Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Posto Bora/Poppy Seed Fritters -- to save the soul

Friday was her Ma's Puja day. A day of thorough cleaning, sparse vegetarian eating, smoky incense sticks and hour long prayers.

She didn't like Fridays much. Ma would not let her sleep in late. Early morning the swoosh of the water across the courtyard followed by the broom would wake her up. Thwack-thwack it would go clearing the dirt, chalk dust from yesterday's hop scotch and dry leaves from the Neem tree.That was a signal for her to get out of the bed and take an early bath to avoid Ma's ire.

Before the morning newspaper hit the front veranda Ma would be in the kitchen trying to remove the turmeric stains from last night's maacher jhol. All those sounds of scraping and scrubbing would trouble her innards as she hurriedly dressed to catch the early bus. She wanted to be out before Ma started cleaning the green slightly rusted gas stove and soaping the red gas cylinder. Ma was never one to enjoy such tasks and the rituals she thrust on herself visibly irked her.

Outside she would breath and laugh and discuss Ma's rituals as ridiculous. She would take a bite of her best friend's egg roll ignoring the rule of being vegetarian on Fridays. It never occurred to her to question Ma's belief, to defy Fridays with any more stronger rebellion than this.

Some Fridays would be different though. Manu'r Ma, the maid would arrive early and amidst the clanking and scrubbing, she would hear the harsh monotonous sound of stone grating on stone. Manu'r Ma sitting on the floor would grind posto on the sheel, a pock marked slab of stone, turmeric stained by use and age. The red and green glass bangles on her thin, rough wrists would make a sweet tinkling sound while she rolled the smooth black nora, grating the poppy seeds by rhythmic regular pressure of her hands.

This is the shee-nora/sheel-batta the flat stone used to grind spices back home. Pic Courtesy my Dad

Those days she rushed home early. There was posto waiting at home. Earthy posto bata mixed with a liberal dose of pungent mustard oil and kancha lonka, the lightly crisp, flat posto bora and then aloo posto. Those Fridays she spent five whole minutes in the Puja room, muttering the only shloka she knew and promising to eat only vegetarian on all subsequent Fridays.

She smiled as she thought of those Fridays. How long has it been ? 20? or maybe more ? Her coffee grinder made a soft purring noise as it pulverized the white poppy seeds to a fine Powder. The Merry Maids scrubbed the upstairs bathroom. As soon as the Posto Bora would be done, she would light an incense in the Prayer room. Today was Friday.


Though this is fiction with heavy dosage of writer's imagination, Fridays were and are days we eat vegetarian and back home almost always my Mom would make posto on Fridays. She wasn't one to stick to rituals though. This goes to Chalks and Chopsticks -- 3 hosted by Sra and created by Aqua. I am not sure if this fits but this IS a very basic recipe/ingred/method in the Bong Kitchen so this post also goes to Jaya's B2B -- Back to Basics, if accepted, basically.

I am sure every self respecting middle aged Bong has made posto bora and know how to.

So this recipes is not really for them.

It is for those young bespectacled Bong grad students on their meager stipends and heavy work loads. Those who have used up all the minutes on their calling card for today is the 27th and pay day is not until end of the week. For those whose emotional balance is so skewed that desire of posto bora with mususrir dal and bhaat sits high up just next to an appreciative nod from the advisor.To give them some pleasure on a scorching hot Tuesday I will tell them how to make posto bora.


Posto Bora/Poppy Seed Fritters

Today I will not use my Magic Bullet which will make a better paste of Posto or Poppy Seeds. Instead the Coffee Grinder will be brought out, it is an inexpensive and a familiar feature in a sambar smelling, begun bhaja greasing grad student apartment (I hope!).

Put 1/2 cup of Posto/Poppy Seeds in the coffee grinder and make a fine powder, as fine as the machine can without burning up that is. This will make 4-5 posto bora.

Transfer the powder to a bowl. It might be grainy, you can't help it.

Add approx 4-5 tbsp of water to this powder and try to make a paste. Throw is some finely chopped onion, 2 green chili chopped real fine, salt and few drops of Mustard Oil. You don't have Mustard Oil ? Ok forget it and weep.

The paste will look runny. There is no way you can make bora(fritters) with them. So add a little Maida/AP Flour. I think 2-3 tsp should be ok. Add a tsp of flour, mix well and see if the consistency is still very watery. If yes --> add a half tsp more.
Note: If you happen to have a Magic Bullet or a sheel or anything where you can wet grind the posto to a fine thick paste, you might not need the flour.

Grease a flat pan with oil and put on the hob. Very little oil is needed to make these, 2 tsp at most.Mustard oil is the oil of choice here. If you don't have that again weep and use Canola.

Shape a flat fritter/tikki/bora kind of structure with your bare hands, it will be irregular and just hold its shape. Put it on the pan and let it cook at medium heat. Once the edges have browned flip. Now it will be flippable.Do the other side till both sides are nicely browned.

