Tag Archives: coriander

Poha – Subah ho gayi mamu!

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What do you do to ensure that a person is fully awake and his/her faculties are all up and running? Dash some water on his face? That may work for most of the people, but there are exceptions. Say…that person is an Indori. So? Water may work, but not as good as Poha ! Thrust a plateful of poha inside the Indori and you will notice a marked impact – not only will the person be wide awake, but joyful and jumping around! In words of a PG Wodehouse fan (me) , poha to an Indori is as stimulating as one of Jeeves’ pick-me-ups to dear Bertie. No wonder Wikipedia mentions Indore in ‘Poha’ and Tripadvisor mentions poha in ‘Indore’. Born and brought up in the city, I don’t even know how to start talking about the humble thing. We had it at home, as a simple breakfast and as a treat when guests arrived in the evening. We had it on family gatherings and picnics. We had it in the college canteen (We procured a pack of plastic spoons from our home just to be fully equipped to gobble down poha, though we are ill equipped at most times to attend labs and classes). We had it in the market, on the roadside, on shopping trips, on the railway station…In fact, I don’t remember a place or occasion where it did not fit in.

Poha – best breakfast ever!

While the home made one was OK, the best poha you could find in the town is on little stalls/ thelas on the roadside – heaped up in an iron wok, kept on a pot of boiling water to keep it warm. When required, the shopkeeper would pick up a newspaper square, fluff up a handful and thrust it into the paper, throw in a variety of condiments – onions, sev, namkeen, boondi, lemon juice and finally sprinkle a mysterious masala (mysterious because till date I have not been able to coax a single stall owner to divulge the ingredients of the masala, or give me a kilo of it). No, it does not take hours to do this, the shopkeeper is done in a matter of seconds. You can either have it or get a ‘to go’ parcel – neatly packed pudiya in a polythene bag.
About me, though I kept taking it for granted during all my life in the city, I realized I was missing it as soon as I landed in Bangalore. There were stalls and roadside carts still, but serving idlis and wadas! Thanks heavens for Indori roommates – dear N and J, who would cook up a heap every other weekend – plentiful for us and for all the friends and colleagues living nearby. And thank God I had enough sense to get the entire recipe from both of them – masters in their art, that stays with me till date – and I remember them every time I dish out this breakfast.
I would rather get down to the recipe before I end up writing an entire article in praise of poha – because the praise goes on an on, but the recipe is quick and simple – no fuss-n-frills!

sev – married to poha since eternity

Ingredients –
Poha/ Chooda/ Flattened rice – 3 fistfuls (1 for each person)
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For tempering –
Rai / Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – Half tsp
Saunf/ Fennel seeds – Half tsp
Heeng / Asafoetida powder – 1 tsp
Green chilies – 1, cut to half and slit lengthwise
Oil – 3 tsp
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Haldi / Turmeric powder – Half tsp
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Salt – as per taste
Sugar – half tsp / as pr taste
Lemon juice – of 1 lemon
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Aaloo / potato – 1 small (peeled and cut into very small pieces)
Pyaj / Onion – 1 big (peeled and cut into very small pieces)
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Sev / Bhujiya / Namkeen / Boondi/ chopped onion/ cilantro leaves – for garnishing (optional)

Method –
1. First Put the poha in a sieve/colander/ chalni and wash the poha gently. You don’t have to do this for more than a few seconds. Keep the colander in a tilted position so that excess water drains out and the poha is soft and soaked – but not soggy.
2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed wok/ kadhai.
3. Once hot, throw in the ingredients in the ‘for tempering’ list.
4. Add in the very finely chopped pyaj. Let this cook till soft and starts to brown.
5. While the pyaj is cooking, add the salt, sugar and lemon juice to the soaked poha and mix gently with your fingers, lest it all breaks up all forms a lump. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
6. Once the pyaj is cooked, add in the potato pieces. Add in haldi at this stage too. Let the potato cook till soft.
7. Once done, switch off the gas and add the poha. Mix all of it till all the poha turns yellow – an indicator that all of it uniformly mixed up. Do this very gently, there is no rush anyways – the gas is off.
8. .Now, we cook this further on steam. Heat water in a bhagona/ patili / pot (water half filled). Once steam starts to come out, place the kadhai filled with poha on it. Cover the poha and let this cook for 10 minutes. Even if you want to keep it warm till the entire family has had it’s share of hot breakfast, you can keep the gas on on slow flame – this keeps the poha warm.
9. While serving, garnish with whatever you like. As the poha is as it is not very spicy, the bhujia/ sev adds the zing.
10. If you got jalebis as a side to this, you are either in heaven or in Indore. For mortals, a hot cup of tea works best.

