Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Flaking Out

Operation Springclean is making me eat healthy. Well, somewhat, if you ignore the peanuts I added to this dish. Those of you who read my previous post know I have a lot of healthy, organic stuff languishing in my pantry – today, I chose to deal with organic red rice flakes (poha, atukulu, aval, beaten rice).

I wanted to make a tamarind version but there was no recipe in my books, no cartridge in my printer, and no memory in my brain, so I couldn’t register when I had to add the tamarind extract to the flakes, and those recipes on the Net didn’t mention how much water I had to soak the tamarind in.

I first tasted Maharashtrian poha only last year. A couple of friends and I had gone to Matheran for a break, and before we fixed up transport to go to our resort, we had breakfast at the canteen at the local authority. It was full of monkeys, grimy and rather sparsely furnished but there was no other option and we needed breakfast after the early morning ride from Bombay. My friends, used to living in Bombay, passed up the poha and asked for toast and omelette but I opted for the poha – I’d only heard of it till then, had never had the real McCoy.

Of course, I’d had these red rice flakes even then and attempted poha from a cookbook but on both occasions it ended up tasting wrong even though I had no standard to compare it with – I just put it down to the thickness of the poha – today I realized I should have soaked it for twice as longer.

The poha at the Matheran canteen, was, of course, a revelation – it triggered off the memory of ‘atukula pulihora’ that my grandmother had rustled up for a friend and me a few years ago when we visited her but that was more like lemon rice. That was made with white flakes, as was this - with a few peanuts, a little sugar, and not much tempering. I think there was a bit of onion as well, I can’t be sure though it was only eight months ago – put it down to fatigue!

The recipe I’m posting today is a variation of that. Again, I made do with what I had at home – having a pantry bursting at the seams doesn’t necessarily mean I have everything it takes all the time, so I had to buy a few peanuts, make do with fewer limes than I wanted … you get the drift.

Here’s what you need:

Red rice flakes/poha/atukulu (the thick variety) – 125 gm/1-1/2 cups
Peanuts/groundnuts – a handful, roasted, coarsely crushed

Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Split, husked urad dal/black gram – ½ tsp
Red chillies – 3-4, broken
Green chillies – 1 big or 2 small, slit
Coriander - chopped, a handful
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Oil – 2 tsp

Wash the rice flakes well in a colander – make sure every grain is washed and wetted through – and let it be for 45 minutes. The right consistency is when the flakes should feel firm when pressed but mash easily – I know that sounds contradictory but you will understand when the flakes yield. Check after 30 minutes, if they aren’t ready, wash them once more. But soaking, or washing in hot water, is a no-no because they break or disintegrate very easily.

Heat oil, season with mustard, urad dal, red chillies and curry leaves, in that order. Let 1) the mustard pop, 2) urad dal begin to brown, 3) red chillies turn brighter and 4) curry leaves crackle.

Add the peanuts, swish around the pan just once.

Now add the green chilli(es) and the rice flakes.

Season with salt.

Mix well, but with a light hand.

Add coriander, mix.

Eat with a squirt of lime juice or plain.


  1. when I came from India I had brought some of these. real healthy food. your version looks yummy. I dont find this in US.

  2. OH! What drama for a poha dish?! ;D
    Loved reading it and Avalakki uppittu looks great.Red Aval is interesting:)
    sra,you just add 2 tsps of tamarind juice,that's all you need if you like to add it.Hope you are having a great day there my friend.

  3. Sra.....you have been eating lots of healthy stuff recently...i think you should treat yourself with some fatty stuff once in a while :)


  4. Hey this looks lovely. Even I have now in my house. I will try your version. Thanks for giving me a good idea. Thanks for sharing.

  5. The poha is looking nice. You had to struggle with soaking becoz they were red poha . The white poha needs one wash and thats enough,and use it after 10-15 minutes.
    I thought you were going to add tamarind, that would have been a nice experiment :))

  6. Such a comfort food. Viji

  7. Going lite indeed eh?? ;)

  8. Those red flecked poha are quite lovely.....I haven't had those before. I do love this treat every now and again, I add onions and corn sometimes.....adding peanuts is such a good idea. I'll try that.

    Cheers, trupti

  9. I love poha, its a all time favorite.
    Try adding a a little lime juice at the end and mine is always yellow because I also add Turmeric

  10. I've never tried red rice flakes...but I love poha anytime...your version sounds good too...like Sandeepa, I add turmeric powder and the dash of lime as well...

  11. Sharmi, thanks. I'm surprised you don't find it in the US - I'm not sure what red rice this was but try looking for rosematta rice flakes, think I've seen it mentioned in the blogs.
    Asha, aha! I knew someone would say this - well, how do you make poha interesting without a story and peanuts and what not?
    Mishmash, you've been buzzing inside my head - got a peda as one of my colleagues was distributing it, and then licked the choc sauce off the Spouse's ice-cream, after a huge meal of fried chicken!
    Jyothi, thank you, hope you enjoy it!
    Arch, I would have, only I didn't know at which stage to, and how much. It's quite a common dish in the South, as I came to realise.
    Viji, I guess so - for me it's rather a novelty.
    Coffee! I had this dishonest notion soon after posting it that I could submit it for MBP simply linking to somebody else's poha dish, but scruples took over!
    Trupti, now corn and poha is fusion, I should try that sometime!
    Sandeepa, I left out the turmeric deliberately, and I did mention the lime juice - it tastes better with lime.
    Sunita, yeah, just make sure to soak them longer if the flakes are thick.

  12. Ooops sorry Sra, its right there in the last line, didn't see in the ingreds and shot off the comment.. Sorry

  13. Hey, don't bother, I didn't include it in the ingredients list because I had only one hard lime which refused to yield much juice!

  14. Red rice flakes, first time I'm hearing about this. Thanks for bringing it to the fore.

    The bowl of food looks fit for tucking into with a spoon not a fork.

  15. Red rice is on my to-try list, when I find some -- I didn't know you could get poha made of it as well. This looks delicious, Sra!

  16. Love red rice flakes... Haven't had poha, but my mom makes a sweet dish with it....
    Ahhh I Totally identify with ur pantry story :) At least you are making good use of the stuff finally... I had to throw so much stuff out during my spring cleaning :)

  17. looks like u r eating healthy food sra... i guess even i should clear my pantry n start eating healthy;) i dont remember eating red poha... i thought we get only one type of poha n that is white... and in that white poha, we get thick n thin ones...

  18. Now you have me LOL, Sra. Full of monkeys...You are so matter of a fact.

    Have never heard of flaked rice. This looks like a satisfying, healthy start to the day, even with the peanuts. Yes, they have fat, but protein and other elements, too.

  19. Cynthia, sugar demands a fork, LOL! That reminds me, many people eat this with sugar!
    Linda, I see this only at a few shops myself, and then too, the thin variety - I bought this in an organic foods store.
    Sig, now that your mom is there, post the recipe sometime, maybe we can feel less guilty about eating sweet then. In my kitchen too, there's much that's gone into the dustbin that gave birth to life forms!
    Sia, this pantry-cleaning is proving a bit much - I'm having sugar-laden dreams of cakes and puddings, ulp!
    Susan, yes, it's a forested area, so lots of monkeys - I could have given a v evocative description of the place but it would have put off the readers, it was so dirty!

  20. this one is so cool and yummy ....i love poha ....will try ur recipe soon

  21. Thi is so healthy dish...Love it...

  22. Deepa, hope it turns out even better for you!
    Sukanya, thank you!

  23. looks lite and healthy and I agree with mismash in this..