Poha

Fluffy Poha is a delicious flattened rice, easy- to-make quick breakfast. My mom makes the best Poha I’ve ever eaten. Her recipe owes its origin to the west coast of India. Puzzled that a southerner would borrow from the west? Then read on to unravel the mystery of the delicious Poha’s wanderings.

Haribai called my dad over to her home, with promises of sweet treats. The young lad drawn to her sweet nature and the extra promise of sweet treats readily went over. As he grew up, he would recount fond memories with this Marathi family. I was so surprised to hear of such a natural bond between families. As I explored and asked my aunt later, things crystallized. I wanted to share this recipe, as not many know about the history of this ruling clan and its bond with Thanjavur.

17th century Thanjavur was rich. Cuturally and abundantly endowed with fertile lands, she was called the rice bowl. Even today cooks from Thanjavur are revered. if I had the gumption to suggest to my mom that her already delicious poha might benefit from a lighter hand on cumin, she would retort ‘long tongues, from Thanjavur’, translating to ‘a penchant for fine tastes’. A person from Thanjavur is known to easily grativate towards all things esthetic. From the entire life cycle of cooking, from gardening, to cooking to presenting, Thanjavur elevates it to an art form.

The Maratha kings occupied Thanjavur in the 17th century. While the Marathas culturally influenced Thanjavur, there was a symbiotic exchange. E.g the rulers borrowed tamarind, from Thanjavur cooking. In the Maratha court, an incredible fusion of the north and south thrived. The art of storytelling called ‘harikatha’, where the storyteller weaves analogies, plots & subplots within her music evolved to an amazing synthesis of Maratha and Thanjavur cultures.

‘Haribai had green eyes and the most loving temperament. In addition to caring for her children, she would welcome us to her humble home & care for us in the same way”, reminisced my dad fondly.

Did you enjoy my story revolving around Poha? Did you know its history? Do you think you might give a try to making my recipe?

You need
1 cup poha, thin grain version, rinse and let drain in colander
½ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup potatoes, diced, steamed
¼ cup cauliflower cut into florets, steamed
¼ cup peas
1 tbsp peanuts
¼ tsp cumin seeds
2 thai green chilies(reduce if lesser heat preferred)
1 tsp ginger, grated
½ tsp turmeric
4 curry leaves
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
½ fresh lime

¼ cup grated coconut (I used dry dessicated)
3 tbps oil (I used grapeseed oil)

Heat oil in pan. Add cumin, ginger, curry leaves and peanuts. Sauted till peanuts are roasted. Add onion and sauté till soft. Add in chilies, potatoes, cauliflower, peas, turmeric & lime. Stir till all veggies are coated with spice oil. Toss in poha, stir everything and turn off stove. Cover and let sit for a minute. Remove lid, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

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