Flattened rice (also called beaten rice) is a dehusked rice which is flattened into flat light dry flakes. These flakes of rice swell when added to liquid, whether hot or cold, as they absorb water, milk or any other liquids. The thicknesses of these flakes vary between almost translucently thin (the more expensive varieties) to nearly four times thicker than a normal rice grain.This easily digestible form of raw rice is very popular across Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and is normally used to prepare snacks or light and easy fast food in a variety of Indian cuisine styles, some even for long-term consumption of a week or more. It is known by a variety of names: Atukulu in Telugu, Aval in Tamil and Malayalam, Chindé in Bengali and parts of Bihar and Jharkhand, Chira in Assamese, Chudaa in Oriya, Chiura (चिउरा) in Nepali, Bhojpuri and Chhattisgarhi, Pohaor Pauwa in Hindi, Baji in Newari, Pohe in Marathi, Phovu in Konkani, Avalakki (ಅವಲಕ್ಕಿ) in Kannada, and Pauaa/Paunva (પૌંઆ) in Gujarati.
I always use the medium variety of poha flakes as it does not get mushed up easily. This is a very popular breakfast dish in our household. It is usually teamed with a nice spicy Bhujia and some sweet halwa or jilebis on the side. Talk about decadence. Kanda Poha as it is called in Maharashtra is a celebrated dish and no Marathi celebration is complete without it. Apart from Maharashtra it is also very popular in Gujarat and Rajasthan. In the north its called chivda and is a popular snack there too.
This recipe uses beautiful mustard seeds and curry leaves to perfume the dish, lemon and coriander add freshness and zing, the spices add complexity and flavour and the sugar sweetness. Its a beautiful snack and a great hot breakfast. As a kid I never realised the value of a hot breakfast. The fact that my mother would get up early and have hot breakfast ready for me to eat before I left for school was something so regular that I took it for granted. During my Undergraduate years it dawned upon me exactly how lucky I was. Even now going home and having a steaming hot Indian breakfast is something I really look forward to.
1 cup Poha/ Flattened Rice flakes
1/2 cup frozen green peas
6 Curry leaves
1 Onion chopped
1 Green chilli - chopped
1 Potato parboiled and chopped into little cubes
2-3 tbsp roasted Peanuts
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Asfoetida Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 - 1 tsp Chilli Powder
11/2 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
In a colander put the poha and run water through it. Once all the rice flakes have become wet and moistened keep it aside to soften for 15 minutes. Once its softened add the salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice and sugar. Do not touch it or mix it. Just let it stand.
In a Kadai (wok) heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop add the curry leaves, green chilli, asfoetida followed by the onion. Give it a good mix and cook till the onion just starts to colour. Add the chopped potatoes and let it also crisp up slightly. Add the peas and cook for another 5 minutes.
Now add the poha to the kadai (wok). Mix so that everything is combined. Add the peanuts. Check seasoning add salt, lemon juice or sugar if required. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with a nice cup of Masala Chai (Tea).