucchini - equivalent to 2 cups chopped
3 tablespoons white poppy seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Scant ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon granulated sugar

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into ½ inch cubes. Similarly chop the zucchini to ½ inch pieces. It is easiest to cut the zucchini lengthwise into quarters and then into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Grind the poppy seeds to a fine powder in a spice grinder till it is crumbly. Then remove to a bowl and add a teaspoon of water at a time to form a paste. If you have a small blender which does wet grinding, then you could grind the poppy seeds with a little water.
  3. Heat a large heavy bottomed non-stick skillet with canola oil. Add the potatoes and the bay leaf and sauté till the potatoes are golden brown about 3 minutes. Add the poppy seed paste, turmeric powder, salt and the chopped jalapeno and continue to cook over medium heat for another 3 to 4 minutes till the paste is almost cooked.
  4. Add the zucchini at this point and cook stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes of cooking add the sugar and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, till you see the oil separating from the vegetables.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with rice and a simple yellow dal.
 Serves 3

Note: In case you would like to try the traditional combination, you could try this recipe from another blogger. 

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