Poha – Flattened Rice

Poha – served  with Cilantro-Mint-Coconut Chutney
The first time I had Poha was in an Indian home, for breakfast.  I went home and found a recipe on youtube.com, got the ingredients and made it right away.  Poha is a common breakfast in the South of India, where rice is king (in the north, it is wheat).   Really, the only must-have ingredient, is the poha itself – it is a flattened rice that cooks in a few minutes.  You can buy a HUGE bag for a couple of bucks at any Indian market – get the thick poha.  The other ingredient to get from the Indian market is the curry leaves – their flavor is hard to describe – roasted, slightly pungent, bitter, astringent and sweet.  Once you master it, this dish takes 15 minutes to make, and can be served with plain organic yogurt, or a cilantro or mint chutney.  It’s a great breakfast for anyone, but particularly for Kapha types – who should avoid starting the day with the sweet taste.   And makes a really good spicy start to the day in the spring!

Ayurveda Stats…Rice is called vrihih in Sanskrit – meaning “life-giving seed”.  The grain is praised numerous times in the vedic tradition. Rice is nourishing, sweet, easy to digest, cooling and sattvic.  Short grained rices are more moist and chewy, while long grain rices are drier and fluffier.  Those with robust digestive fire can enjoy brown rice, while those with more sensitive, slow, hyperactive or delicate digestion can enjoy white rice.  This poha recipe balances the cool, sweet & moist qualities of the rice with vegetables and spices that imbue the dish with pungent, sour, salt, and bitter tastes for a balanced simple dish.  

A Package of Thick Poha - from an Indian market.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups thick poha (flattened rice, available at Indian markets), rinsed soaked in water for 5-10 minutes then drained
  • 2-4 TB sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tb chopped ginger
  • 1 green chilie, chopped (optional)
  • 5-7 Curry Leaves (optional, available in produce section of Indian markets)
  • 1 Cup vegetables, chopped into small cubes (eg. carrot, white potato, corn kernals, peas, lima beans)
  • 1/3 Cup cashew pieces
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro leaves
  • lemon or lime juice (optional)
Opening up the herbs in sunflower oil.

Instructions

  1. Prep the veggies, ginger and chillie.
  2. Rinse & soak the poha and set aside.  Drain after 5-10 minutes. (You can let soak while you heat the spices).
  3. Heat the oil or ghee in a medium to large pot.  Add the cumin & mustard seed over medium heat four about 2-3 minutes, until aroma is emmitted.
  4. Add the ginger, turmeric, chilie, cashews and curry leaves and stir into the oil mixture for 1 minute
  5. (remember to drain the poha!)
  6. Add the vegetables, stir to coat, and cook over medium heat until cooked through (add more oil or a little water as needed to prevent sticking)..
  7. When veggies are cooked, add the poha (without the soak water)..
  8. Stir to coat cook 5-10 minutes, stir occasionally (add about 1/3 cup of water as needed to prevent sticking)
  9. Garnish with squeezed lemon, a sprinkling of dried coconut and / or chopped cilantro.
  10. You can serve this plain with a mug of sweet chai, cilantro chutney, or organic yogurt (choose one, as none of these combine well together in your belly!)
  11. (I must admit, I ike this dish SALTY… it really brings out the flavor).
Cooking the vegetables in the spice before adding the poha.
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