Sunday, April 19, 2009
Kaanda Batata Pohe
Also known as poha, this is quintessential Maharashtrian snack/breakfast. I suppose the Kannadigas would like to grab it as theirs too but they will simply have to sit back with their akki rotis and the like (anyway, the Maharashtrians have very few dishes to call their own so might as well be generous!). The Kannadigas call it Avalaaki making the dish sound quite complicated.
I wouldn't normally be writing about something that one might find anywhere (recipe, gyan, actual dish) but today I prepared this dish as a means to thank my neighbours. It was a sweet surprise when they made fried rice for me (mom's out and they thought I don't know how to cook) for lunch. In a world where creatures you think will help you shirk simple gestures with a "Just because I don't demonstrate my caring does it mean I don't?" and other lazy excuses for their simple incapacity to reach out and be affectionate, it did come as a surprise to me to find decent human beings right next door! :-) So I made this for them. I would have loved to prepare an elaborate meal for them but I had to rush elsewhere and gestures delayed (IMO) lose their value.
Pohe brings back memories of Pune to me. We had what was called Hostel Five Canteen or HCF. Most of us had our breakfast there and it was usually pohe and sometimes with sheera (maybe a post about that later). HCF was just a shack but we loved being there with the "annas" (or as we called the boys/men who ran the canteen). They would always load my pohe with extra roasted peanuts and they recognised our "gang" well. Somehow, we were like a family there.
What follows is one way of making pohe. As I would always say, improvise after you have understood the philosophy of the dish. One can make this without potatoes and/or onion but it is not called pohe then! :-)
Poha (flattened rice. Here is a picture)
Jeera (Cumin seeds)
Measures, you would need to figure out. Since I have never measured, it is unlikely I would be able to give you any.
Wash the pohe in a collander ensuring that any husk is washed away. Leave it aside for a while and then wash it again ensuring that the pohe don't clump together. Add turmeric powder to this (after 3-4 washes) and mix well. The pohe should be coated well with the turmeric powder. I usually wash the pohe once more after this but mildly (else all the turmeric will get washed off). Drain, add some salt, mix well and set aside.
In a wok heat mustard seeds, jeera and urad dal in oil. Once the mustard seeds start spluttering, add peanuts, torn curry leaves and chopped chili. Saute for a while and then add finely chopped onion. Once the onion becomes translucent, add a little salt and chopped potatoes (I leave the skin on). Saute for a while and then add a little water, cover and heat. This will allow the potato to cook. Once the water has all but evaporated, add the pohe in batches after squeezing out excess water (and this is important else your pohe will resemble upma). Keep stirring and ensuring that the pohe don't clump together. Mix well and ensure that the pohe get heated/cooked well. You must keep stirring continuously to get a dry texture for the pohe.
Variations include adding grated carrots, coconut and tomato. As I said, it is best that you understand the basics and then improvise.