Pohe (Rice Flakes and Peas)

June 4th, 2011

It looks like we will have no more peas after next week. Despite making 2 plantings several weeks apart, they’re all maturing at once. I blame the weather, at least in part. We’ve had disgustingly hot and humid weather lately and there will be plenty of that in July and August, no need to start so soon.

But anyhow, we ate lots of peas this week. I steamed them and served with butter and mint. I sautéed them with some scallops we brought back from North Carolina. And I made Pohe.

Poha package


This is one of those packages I would have passed up in the grocery store, not knowing what to do with it. But I asked my mother-in-law to write down some recipes for dishes her son likes to eat and Pohe is the first thing she wrote. Pohe, or poha as it is spelled on the package, is flattened rice. My understanding of the production process is a little hazy, but I believe it’s made by soaking or partially cooking rice, then pressing it and drying it. After this process, it can be cooked very quickly and, according to the spouse, is usually served as a light meal at tea-time. I generally make it at lunch time and, up until this week, always with frozen peas (petit pois). My mother-in-law’s recipes leave a lot of room for interpretation – I worked out the proportions for myself after making this a few times and having the spouse proclaim it as being essentially correct.

So here’s my mother-in-law’s Pohe, as codified by me. This is the amount I make for spouse and self for lunch.

Soak 1 cup of the thick variety of pohe/poha in enough water to cover. Drain after just a few minutes (5 or less).

Finely chop 1 medium or 1/2 large onion. Finely chop 1 or 2 green chile peppers. If using fresh coconut, grate a couple of tablespoons (but I use frozen grated coconut).

Heat about 2 tablespoons peanut oil over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter and pop, turn the heat down to medium and add a pinch of asafoetida and 3/4 teaspoon turmeric. Let that sizzle just a few seconds, then add the chopped onion and chile peppers. Stir until the onion is softened a bit, then add fresh peas and about a tablespoon of grated coconut. (I didn’t measure the peas, just added what I had picked, probably 1/2 cup or so. If you’re using frozen peas instead, wait to add them until later). Cover and heat for a few minutes, but go on to the next step before the peas are completely cooked.

Add the soaked and drained pohe, along with 1 to 1½ teaspoons sea salt, 2 teaspoons sugar and a few drops lemon juice (I used ½ a slice of lemon). (If using frozen peas instead of fresh, add them at this point.) Cover and heat until the pohe is tender, just a few minutes. When finished it should be moist, but fluffy.

Garnish with more grated coconut and coriander/cilantro leaves.


Pohe, the finished product

Next week’s entry in Wendy’s Garden-to-Table Challenge will really be a challenge. Except for the remaining peas, not many vegetables are ready to eat. If I can steal enough wild blueberries from the birds, maybe I can come up with blueberry-something.

Wild Blueberries

Wild Blueberries

4 Responses to “Pohe (Rice Flakes and Peas)”

  1. Diana says:

    This is the first time I heard about Poha ingredient. Interesting. I don’t think I ever come across it.

    • entangled says:

      It was new to me too – I learned of it just a couple of years ago. I buy it either at the Indian grocery stores, or the local Korean supermarket which has a large selection of Indian groceries.

  2. Wendy says:

    this sounds really delicious. I’m going to look for it and try it. Love all the ingredients (except for asafoetida – need to look that one up). I wonder if it’s sort of like Orzo when flattened? What kind of cuisine is this?

    • entangled says:

      Oops, I guess I should have said that this is an Indian dish from Maharashtra (Mumbai and surrounding area). The texture of poha is sort of spongy, not smooth like orzo. I think if you soak it too long, it would either fall apart or get very heavy and soggy. I was cautioned to soak it for just a few minutes.

      Asafoetida is a very acquired taste and has a very penetrating aroma, not necessarily aromatic in a good way unless you like it. I keep the plastic jar inside another glass jar and keep it away from other food and spices. In fact I store it next to some cleaning rags and yesterday while I was housecleaning, I kept smelling asafoetida. This is a long-winded way of saying you might want to omit it.

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