Another quite essential ingredient in a Bengali cook’s repertoire, apart from the humble ‘Shorshe’ or mustard, is the Posto. Posto, or Khus Khus, is the seed of the poppy plant, and is used in a number of Indian cuisines, in various forms. The most common form of posto eaten by Bengalis is the ‘Aloo Posto’, or Potatoes cooked in poppy seed paste, that is eaten with rice, often as an accompaniment with ‘Biulir or Kolai er Dal’, which are skinned black gram lentils.
Posto is very versatile, and we Bongs have mastered the art of using the poppy-seed paste in so many vegetarian (and even non vegetarian) dishes. DaaNta Posto is one such variation, where young stems of the Drumstick plant are cooked in the paste. Drumsticks, called DaaNta (daata) or Sojne DaaNta in Bengali, are a delicacy and are widely used in many Bengali dishes. This dish is a lovely adaption of the classic Aloo Posto, though I’ve skipped the potatoes and added onions in stead.
The preparation is dry, and is best enjoyed with hot rice, and a dollop of ghee, or if you’re feeling judicious, have it with some rice and dal in stead 🙂 You may add potatoes, shrimps, and skip the onions if you wish.
Also, the dish is best made with young drumsticks, as the more tender, the more you can enjoy them.
DaaNta Posto (Drumsticks in Poppy-Seed Paste)
- Sojne DaaNta/Drumsticks – 300 gms, cut into 2 inch-sized pieces
- Onions – 2 medium, sliced finely
- Posto/Khus Khus/Poppy-seed paste – 100 gms (about 5 tbsp)
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (You may replace these with paanch phoran)
- Salt – to taste
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Dried red chilies or green chilies – 2 to 3
- Mustard oil – 4 tbsp
- Soak the poppy seeds in enough water to submerge them, for about 2 to 4 hours, or at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a deep-bottomed vessel and add the oil.
- Temper with cumin/paanch phoran, dried red chilies, and add the sliced onions, turmeric and pinch of salt.
- Fry until golden and add the drumsticks. Season with turmeric and chili powder.
- Give the drumsticks a good, gentle fry as well, stirring in between, for about 3 to 4 minutes and then cover for another 2 to 3 minutes to let them soften slightly.
- Meanwhile, strain the soaked poppy seeds, and make a coarse paste using a mixer grinder, or a sheel-nora/silbatta. Ensure the paste isn’t too soft and watery, but slightly coarse, when rubbed between fingertips.
- Now take off cover, and pour the poppy-seed paste slowly. Season with salt. (be careful as the paste will reduce in quantity, so you can also add the salt at a later stage).
- Now, lower the heat, and let the posto cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
- When you see the water in the posto has dried up, turn up the heat, stir gently so as to not break the drumsticks.
- Turn off the gas when the drumsticks are cooked through and the posto gravy has dried and released oil.
- Serve hot with steamed rice 🙂