Poha or Flattened Rice
I thought I would show you guys an ingredient I’ve been messing around with this week calledpoha. Indeed, it does look like fish food, but it’s actually raw rice that has been flattened to a thin, flake texture. What this does is make it easy to digest, so you don’t really have to cook it! Simply adding water or milk, whether cold or hot, will do, and the flakes will swell absorbing the water (and whatever flavors you add to it). Think of it like instant mashed potato flakes for the South Asian diaspora
I learned about poha from a Nepalese friend, and it’s eaten throughout his home country as well as parts of North India and Bangladesh. The rice is an easy, “fast” food and is often sold by street vendors, though many families use it as their staple breakfast food. It’s super versatile – from a breakfast porridge reconstituted with water or milk (the end of the cornflakes bowl comes to mind) to lightly fried with mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilies, onions and potatoes.
What I love is how poha can be sweet or savoury. Why slog for, okay, like 30 minutes or so making sweet, creamy rice pudding when you can make it in under 5 minutes with this stuff? Simmer heavy cream and milk with sugar, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla, whatever spices you like – pour over poha, a few minutes soak time and voilá! It also makes fantastic weeknight rice dishes (I’d make it like this pulao) in a fraction of the time. Kind of genius. And I’m also a bit fixated with deep-frying them and sprinkling them over foods as a crunchy garnish.
Have you ever cooked poha? What’s your favorite dish with it?