Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jhinge Aloo Posto (Ridge gourd and Potato in Poppy seed Paste) - Guest Post for Sharanya

When Sharanya asked me to do a guest post for her blog I was too excited reason being this was going to be my first guest post for any one. Writing for my own blog is one thing and writing for someone else is a totally different ball game together, there is a lot of responsibility attached to it. As the initial excitement subdued, I started to become jittery. Now the biggest job was to zero in on a recipe that would be good enough for a guest post. I had a lot of dishes in mind and was finding it difficult to streamline my thoughts.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of food is Bengali cuisine...of course it’s the cuisine which is most dear to my heart because I grew up with it. The Bengali's love for food is legendary. The variety of fish and vegetables are so diverse that anything can be combined with everything and a new dish can be created. Bengalis make ambrosial dishes out of the oftentimes rejected peels, stalks and leaves of vegetables.  Ghonto, chorchori, chechki, labra, paturi, bhapa, jhal, jhol, kosha, bhate, chhyanchra, dalna, dolma,kalia, pora, shukto are some of the predominant cooking styles from this cuisine. Every dish gets its unique signature flavor and taste depending on the cooking method.

The eating method is as elaborate as the cooking method. Quoting Wiki "The Bengalis are very particular about the way and the order in which the food should be served. Each dish is to be eaten separately with a little rice so that the individual flavors can be enjoyed. The first item served may be a little ghee which is poured over a small portion of rice and eaten with a pinch of salt. Then come the bitter preparation, shukto, followed by lentils or dals, together with roasted or fried vegetables (bhaja or bharta). Next come the vegetable dishes, the lightly spiced vegetables, chenchki, chokka, followed by the most heavily spiced dalna, ghonto and those cooked with fish. Finally the chicken or mutton, if this being served at all. Chaatni comes to clear the palate together with crisp savory wafers, papor. Dessert is usually sweet yogurt (mishti doi). The meal is finally concluded with the handing out of betel leaf (paan), which is considered to be an aid to digestion and an astringent."

By now you would have a fair enough idea about how religious the Bengalis are about their food. Today I would like to write about a very humble and comforting recipe from Bengal.

I have been food blogging for over a year now. I had a G+ page which I never tried to explore. I used to remain within the frontiers of my blog until recently when one fine day I decided to understand the enigmatic G+. As I started browsing I became aware of "communities" and started adding them. The more time I started spending I became aware of the huge treasure trove of recipes being posted all around the world.  One fine day I was invited by Sharanya to attend her ongoing event "Let's celebrate Halloween" that's how I gradually started interacting with her. A very sweet person whose cakes and pastries are equally sugary, delectable, mouth-watering, ravishing and I could go on and on. As much as I try to keep myself away from all this calorie filled yummies I still love to savor the delicacies with my eyes on Sharanya's blog. Her blog is very warm and almost makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. It's a very proud moment for me to be doing a guest post for a cordon bleu like her.

There are many restaurants claiming to serve "authentic Bengali" cuisine, but be sure the real essence of Bengali food can be only savored at a Bengalis home. Maybe as they say, hotel cooked food  lacks the warmth and love of a home cooked meal. Among all the amazing dishes that are there the one that I am going to write about is just a simpleton in front of the other more famous counterparts. But still this inconspicuous homely dish has a lot of filigrees of memory associated with it and interspersed with the quintessential flavour of Bengali cuisine – warm and near to heart.

Two things are very commonly used in this cuisine – Mustard and Poppy seed. Mustard in the form of oil, paste, powder or as a whole spice and poppy mainly as a paste.  Jinge Posto is one such dish which most of the bengalis are crazy about. The basic Posto preparation is made out of potatoes in a creamy poppy paste base. Variations include using onion, Ridge gourd, pointed gourd (potol/parwal), ladyfinger (bhindi), cauliflower(Fulkopi), yard long bean (borboti) etc along with aloo. Each version has a characteristic taste. My favourite is Jhinge Posto - soft jhinge and mushy potato in a clingy creamy poppy seed paste with a sharp flavor of Kalonji and some slitted green chillies building up the heat. Very personal and comforting.

 Check out the recipe here.

PS: I am humbled by all the kind words that Sharanya had mentioned about me in her post. Thank you Sharanya once again for giving me this opportunity to write the first guest post for you.
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