You can have these just by themselves or with rice. Tastes awesome. Ok, you already know that.

Similar Recipes:

Alu Posto

Kundru Posto

Jhinge Chingri Posto

Sharmila's Posto Bora -- one of my fav bloggers and I hope she comes back soon


  1. Sandeepa, you need to take writing
    Jhumpa Lahiri style.

    So this is poppy seed vada and it looks very tasty. I am visiting you very soon, please make sure this is on the menu :)

  2. Let me clarify that, "you need to take take up writing novels"

  3. Yeah why not, a novel idea indeed ;-)

    Sent you mail. BTW did you guys have a similar stone thing for grinding spices down South or is it more like a mortar-pestle ?

  4. Hey Bong Mom.. I love your writing style too. So I second the novel idea. These vadas look great. Nice post!

  5. I am head over heels with your writing style and the recipes ..... I was actually thinking to call my mom and ask for this recipe. Was elated to see that you posted it.

    Cheers and Happy Cooking,


  6. Wow, that looks wonderful !!! I never knew we could bora out of posto as well. Nice info :)

  7. Bless you, my love - eta bhishon bhalo bashi- posto baata in any form and bora

  8. I second Indo on that, you can note on both fronts..:))

    to answer your question, yes we have a similar flat stone. My mom had both the flat stone and mortar-pestle until 5 years ago. Nothing like grinding in that flat stone, masalas come out so well..especially poppy seeds..:) you know we use poppy seeds a lot in Andhra cuisine, and they get ground well only in those flat stones..

  9. Valli

    Yeah I know you use poppy seed paste in curries, kurma styles. I love those too

  10. and I third Indo that you should take writing seriously and start writing a novel. loved reading the piece Sandeepa. now tell me ato sundor bora ki kore banale. ami banale kamon bhenge jay...tabe ami mayda'r badole ektu alu seddho use kori.

  11. First: I can relate to that ritual so much, except in my case it was Sunday when mom wanted us to finish the chores and our baths and lunch all before midday, when all we wanted was to laze around. I felt like I was reading my memoirs.

    Second: The posto bora post is accepted. Since, it is a basic in the Bong kitchen. Thank you for the entry. :)

    Third: I am in love with potato posto ever since I ate it two years ago at a friend's place. Never been able to replicate since she didn't use fixed measurements. I just checked on your link and this is going to be on the menu tonight. And I too use my magic bullet to grind it. :)

    Fourth: The flat stone grinder is universal in India, I think. Cause living in MP I saw my Maharashtrian grandma use it and later I saw women in Gao use it in the back of the restaurants. I have seen them in Gujrat too, I think.

  12. Seriously Sandeepa, you should consider writing a novel or something of that sort, ofcourse you can through in a couple of recipes there too, and i will buy one. This recipe is for me too, i have never heard of this before even though i have had many Bong friends.

  13. Seriously Sandeepa, you should consider writing a novel or something of that sort, ofcourse you can through in a couple of recipes there too, and i will buy one. This recipe is for me too, i have never heard of this before even though i have had many Bong friends.

  14. Hi Sandeepa,

    Needless to say, a wonderful post, and yes, nostalgic for all those who grew up in and around Kolkata in the '70s.... with the nameless maids known by their child's name. Who'd remember actually what was Monu r Ma's name. Thanks for the lovely snaps of posto bora as well, really tempting. Will attempt on weekends.... Thanks for the idea

  15. uff..postor bora, my favorite with kalai-er dal..best and my fav. combo...pics are as usual lip-smacking, Sandeepa

  16. wonderful story, and so very nostalgic. And yes whenever ur novel is published, I will be among the first to buy it :)

  17. It is not an original comment, but I am joining the crowd, encouraging your talented writing skills! That a great post!
    And the non-bong Swiss wife of Bong Kolkatta boy is going to try this recipe tonight :-)

  18. oops, I pressed the wrong key too fast.
    (i don't like to leave anonymous comments!!)

  19. Both my coffee grinders are dead and I haven't found anyone who can repair them. I do have the mustard oil, though - it's become a staple, almost, in my kitchen. I've never had this and it fascinates me.

  20. that's just brilliant in its simplicity!

  21. Konto chere konta age pori bhujte parchilam ne. Posto bora r chobi gulo darun lagche dekthe. And I bet It would have tasted good also. Lekha ta darun enjoy korlam. Posto bora, gorom bhaat ar ekta kacha lonka uffff ki terrific combination na!!

    Hamaree Rasoi

  22. Sandeepa,

    Kalke eshe ratri eyi post ta porechi kinto koono comment likhte parlaam na , meyeta boro birokto korchilo :-)..
    khob bhalo lekha r era to aajke bolche , ami to last year hi tumaye bolechilaam , novel lekhar kotha mone ache ki na :-)..
    sheel nora dekhe koto je porono kotha mone pore gelo r likhele sodho-2 tumaar space ta noshto hobe ..
    Posto bora dekhte ki susadho lakhche..top kore ekta tole khete iche hoche..
    hugs and smiles

  23. Ahhh! As they say... nostalgia is priceless... and the posto bora looks yummm and am sure it is too. Will try it out this weekend. Thanks for sharing...

