Poha is a golden bowl of sunshine that packs a delicious punch. Each bite is a revelation: tender flakes of beaten rice studded with crunchy peanuts, grated coconut, fresh coriander and squares of soft potato, all tied together with a squeeze of fresh citrus. Usually eaten as a quick breakfast or a snack, it is simple to make and very addictive. Serve hot, alongside freshly cut wedges of lime or lemon.
Note: Poha or flattened rice flakes are available at Indian supermarkets or grocers. If you can’t get hold of fresh or frozen grated coconut, use desiccated coconut and re-hydrate it be soaking in a tablespoon of hot water for 10 minutes.
Serves two for breakfast, 4 as a snack
175 gm flattened rice flakes (see note)
1 medium onion (100 gm), finely chopped
1 large potato (175 gm), boiled and cut into 1 cm cubes
2 green chillies, thickly sliced
10—15 fresh or dried curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons ghee or sunflower oil
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
150 gm roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
A small handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon grated coconut (see note)
Salt to taste
Heat the ghee or oil in a wok or kadai on a high flame, and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the chopped onion and green chillies once the mustard seeds start spluttering, about 20 seconds. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions get translucent, about 5 — 7 minutes.
Meanwhile place the poha in a large, fine-lined sieve and gently rinse under running water, much like you’d wash rice. The flakes should lose their crispness after 30 — 45 seconds, and become softer. Taking care not to break the flakes up, gently shake the sieve to remove any excess water. Sprinkle over with turmeric and salt to taste, using your hands to mix through gently. Set aside.
Once the onions are done, add the cubed potatoes to the pan and stir to mix in. Tip the spiced poha mixture in and gently fold everything together — it will feel a bit heavy and lumpy at this Reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for 3 — 4 minutes. The flakes get nice and fluffy, and everything takes on a beautiful golden hue thanks to the turmeric. Stir in the chopped peanuts and check for salt, adding more if necessary. Turn off the heat, sprinkle over with chopped coriander and grated coconut, cover and allow to steam for a further 5 minutes.
Serve immediately with wedges of lime or lemon.