The taming of the lau and why posto is truly the opium of the fusspots

Bhaat lau posto and dahi. Don't know if the dish is authentic but the colour of our kitchen floor sure is!

If you are not new to the blog, then you might be familiar with a hashtag that I use called #littlejackhornermeals. If you are not, then let me tell you a bit about it. It is a hashtag that I started a couple of years back when I had decided to bring in certain changes in my eating habits as dictated by medical test reports that I had received and the advice of my dactor. As a part of this, I moved to having more of home cooked meals, meals featuring millets and whole grains, hung curd dips instead of butter, cream, cheese, more of fish than meat and more of vegetables than I have ever had before in my life! Including vegetables such as bottle and bitter gourds, which I had stayed away from in the past. Trying the find out innovative ways to enjoy them became my life's mission. Using pretty plates to make the mundane seem majestic. I have a hashtag for that too! #platesoffinelychopped

#littlejackhornermeals comes from the nursery rhyme which ends with the central character asking, 'what a good boy am I?"

I felt that I deserved a pat on my back for making this self-initiated change in my life, though I must admit that with time I really began to enjoy these dishes.

It is during the lockdown that my love for these simple, home cooked meals truly came to fore. Not just for me, but for Kainaz too. Simple vegetarian heavy meals, made with what is easily available, have dominated our lockdown kitchen menu over the past few months. I believe that this has been the case for many of our friends too.

There has been a bit of a deviation in the menu of late though, with us ordering and cooking more of chicken and mutton than before. This has cut down the proportion of vegetables in our meals. I have recently been trying out food from a number of home chefs as well. A lot of that has been a bit more elaborate and non-veg heavy than our new normal. I must confess that I begun to miss our simple lockdown meals even though I loved the food that we were were having.

Lau posto gets its share of the sun

Yesterday afternoon and the night before was a welcome change. The menu consisted of mushuri (orange masoor) dal, steamed rice, Jharna ghee from Kolkata, Ram Bandhu pickle from Nasik and lau posto.

Lau/ lauki/ bottlegourd is something that neither K, nor I, was fond of. We begun having it over the past couple of years and I have tried to make something interesting with it each time and have started to appreciate this humble but healthy vegetable with which we earlier had no relation. My mother would have the last lau, I mean laugh, on hearing this. She consumes bottle gourd by the dozen to keep her blood sugar in check and we often tease her about this. Who is the mummy now, she could say.

I decided to go for a 'lau posto' this time  to add excitement to the lau ; bottle gourd with crushed poppy seeds. I do not know if such a dish exists, but I am sure it would. Poppy seed is used quite prolifically in Bengal after all.

The combination turned out to be wonderful and why would it not be, for posto is lou (love in our Kolkata college/ school day slang) and makes anything better. Heady actually!

I make lau post the way I make the alu posto (potato with poppy seeds), and if you want the 'recipe,' then here goes. It tastes good, but am not staking any claims of 'authenticity'.

My Lau Posto recipe

Ingredients: 1.5 tablespoon of mustard oil, 1 teaspoon of nigella seeds, a bay leaf and chillies (fresh and/or dry), 1 peeled and finely cubed lau, turmeric , coriander and cumin powder, red chilli powder, 1/4 teaspoon of each, salt, 50 g of powdered poppy seeds soaked in 1/2 a small bowl of water

  1. Heat 1.5 tablespoon of mustard oil
  2. When the oil is hot, add a teaspoon of nigella seeds, a bay leaf and chillies (fresh and/or dry) and let it sputter
  3. Add 1 peeled and finely cubed lau. My mom and grand-mom stir fries the peels separately to make lauer khosha bhaaja. 
  4. Add a bit of turmeric (purists do not add it to posto say the Ghotis from West Bengal but I like to live on the edge), coriander and cumin powder, red chilli powder, 1/4 teaspoon of each, salt. Stir.
  5. Add the paste of 50 g of crushed poppy seeds/ posto (we grind it in a mixer and keep in the fridge till used, purists will faint on hearing this) and water (1/2 a small bowl)
  6. Cover with a lid and let it cook on a slow flame. If in a hurry, add some more water, bring to a boil, reduce the flame and let it cook till the paste is semi-dry
  7. Drizzle some mustard oil at the end for flavour. If you find mustard oil  too pungent, use any vegetable oil at the start and some ghee at the finish
The video below features Baby Loaf demonstrating how I use to run away from lau earlier in life!

I got an anonymous reader mail this morning questioning Baby Loaf's presence on the blog which I answered directly, but thought of sharing here for those who feel similarly on the subject.  I respect the time taken out to give feedback, but I have to stay true to myself I am afraid while writing. Incidentally,  I did a quick check of the blog and barring the previous post, nothing is 'Baby Loaf and not food focused'.

On a more positive note, I recently came across a quote by Dr Daisaku Ikeda, hon president of the lay Buddhist organisation Soka Gakkai International, on what he envisaged the Seikyo Shimbun, the newspaper published by the Soka Gakkai to be: "it must play a leading role in producing articles and writing that encourage and empower, and in uniting people's hearts toward overcoming the challenges they face."

A noble vision statement which I would like to adopt for Finely Chopped too and aim to work towards. Chhoti mooh badi baat as they say in Hindi, but why not? 

Please do tell me if you ever feel that I have digressed from what I am declaring to the be the mission statement of the Finely Chopped. That is feedback that I would take very seriously. Till then, stay home, stay safe, wear a mask if you have to step out. Exercise caution but live with faith and courage, joy and hope.



Sanjay N Lulla said…
You are keeping a good focus on food no worries about that. Baby Loaf, hmmmm only people like you and me can understand 😌. You have not digressed at all from the main focus of the blog.
Today's post reminded of a Bangla song though

Shadher laau banailo more boiragi
Shadher laau banailo more boiragi
Laauer aaga khailam doga go khailam
Aaga khailam doga go khailam
Laau di banailam dugdugi
Ami laau di banailam dugdugi
Shadher laau banailo more boiragi