Poha is a scrumptious, easy-to-make savory dish enjoyed as a goodful breakfast or a snack. Originally native to Maharashtra in Western India, poha is a light, fluffy dish made with flattened rice seasoned with onions, potatoes, and warming spices. The earthy turmeric gives it a bright yellow hue and the fresh green chilis add just the right amount of spice.
My mom makes the best Kande Pohe in this world. My childhood memories are all about enjoying bowls after bowls of freshly made, steaming Poha on lazy Sunday mornings. I have been truly fortunate to have learned, tried, and tested my mom’s Maharashtrian Poha recipe, which I am happy to share with you all.
What is Poha
Poha or Pohe (dried flattened rice) is a staple pantry ingredient in Indian kitchens. These gluten-free flakes are popular in India and used in making breakfast and snacks.
Poha is available at Indian grocery stores and is sold in a few varieties - thick, thin, red, etc. Be sure to pick the thick white poha for this recipe as the thin flakes can get mushy after rinsing with water.
EASY Breakfast and snack
A popular breakfast served in Indian homes, Poha made using basic ingredients needs minimal prepping. I have sampled many versions of this wonderful vegan dish. My north Indian friends season it with peanuts while a few of my Maharashtrian friends add fresh green peas to their Kanda-Batata (onion-potato) poha. Either way, the end product is always uber-delish.
Being a Marathi Mulgi from Maharashtra, I prefer my simple and humble Kande Pohe. In fact, for every Marathi Mulgi, Pohe signifies a lot more than just a meal. In the olden days, a piping hot bowl of Kande Pohe accompanied by a steaming cup of ginger chai helped in forging many lasting matrimonial alliances. According to popular belief, a bride-to-be cooking up lip-smacking Kande Pohe would rule her kitchen.
Tips for making moist and soft poha
- Make sure to buy thick poha that is readily available in Indian grocery stores. Note: I do not recommend the thin variety, as it makes this recipe mushy. Thin Poha is best used for Chivda, a different yummy dry snack.
- Rinse the Poha in a colander under cold running water and drain out all the water. Press a grain or two between your fingers. It should break easily. Keep aside while you make the seasoning
- If the poha seems dry after cooking, sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, cover it with a lid and allow it to steam well.
- Pohe, is best enjoyed immediately; tends to get dry as it cools down. To reheat leftovers, sprinkle a little bit of water before reheating them in the microwave.
How to make Poha
Step 1: Gently rinse poha in a colander under cold water, drain out all of the water and keep aside.
Step 2: Heat the oil in a medium pan over high heat. Add the oil and mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to pop. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, lower the heat to medium and add cumin seeds and cook until they start to sizzle, about 10 seconds. Then add curry leaves, green chilies, and turmeric and mix well.
Step 3: Add onions, mix well and cook covered for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat as they start to soften. Next, stir in potatoes, and salt and cook covered until the potatoes are fully cooked about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Add Poha and sugar and mix well and cook covered on low heat for 5 minutes, until poha is heated through. Squeeze fresh lemon juice, and garnish with cilantro.
Although onions are a must in this recipe, there are many other variations. I like to add a peeled and finely diced potato to my pohe and here are some more ideas:
- greens peas
- diced carrots
- raw peanuts, add along with the green chilies and curry leaves
Since it is very easy to adapt, people have now come up with interesting versions of this contemporary Indian breakfast. The newer and healthier cousin, the vegetable poha, comes loaded with tons of fresh vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, etc) and makes for a wholesome meal.
These versatile Pohe can also be enjoyed sweet by adding freshly grated coconut and jaggery to the rinsed and drained poha, also known as Goad Pohe or Gul Pohe.
You can also use flattened rice, poha as a healthy cereal. Add the washed and strained poha to a bowl of warm milk. Top it with saffron, cardamom, and nuts, and drizzle a little bit of honey for perfectly sweetened Doodh Poha.
- 2 cups thick poha
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 8 curry leaves fresh or air dried
- 2 green chilies sliced lengthwise
- 1 large yellow onion diced finely
- 1 medium red or yellow potato peeled and diced small
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoon sugar optional but recommended
- ½ lemon
- ½ cup peanuts
- ½ cup green peas
- ½ cup corn
- ½ cup carrot diced
- Gently rinse poha in a colander under cold water, drain out all of the water and keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a medium pan over high heat. Add the oil and mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to pop.
- Once the mustard seeds start to pop, lower the heat to medium and add cumin seeds and cook until they start to sizzle, about 10 seconds.
- Next add curry leaves, green chilies, turmeric and mix well.
- Add onions, mix well and cook covered for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat as they start to soften.
- Stir in potatoes, salt and cook covered until the potatoes are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Add Poha and sugar and mix well and cook covered on low heat for 5 minutes or until poha is heated through.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice, garnish with cilantro and enjoy hot. You can optionally top the poha with sev, bhujia or nuts