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.
Poha Peanuts/Groundnuts Vegan Red Rice Flakes