Poha means flattened rice and it is available widely in India and in all Indian stores here in US. This poha can be made into variety of recipes such as sweetened poha, kanda poha (with onions), dahi poha (with yogurt) etc. Kanda poha is a traditional dish of Maharashtra – the state which I belong to from India. It is prepared by soaking the dry poha in water for about 15-20 minutes to soften it and then cook it. Kanda Poha has a fascinating tradition; in India where arrange marriages are so common, kanda poha signifies the occasion when a boy and his family goes to the girl’s parental home to see her for the first time, and the girl makes kanda poha for the family. I have never made kanda poha for anyone, but here we jokingly tell each other “kanda poha kelas ka?” literally meaning “did you do kanda poha?” and jokingly it means, “did the boy come to see you?” These small little rituals of a traditional life in India are something that I miss in my sometimes robotic US life! But aside from the marriage aspect to it, poha is a light snack which can be eaten as a main course too, if you are feeling too lazy to cook.
Funny story about poha; when I came to US, one of the first things I made here for kanda poha, and though it had seemed easy to make when mom made it; when I made it was an absolute disaster….too salty, poha wasn’t soaked enough in water so was dry, too much turmeric powder so was bitter. But slowly with couple of more tries and with lessons learnt, I got it right and have now been making it right for years. So here is the tried, tested and tasted delicious and simple poha recipe.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Category: Appetizers, snacks
- 2 cups of dry poha
- 2-2.5 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 2-3 green chilies – depending on the heat
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 medium sized potato
- ½ cup green peas – fresh or frozen
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon coriander-cumin powder
- 1-1.5 teaspoon sugar
- Juice from ½ lime
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro for garnish
- Wash the poha in a colander, and keep them soaking wet while preparing the vegetables. The poha will fluff up as it takes in water and become soft instead of crunchy.
- Finely chop the onions and potatoes. If in a rush, the potatoes can be boiled and then diced into cubes. If cooking them directly in the pan then make small cubes to cook them quickly. Also finely chop cilantro for garnish.
- Add cooking oil to a deep pan, add mustard seeds. Heat the oil for few minutes, until the mustard seeds start sputtering. Then add the curry leaves and green chillies and cook for few minutes. Then add the finely chopped onions and potatoes.
- Add the turmeric, coriander-cumin power and salt to the mix in the pan. Cook with intermittent stirring until the potatoes are cooked and become tender. Then add the pre-soaked poha to the mix and give a good mixing.
- Keep mixing and add the lime juice. At the end, the soaked poha should turn from white to yellow. Garnish it with chopped cilantro and enjoy it with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
- If using frozen green chilies, add the onions and potatoes to the oil and then add the green chilies. This will prevent the water in the frozen chilies from coming in direct contact with the oil and avoid a coughing episode.