Many years ago I had briefly mentioned about Popti on this blog. I have not been able to make the real thing but here is a modern Popti. Is it or is it not?
In and around Alibag winter is when Val is harvested. The celebration of the harvest is with this special dish called Popti, it has hardly any spices and is cooked on wood fire. The Val fresh and young are stuffed into a terracotta pot lined with leaves and cooked in its own juices. The smokiness of wood fire takes it to a sublime level.
Popti is never eaten alone, its always for a party. The pot is kept in the center and everyone sits around the pot warming themselves idyllically in the warmth of the now dying embers of the fire on which the Popti was cooked. I have never experienced this Popti making on our farm in Thal but the elders tell many a stories from their childhood of flipping on Popti and then having farting competitions following it, the notorious Val doing the magic.
When a group of us blogger friends had visited Bengali Mashi's Kitchen last year, I had loved the veggie paturi. It was bundle bursting with flavours, sharp from the mustard and the tender Val beans cooked to perfection along with delicate spinach wrapped in a banana leaf. However as per the Bengali tradition the paturi was fried in mustard oil. I had commented that I would have preferred it steamed. It was on my mind for a while to try at home.
Yesterday I was at the APMC market and found tender Surti papdi. I was pondering on making Popti or the Paturi. For the Popti I don't have a terracotta pot and no wood fire. The Paturi without banana leaf is not a Paturi after all. So I decided to give the idea of making two similar dishes a modern twist. Ah! and it did fit so well for the event Preeti is hosting on her blog, an attempt to fight plagiarism is a positive way.
The flavors of this dish are classic Bengali and yet the cooking technique I used is inspired by the Marathi Popti.
If you love simple healthy food full of flavors that burst in you mouth and textures that tickle your palate this one is a pleasure.
1 bowl Surti papdi or any type of tender beans in a pod
1 large bunch spinach, chopped fine
3 tablespoons mustard seeds
4 green chillies
¼ fresh coconut, grated or sliced
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste.
Remove the string of the Surti papdi or anyother bean pods you are using. Check that they are fresh, young and worm free (none of the pods should have holes or brown marks). Wash.
Clean and wash the spinach, chop fine. My 2400 ml casserole filled up with it.
Grind the mustard seeds, green chillies, coconut along with salt to a paste.
Mix together the bean pods, ground paste, turmeric powder and sugar. Put it all in a casserole, cover with lid and microwave for 15 mins. The spinach will wilt and leave a lot of water and the bean pods will cook in those juices. The next 10 mins microwave without the lid, so that the water evaporates.
Finally heat the 2 teaspoons of mustard oil to smokiness and drizzle over the baked casserole. Mix well. Serve while warm.
I am sure you will enjoy the same happiness of a Popti done in the farms of Alibag; indoors at your home or are you already in Bengal?
This post marks a change on this blog that I have delayed for too long until my picture was blatantly lifted. Did you see the watermark? It is the stamp of my ownership. This is to stop copying!