When we were kids, Mum would make a coarse paste of Posto (white poppy seed/khus khus) and serve a small dollop of it with hot, steaming rice, a little ghee and a pinch of salt. Of course the adults also got a crunchy green chili to go with it. This combination would often start many meals in our home.
Then Mum learnt this variation of the Posto Bhaate from one of her friends who is a Bangal.
Posto when made into a paste has a grainy-creamy texture to it. Its often added to mutton, chicken and fish dishes in Indian homes. The most popular Bengali dish is Alu Posto which is small cubes of potatoes cooked with green chilies and the poppy seed paste.
Poppy Seeds have a really short shelf life and often times you will see small insects in them, even though you did not open the bottle for months. I usually store mine in the fridge in a glass jar.
Half cup poppy seeds/posto, soaked in water for 10 minutes and sieved
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4-5 green chilies, coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons mustard oil
Grind the poppy seeds in the smallest jar of your blender. Traditionally, the lady of the house would use the shil-nora to do this. (My Mum compares the texture of a good posto bata to chandan/sandalwood. Smooth.)
Add very little water while doing so. You will see that the poppy seeds change color from a dusty brown to a whitish color. Stop when you get a smooth but grainy texture to your posto.
Transfer to a steel tiffin box that should fit in the pressure cooker. To the posto, add the chopped green chilies and onion. Drizzle the mustard oil and season with salt. Mix.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, keep the closed tiffin box in a thick sauce pan, keep a weight on the lid of tiffin box, fill the pan up to two-thirds of the tiffin box with water, cover the pan and cook for 15-18 minutes.
A little Posto Bhaate and some hot rice usually starts some memorable meals in our home. But I will admit, sometimes I have been so carried away by its simple taste, I have eaten all my rice with the Posto Bhaate. Trust me, its that good. Second only to the afternoon snooze it will induce.