I often come across people who hate cooking. I believe that cooking is a life skill, something as important as cleaning your wardrobes every week, maintaining personal hygiene, and ability to keep your home neat and clean. One of my life’s mission is to ensure that people overcome the mental barriers they have with respect to cooking, and start preparing some simple dishes.
This post is meant for all those people who never think twice before ordering a pizza on a day maid doesn’t arrive, or worst still boil a Maggi to break their hunger (I am a firm believer in having Maggi, only when I feel like having Maggi, not because of the lack of options).
Ok enough of lecturing, sharing a short and simple recipe of how to get your Poha (Flattened Rice) right, one of the easiest things one can start with. And yes, will start posting recipes of some simple dishes soon.
Step 1: Buying the right Poha
This is the most important step for getting your Poha right, don’t buy the very thick one (popular in Maharashtrian Poha, fried chiwda, or Avlakki Bhath in Karnataka), or the very thin one (used for making chiwda in Maharashtra). Buy something in between, but more towards the thinner side. Touch, feel and compare poha while buying, might help in judging the thickness.
Step 2: Soaking Poha
If buying the right Poha is 50% of the job, soaking it right makes your task 95% complete. In the picture I use a large strainer to soak it. Wash it nicely under running water, and drain out excess water. Another way is you wash it in a vessel, drain the water, and then place it over a clean cotton cloth (to help soak out excess moisture). Remember to drain out the excess moisture, otherwise you will get a mashy consistency.
Add some Red Chilli and Turmeric powder, some salt, and a pinch of sugar and keep it on the sides.
Step 3: Preparing Poha
Chop a large onion and some green chillies. You can add potatoes too but that will increase the cooking time. I anyway like my Poha to be Potato-Free. Keep some onion for garnish later.
I love adding peanuts to my Poha. The problem with peanuts is that if you add it in the normal cooking process, they tend to either under or overcook, which kills the fun while eating. I start with putting some oil in a pan and first frying the peanuts in it. Ensure that take out the peanuts at the right time (deep reddish brown in color). Add those peanuts to the same plate/strainer with soaked poha in it (to ensure that oil is not wasted).
Now add some jeera (cumin seeds) to oil and let it crack. Add onion and chillies and fry it for sometime on on low flame. Add a bit of salt as it helps release moisture out of onion and will facilitate its cooking. Lesser the oil, more the time and stirring required. But salt does help in quickening the process.
Once the onions change their colour, add the soaked poha and peanuts and mix it nicely. Use soft hands (as Dravid) to ensure minimal damage to the consistency of poha. More power you use, more the damage to the poha, and more the risk of it losing its shape and consistency.
Add some chopped coriander leaves, squeeze a bit of lemon juice, sprinkle a few drops of water, mix, and then cover it for 2 mins or so.
Step 4: Serving Poha
Once its done serve it with Sev (I use an Indori Double Laung, which is a thick spicy sev with lots of clove in it) and chopped onions. I also sprinkle a bit of Jeeravan (a much spicier version of chaat masala minus the sourness) over it.
Enjoy Poha, goes well with Jalebi and a hot cup of chai.
If you want to know more about Poha, Indore, and the things which make it so special read A Day in the life of Indori Jalebi.
Featured image from Google Images, other inline images from the cooking process in my kitchen.