Tag Archives: snack

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.

Bread transformed – Upma

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Hubby N has something against bread. What and why, I could never get out of him. My statement is based on his reaction on various occasions involving bread – the question marks in his eyes when I pick it up at the grocery shop, the frown on his face when I produce bread-butter for breakfast and the worst – the big NO he howls out in answer to ‘sandwich?’. As a result, the pack that I buy on one weekend sits in the refrigerator till the next, doing nothing but aging. Hence comes in this Saturday breakfast – bread transformed to a yummy upma, with green peas thrown in and a dash of lemon squeezed in. And thankfully, N loves this! Maybe for the peas and not for the bread, but I am happy till he gobbles down a plateful.

bread transformed to a yummy upma

Ingredients –
10-12 slices of bread – white works best, brown would do too
Green chilies – 2, slit lengthwise, cut to halves
Jeera/ Cumin – 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carom seeds – 1 tsp
Haldi/ Turmeric powder – half tsp
Heeng – one fourth tsp
Meetha neem/ Kadi patta/ Curry leaves – 10 to 12 leaves
Lemon juice- freshly sqeezed, of half a lemon
Salt – as per taste
Sugar – one fourth tsp
Kitchen king masala/ garam masala – half tsp
Green peas – half cup
Oil – 2 tsp

Method –
1. Tear the bread into bite size pieces. Don’t crumble them intentionally, some will be crumbled anyways. Remove the borders of the bread if too hard – I usually leave a few on.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok.
3. When hot, add the curry leaves, chili pieces, ajwain and jeera. Let these pop and sizzle for a minute.
4. Add in haldi, heeng. Mix within the oil mixture.
5. Add the green peas. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or till the peas have turned soft. I usually use thawed frozen peas, which take just a minute to cook.
6. Put in the bread pieces, salt. Mix gently so that all bread pieces are covered with the masala.
7. Sprinkle (not a bowlful! Just a few drops, to add moisture) some water and cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
8. When you remove the lid, the bread pieces should have turned soft. Add in the sugar and garam masala and let it cook opened for 2 to 3 minutes, turning around the pieces every few seconds. This would help the pieces get crisp and crunchy.
9. Sqeeze in the lemon juice and serve hot.

Mathri – the perfect snack

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How does it feel when it is your baby’s first day at school? And how does it feel when you are not able attend? Yeah ok, I know baby A has been going to the daycare at the same place since a month. She is familiar with the place and people. And also, it is technically not ‘school’ but ‘playschool’. But still, she carried a small school bag and tiffin box and a bottle today – and that qualifies me to create all the panic and excitement and jumping around about it, and also to have butterflies in my stomach. About my not being able to witness the big day – I don’t know when I will be able to break the “schedule-meeting-at-the-most-inappropriate-time-n-day” habit :(.

Anyways – so when I got a call from the daycare supervisor that baby A needs to carry a small tiffin box with finger food to eat in the ‘playschool recess’, I had to go the ‘thinking out of the box’ way. She could not carry khichadi, dalia or sooji kheer – that was for sure. Her aaloo paratha and cheela qualified but she needed a literal finger food too. While I was brooding in the kitchen, baby A sat in a corner munching. I looked at her to check if she had ‘edible’ stuff in her hands (not the week old biscuit she found under the bed). And Eureka! My problem was solved – she could carry what she was munching on – the light, crunchy, melt in your mouth mathri ! She can hold it easily and she loved the lightly salted, mildly peppered taste.

Though there are several versions of mathri and the conventional one is like a round disc, this is what my mom makes and she is a master at it. They are always so crisp, that if not ‘handled with care’, they often break into pieces en-route from Indore to Delhi. I have the exact recipe, but never once have I been able to replicate my mom’s creation. Maybe baby A’s affiliation to them gives me another push to perfect myself.

Ingredients –
Maida/ all purpose flour – 2 cups
Rawa/ Sooji – half cup
Salt – 2 tsp
Ajwain/ Carom seeds – 1 tsp
Roughly ground black pepper – 1 tsp
Oil/ ghee – 1 cup (for the dough: you may not need all of it)
Milk – 1 cup (for the dough: you may not need all of it)
Oil – 2 cups (for deep frying: you may need more of it!)

Method –
1. Mix (with your hands) maida, sooji, salt, black pepper powder in a wide bowl.
2. Soak ajwain in a bowl of water for 5 minutes, add it to the above. This would make the ajwain bind to the dough and prevent it from getting separated and settling down in the kadhai/ wok while deep frying. This is a tip my mom read somewhere. Alternatively, just throw in the ajwain while mixing in step 1.
3. Now, add ghee/oil to the dough spoon by spoon, and keep rubbing it in the dough. Keep doing this till the dough looks crumbly. Test – if you hold the dough tight in your fist and release it, the dough should hold shape.
4. Add milk little by little to bind the dough. We need a very very firm dough – with as little liquid as possible. Test – you should not be able to poke your finger into the dough.
5. Keep the dough (covered) aside for an hour.
6. Take enough dough to form a (tennis) ball and roll it to a thick roti with a rolling pin/ belan. If you have done a good job with the dough, it should be difficult to roll out the dough, you will need to apply some pressure on the rolling pin.
7. Cut into rectangular mathri(s) using a knife.
8. Before starting with step 6, keep a wide kadhai/ wok with oil on a medium high flame. Test – the oil is hot enough if a small ball of dough slipped in sizzles to golden pink and rises up.
9. Reduce the flame to sim/ low and add in a batch of 10-12 mathri(s), depending on how wide your kadhai is.
10. We want these to be deep fried for a long time (5 to 7 minutes), so that they are cooked from inside and crisp on the outside. Turn them around twice or thrice – so that they look golden, light brown uniformly. These should not blow up like a poori, but remain firm.
11. Take them out of oil and dump them on a newspaper/ tissue paper to drain out excess oil.
12. Store in a airtight container when cooled off completely. Munch on as and when you like :).