Sending this to event ‘ Bon Vivant Moments Breakfast Ideas‘ on Sumee’s Culinary Bites.

Karaari Arvi

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Here is another vegetable which is available in abundance during the prolonged summers of Delhi, but feared by many due to its stickiness and white glue oozing out. Some people also complain about the itch it induces in your hands while cleaning the raw vegetable, but I have somehow never experienced it. My mom makes it as crispy and dry as kurkuri bhindi. Just that, precautions similar to the ones while cooking bhindi need to be taken, else your arvi will be nowhere near karaari. Again, a liberal use of homemade coriander powder is very important.
This one is tangy and spicy, making it a perfect candidate for being carried in train travel, with poori or paratha. I love to eat it by mixing it with simple daal and rice though.

karaari arvi

Ingredients –
Arvi – 250 gms
Green chili – 1, chopped small
Oil – 1 tbsp
Haldi/ Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Jeera/ Cumin – 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carom seeds – 1 tsp
Dhania powder / Dried coriander seeds powder – 2 tbsp (you may not need all of it)
Garam masala/ kitchen king masala – half tsp
Salt – as per taste
Juice of half a lemon

Method –
1. Clean the arvi by wiping each with a damp cloth. We do this as we do not want the arvi to get wet. Wiping will not clean the arvi entirely, as it got a hairy exterior, which will go only when you peel it. If the arvi has too much of mud sticking to it – wash each arvi thoroughly, but make the same effort to wipe it dry it too.
2. Roughly peel each arvi using a knife. The potato peeler won’t work as arvi does not have peels exactly – you need to clear off the hairy exterior using the knife.
3. Cut arvi into thin, stick like pieces. Thin does not mean like a potato wafer, but like a Britannia Nice Time biscuit :). You will notice all cut pieces sticking together with a white glue like thing – but don’t worry about it.
3. Heat oil in a wok/ kadhai. It is better if you use a non-stick pan with a flat base. I use Prestige frying pan.
4. Add in jeera and ajwain and let them crackle and sizzle for a minute. Add haldi and the green chili pieces.
5. Put in the arvi pieces and mix. Use a spoon to separate and spread out the arvi pieces. This will need some effort and time, but it is worth it. All the pieces should be covered evenly with the oil mixture.
6. Let these cook on a sim flame, without covering it with a lid.
7. As it gets cooked, it will turn soft and shiny. Move around the arvi pieces gently as it cooks.
8. After 8 to 10 minutes of cooking, add salt. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of dhania powder liberally and mix.
9. After another 5 minutes, check for the arvi to be cooked, by trying to break any piece with a spoon. If it happens easily, the arvi is cooked. You can sprinkle the garam masala and stop cooking now. However, since we are not here to cook arvi but karaari arvi, continue to cook till you see the thing getting crispy and golden brown.
10. Use your judgment to draw the line – the one between crispy and burnt. Switch off the heat and mix in the lemon juice. Serve.

Coriander powder/ Dhane chi pood

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dhane chi pood/ Powdered Coriander

Dry coriander powder or ‘dhane chi pood’as we call it in Marathi – something I cannot cook without. Not only is its presence important, it is very important that it is home made. First – it’s use. It is used in all dry sides – sprinkled after the sabji is cooked to give it a crispy texture. Example, in bhindi, potato or arvi. Next, it is a major ingredient in the stuffing in most stuffed vegetables. Though it has an aromatic and pleasant taste, I would confess that I love it more for its texture than taste. Now, why homemade? That is because I have failed to appreciate the dark colored, tasteless saw wood dust they sell in the market with the name of coriander powder. I tried all brands – all found unfit for use. Hence, whenever I run out of it, I jot down coriander powder seeds to my grocery list. I prepared it even in my short, 4 month stint at the US – using my $6 blender – giving satisfactory results. If I am not able to make it, I rather cook without it, but never use the market substitute.

Pretty simple to make, this can be stored in bulk in an airtight container for months. For safty’s sake, I store mine in a Ziploc bag in my fridge.

Ingredients – Sookha dhania / Dry coriander

Method –
1. Handpick the dhania for any unwanted pieces of gravel, mud. These, if ground along with the dhania pods, will add disaster to the powder – you will end up tasting sand in all the dishes you add it to.
2. Dry roast the dhania pods in a wide wok for 3 to 4 minutes, on a low flame, stirring in between. We are not trying to ‘cook’ the coriander – we only need any moisture to escape.
3. Switch off the flame, forget about the coriander for an hour or longer (let it cool completely).
4. Put the dhania in a blender/ mixer/ grinder and powder them. We want it rough textured and non-uniform, not a very fine powder.