  24. Good memories, thanks for sharing them.

  25. Hi Sandeepa, I have been a silent and consistent reader to your posts. Simply love your writing as well as the recipes you provide. Must say that the food fiction here brought back a deluge of nostalgic moments ... great job. Writing a book should be considered! :)

  26. posto, one of my most favourite thing in the world! and posto'r bora -- slurp!

    you write so well that every time read your post, it seems as though i have been there, smelling, walking, eating ....

    btw, i managed to have a shil nora for me at bangalore and i still have my sorshe and my posto ground on it.

    thank you for keeping somethings precious and alive for us.

  27. Loved the writeup...brought back some similar memories of my childhood. Also thanks for the recipe. Not sure the countless times I promised to eat vegeterian going forward on the said day...hahaa..nicely done.

  28. Hi Sandeepa,

    I never knew about posto bora ..ooppss!!!!

    But I believe its never too late to learn.Thanks for the wonderful recipe...Gonna try it very soon.

    I really love your way of writing..you give us both audible and visual effects..like "thwack-thwack" , "green stove","red cylinder" ..Keep writing.Needless to say I love your heavy dosage of imagination.

    Take care.

  29. Hi,
    Which blade of the Magic Bullet do you use to make the posto paste? The flat one or the 4 blade one? I usually powder the posto & let it soak in water for sometime to improve the flavor. I do miss the sil-batta, oh, how I hated It & longed for these gadgets. But now I keep looking for one to keep in my kitchen to grind the chutneys 7 the masalas, & the dal for the dahi badas. I also make posto salan, & in winter, posto halwa. They are simply out of this world.

  30. Dear Sandeepa,

    Congratulations !! There is an award awaiting you on my blog space. Please go ahead n accept it.

    Cheers n Happy Cooking,

  31. Oh Sandeepa!
    Here I am, a "not-so-young", bespectacled, "no-longer-a-grad-student" Bong sitting up late at night and drooling in front of your posto bora... Your story is beautiful and the description of the posto-bata just makes it come alive. Maybe it is time to invest in a coffee-grinder just to be able to make this.
    By the way, I made luchis from your blog last weekend and they were fantastic! Thank you so much for the lovely collection of Bong recipes. Apnar blog-ta pore onek-ta home-sickness kete jay :)
    Thanks again, Sutapa

  32. Hi Sandeepa, posto bara
    recipe ta khub darun. Ami tomar jonno amar bloge ekta post dedicate korechi. Jodi paro dekho kintu. Thank you.

  33. Hi Sandeepa! Love your recipes and also the way you write. Also Beautiful pictures. I did try a lot of your recipes and most of them come out excellent.

  34. thank u sandeepa. chokta ektu jeno jaala kore uthlo.

  35. Sandeep I am with everyone else with the novel idea .. really. give it a thought.

    eta ebar kortei hobe. ar shudhu photo dekhe ar pore pore mon bhorate parchina. I cannot ever get mine to look so perfect and neat.

  36. What a nice story and a wonderful read. Love the way you write! (I am sure you are tired of hearing me say this). Poppy seed vada is totally new to me.

  37. Dear Bongmom,
    Tomar lekha niye r ki bolbo notun kore...as always...heart-warming!:) Posto bora'r opor eto shundor ekta post likhe you have touched some chord deep in my heart!Bhishon shundor!Onekdin dekha hoyna tomar sathe...kokhono ghure jeo amar blog theke:)

  38. hey am a copywriter and i might be just so tempted to steal your style..
    on an aside.. love the recipe, and posto is my favourite thing.. isn't aloo posto and mushoor daal absolutely Godsent?

  39. Hello Sandeepa,
    I loved reading your writeup! It was like reading a nice article in a magazine:)
    Poppy seed Fritters are very new to me, but would love to take a bite!!

  40. Thanks Everyone for all the kind words. It is extremely sweet of you guys to have liked this simple post. A huge thanks

    I am sorry but I have been busy a bit lately and am not able to respond individually.

  41. Sandeepa This is a surprise Bora. Just poppy seeds! I am wondering won't the Bora crack? Yours look smooth. Lets see when I can try.

  42. What a beautiful piece, Sandeepa! A real joy to read -- you have a gift for painting pictures with words :) I like the photo from your dad, too.

  43. Very very nice - the story and the recipe :)

    Reminded me of my Mom's Friday pooja rituals - we all tip toed around her on Fridays - she would have to cook, clean and pray as well as pack dabbas et al before leaving for school at 9am. Dad used to call her the literal many armed Durga on those days - twirling around like a tornado!


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