Poha (Savory Rice Flakes)
Updated: Feb 28
Versatility meets convenience in this popular, hearty breakfast dish.
Last week, our family went on a hike. It was actually going pretty good(probably because I had something in my stomach already), and we were off to a good start. And then...I got stung by a bee.
I never realized how much it sucked until it actually happened to me. And what did I do? I yelped out in pain, because it felt like someone stuck a tiny knife into my ear and then poured LEMON JUICE on it. Like, ow. So I whined for about 10 or 15 more minutes of the hike, and then we went on. The weird part was, all my family could see was a little welt where the bee had stung me. I searched it up when we went home, and apparently when a bee stings you, it leaves a sack of venom and a stinger in your skin, to which I immediately panicked and started bugging(no pun intended) my parents about it. They assured me that everything was fine, and now, a few days later, it's like nothing ever happened.
So what, exactly, does this have to do with today's recipe? Absolutely nothing. The only sort-of relation is that poha is one of our family's favorite breakfasts, before or after morning hikes. (Technically my awesome mom's recipe, but still.) It all just comes together, ya know? The soft rice with the crisp and creamy potato, studded with peanuts, coriander, and the occassional piece of onion. Especially this past weekend, when I ate it, it was just so good. And it's awesome for your body too! The dish boasts a load of fiber, iron, magnesium, and, when combined with the peanuts, protein as well! In short, one of the best dishes overall-for you and your health.
And, since it's typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack, it's super quick. The only thing that takes a couple minutes is the potatoes, and you have to make sure they're done by slicing them with whatever stirring tool you'll use(for me, a wooden spatula). Then, simply add everything else, mix it up for a few minutes, and you're done! You'll be sitting down to a bowl of this faster than you can say poha.
Um, maybe a little slower.
This recipe's ingredient list may seem daunting, and the directions appear lengthy and confusing, but I promise, this will take no longer than 15 minutes.
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Author: Prachi Marfatia
2 tbsp oil(ghee, safflower, sesame, any mild/neutral variety)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 tbsp peanuts(can sub cashew pieces for allergy-friendly option)
4 curry leaves
1 tsp spices(equal parts turmeric, coriander powder, chili, asafoetida(hing)
2 small or 1-1.5 large potatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 onion, diced or thinly sliced
15 regular handfuls dry rice flakes(aka poha, or flattened/beatened rice)
Fresh coriander, to garnish
Optional add-ins, like diced tomato or shredded carrot
Chop the potatoes thinly, into one-inch cube-sized pieces about a couple millimeters thick( so they will cook fast, see picture below for a size reference). In a large pot, add the oil, cumin, and mustard seeds on medium heat and wait till they start bubbling and sizzling, about 2 minutes. Then add in the sliced potatoes, peanuts, curry leaves, spices, and a pinch of salt. Mix for 3 minutes and then cover with a lid for 3 more minutes. Meanwhile, submerge the poha in water, dump in a sieve, and leave there for a couple minutes. Meanwhile, give the potatoes a little stir and put in the onion. Cover with a lid and cook for about 4 minutes. To the poha, add in the turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp sugar(optional). Mix it well, then put it in the pot with everything else.
By this time, the potatoes should be done. Check by using your mixing tool to gently slice one in half; if it's an easy job, you're done. It may need a couple more minutes though. GENTLY fold the poha into all the other ingredients so it doesn't break, scraping around the sides of the bowl and mixing carefully. Take off the heat after a couple minutes, garnish with coriander, and serve warm. That's it!
P.S: Just a quick visual on how thinly the potatoes need to be sliced. Strive for uniform, even pieces, but the ocassional large chunk is totally okay.