How To Make Poha: The Ultimate Indian Breakfast

Photo Credit: Azra H/Shutterstock


In many cultures around the world, the first meal of the day holds importance. If eaten properly, breakfast boosts our energy, aids in weight loss, and makes us feel a lot better about starting our day on a good note.

Yet in the throes of the daily grind, we tend to forget about having breakfast, and sometimes we skip it — because who wants to have a piece of toast or eggs every day?

Not me. If you ask me what I love having for breakfast, I'd say either idli sambar or poha and masala chai. While preparing the former is a different ball game, the poha recipe is pretty straightforward and not difficult to master.

Poha is flattened rice steam-cooked with onions, potatoes, spices, and herbs. It's usually eaten for breakfast or as a quick evening snack.

Although the dish originates from Maharashtra, the western state of India, it's well-liked in many households across the country, including mine. If you want to try making poha for breakfast, here's what you need to do:

1. Put 1½ cups of uncooked poha in a bowl and rinse it properly. Drain the water completely and set the bowl aside to let the rinsed poha dry.

2. Take one medium-size onion, one large boiled potato, 8-10 curry leaves, and 3-4 green chilies and chop them into small pieces. If you don't want the poha to be very spicy, stick to only 1-2 green chilies.

3. After cutting the vegetables, run your finger across the rinsed poha to ensure it has thoroughly dried and there are no lumps to break. If it's still mushy, let it dry for another five minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat a pan with 1-2 tablespoons of oil and fry a handful of raw peanuts until they become crunchy. You can also roast the peanuts if you like. Once done, set the peanuts aside for later use.

5. Now, put 2-3 tablespoons of oil in the pan and set your burner on low. Let the oil heat for a few minutes before adding one teaspoon of mustard seeds. Let them crackle.

6. Add the chopped onions, boiled potatoes, curry leaves, and green chilies to the pan and stir the ingredients properly, again on low flame, for 3-5 minutes. If you aren't careful, the curry leaves and green chilies can burn quickly, so keep an eye out.

7. After that, add 1/2 teaspoon each of the following spices to the pan: black pepper, turmeric, and red chili powder.

8. Mix all the ingredients in the pan for a minute and then pour the fried poha into the pan. Before stirring, add one tablespoon of oil, the fried/roasted peanuts, and salt (to taste).

9. Put a lid over the pan and let the poha simmer for 3-5 minutes. If you feel your poha is a bit dry, sprinkle some water and then cover the pan.

10. Once you take the pan off the stove, add lemon juice to the poha and mix it well. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with tea.

Getting the right texture of the poha can be a challenge because it can't be too lumpy or too dry after rinsing. The key is to ensure the uncooked poha feels soft but not mushy after being washed (and dried). Good luck.

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