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The breakfast of Maharashtra – Pohe (Flat beaten Rice)

Every year during the Summer holidays the cousins in Delhi got a crash course on what we ate in Mumbai. My mother would carry packets of “Pohe” (Flat beaten rice) to make for breakfast much to the bewilderment of the cousins. Who would wonder why the hell did we “Bombaywallas” ate this Rice like thing in the morning when there were better things like Parathas (stuffed flatbread) & Chole Bhature (chickpeas served with deep fried bread) to be had.

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It did not help that my mother was not the best Pohe maker in the world. Her skills as far as making Pohe was concerned has considerably improved since then but in those days I remember the sad faces that everyone made trying to please her, with heads shaking in unison whenever she asked “Acche lage?” (Did you like them).

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And true to form, just like my mother my Pohe making skills left a lot to be desired as well. The first time I experimented with them in my mum’s kitchen, my brother puckered up his nose and said in the loudest voice “Chee kitne gande bane hain, main nahin khaonga” (yuck, they are so badly made, I won’t eat them). To give him credit, they were that bad. While I tried a few more times, I just could never get them to come out well. So I finally gave up. But when you live in Maharashtra, it is not easy to forget Pohe. Like a long lost love they keep coming back in your culinary life because everywhere you go you see them. Your neighbors make them; your friends make them, the local restaurants in your vicinity serve Pohe on their menu, and even your mother who used to be the worst Pohe maker in the world keeps making them and keeps getting better everyday.

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So over a period I have learned to do a passable job with them. Decent enough that I can serve them to someone without being blamed for food poisoning. Unlike Rice that needs to be soaked in water before you cook them, Pohe just need to be gently washed, so they become fluffy and not slushy. One of the great things with Pohe is you can add any garnish that you like Peanuts, chopped Tomatoes, desiccated Coconut; they work beautifully with anything you fancy. I love adding Peanuts and Potatoes in my version of Pohe and then sprinkle a little bit of Lemon juice on top as a final garnish. I just hope no one puckers up their nose while tasting this version of Pohe.

 

Recipe: (Cooking time 20 minutes, serves 3)

One and a half cups medium Pohe (I find them easy to handle)

One medium sized Onion finely chopped

One large Potato chopped (make sure you cut them into small pieces, so they fry quickly)

Handful of Peanuts in their skin

5/7 Curry leaves

Two green Chillies chopped (Don’t chop them too finely as they may burn someone’s mouth, I like cut them in bigger pieces so people can put them away if they don’t want to eat them and the dish still gets the flavor)

One tsp Turmeric powder

Salt to taste

One tbsp Vegetable Oil

One tbsp Mustard seeds

One Lemon cut into wedges to be served individually to garnish

 

Put the Pohe in a Colander and gently wash them under a slow stream of running water just for a few seconds. Using your fingers make sure you keep mixing the Pohe so that they have become wet. This is the most important step as I find that this is where I fail. If the pohe are too wet, they will become stodgy, and if they are too dry, they become hard. So ensure that you wet all of them without making them too slushy. Leave them to drain in the colander.

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped Potatoes and fry them till they are done. Remove them from the oil and drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

In the same pan fry the Peanuts for a minute or two without burning them. Remove them from the oil and drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

In the same pan on a medium flame add the Mustard seeds, Curry leaves, and green chillies. Add the chopped Onions till they have turned translucent.

Now add the fried Potatoes, Turmeric Powder, and Salt to taste.

Add the Pohe at this stage, should you feel that they are too dry sprinkle some water on them, mix them and add them to the pan. Mix everything well together and cook for five minutes on a low flame.

Turn off the heat and sprinkle the Peanuts on top and serve with wedges of Lemon to sprinkle on top.

 

Tip: As mentioned above if you are allergic to Peanuts, you can use uncooked chopped Tomatoes or a little desiccated coconut or some freshly chopped Coriander for garnish.

 

 

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About Author

bhavna

17 Comments

Maitreyi Nigwekar

I love your posts! They have such a great personal touch! :)

bhavna

Thank you so Maitreyi :)

Famidha

Ah! Love poha though it is not our staple food (kerala) I have had it plenty times during my years in Bangalore. I am not able to make this now after marriage as like your Dhili cousins.. he thinks its rice! :-( I have never tried with potato as I am always worried if it will get cooked.. may be boil them separately and then add? :-) Lovely bright pictures! :-)

bhavna

Famidha thank you for taking the time and writing..Poha is not for everyone I have to admit. I sometimes Boil the potatoes drain them and then fry them. That works too. The ring is from the brand “Pandora’

Famidha

BTW, I must have shared this before, I am in LOVE with your thumb ring and might be planning to make one for myself :-)

Ritika

A cup of chai and a bowl of pohe, couldn’t ask for a better breakfast! I usually make pohe just like you do, on a relaxed saturday morning. It’s like a gentle hug making me feel like I’m back in Bombay again. Couldn’t agree more with the part about soaking or rather wetting the pohe being the most important part! Thanks for another great post.
Cheers,
Another Mumbaikar Living Down Under

bhavna

Thank you so much Ritika. Pohe had been a long struggle for me but I have finally mastered them.

Divya

In this day and age where there are a GAZILLION food blogs, I find myself coming back to yours. Really love the way you write. :-)

bhavna

Thank you so much Divya, glad you like my blog.

Sharvari

I’m also a fellow Mumbaikar however raised in Texas. I found your blog and instantly felt like I was back at my aunt’s house in India sitting at the dining table. I completely agree with what you said about Pohe never leaving your site in Maharashtra! I’m a new visitor of your blog but I’m definitely going to keep returning :) I also love seeing your daily Instagram posts, keep it up!

bhavna

Thank you so much Sharvari, for leaving such a beautiful comment that made by day. Being away from home changes us right, I have become a memory keeper of Ghar ka khana :) Please keep visiting and leaving your feedback

Amanda

I love your thumb ring Bhavna👌 Its beautiful.

bhavna

Thank you Amanda, they are from a brand called Pandora.

Bharti

After tea,parantha i learned to make Poha and made them in our school’s SUPW camp.There was a tom-boy, single daughter,jolly and rich friend of mine,who had to help our team of 6.She soaked them in water and made big balls out of soaked,soggy Poha. Even added turmeric. I couldn’t resist her as i wasn’t a good,loud protester of injustice at that time😜.Somehow we finished cooking them and they had so horrible taste😖.

Kamini

Hi Bhavna,
As you said i truly admit even if you leave Maharashtra Pohe is something which will come back to your culinary by some or the other means. Also it taste good if you squeeze a wedge of a lemon on it. This dish on your blog took me to the childhood memories when my mum cooked it on weekends for family.

bhavna

Thank you so much for writing back to me Kamini. I am glad my post brought back memories.

Neha

My Pohe always get soggy, going to try this recipe this weekend

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