Food & Wine

Nutritious snack doubles as tasty breakfast

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If you’re looking for new options for a quick and nutritious breakfast or snack, poha, or “flattened rice,” is a flavorful dish from Western India that just may fill the bill – and your stomach.

Poha almost tastes like light and fluffy scrambled eggs – and is purely vegetarian. It is typically not served in Indian restaurants, so many in the U.S. haven’t tasted it. It would be worth a trip to the Indian grocery store to gather all the ingredients and learn to make this savory comfort food.

I like to keep the spices to a minimum, but you could turn up the heat by adding a few freshly cut green or red chilies. It could also be served with coriander chutney for extra zing.

The roasted peanuts in the following recipe pack an extra crunch. Poha derives its yellow color from turmeric, which boasts natural anti-inflammatory properties. The curry leaves are “known to stimulate digestive enzymes and help break down food. The health benefits of cilantro come from beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants, especially the flavonoid quercetin. The lemon juice offers a boost of vitamin C.

Gitika Baveja is author of “Indian Flavors to Savor: The Easy Home-Cooked Way.” For additional recipes, visit


• 2 cups dry poha (flattened rice, available at Indian grocery stores)

• 2-3 tablespoons olive or canola oil

• Pinch of asafetida (optional)

• 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

• 1 small onion, chopped

• 1 small potato, boiled

• 2 tablespoons peanuts

• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

• 5-6 fresh curry leaves

• Salt to taste

• Pinch of red chili powder

• 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise (optional)

• 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (to garnish)

• Fresh juice from 1/2 lemon


Add dry poha to large colander or sieve and wash under running water for 2 minutes until well moistened. Drain.

Heat oil in pan. Add asafetida and mustard seeds. As soon as mustard seeds start to crackle, add peanuts and fry until brown and crisp. Add chopped onions and curry leaves. Fry until they begin to turn slightly brown.

Add boiled potato, chili powder and turmeric and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add green chilies (optional).

Drain poha completely and add to above mix. Season with salt to taste and mix well. Poha should be fluffy and moist. Cook for 2 minutes or so. Do not let it dry.

Garnish with chopped cilantro. Squeeze lemon juice over poha and serve hot.

Variation: Replace peanuts with cashews and serve with green cilantro or coconut chutney.

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