In Devesh and Tara's Spice Pantry kitchen tour we were led on an Indian spice adventure in Tara and Devesh’s Manhattan apartment. Devesh shared two recipes: one for a typical western India breakfast item of “flattened rice,” known as “Poha” and another for the authentic way to prepare Chai.
Both dishes were rather extraordinary: the poha was an unexpected, full-flavor, mildly spicy, fluffy rice full of different elements. It is both hearty and light at the same time, and amazingly satisfying. You would only encounter this dish if you have the good fortune to eat in an Indian home: it is not typically available at restaurants. There are a few specialty ingredients that require a trip to the Indian grocer, but believe me; it’s worth the trip!
Poha ingredients, clockwise from top left: cilantro, diced potato, curry leaves, asafoetida, green chili, lime, onion, turmeric, black mustard seed, cashews.
Poha (flattened rice)
(makes ~3 cups)
2-3 cups (when dry) (thick) Poha (flattened rice)
A pinch asafoetida
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1-2 green chilies (chopped small) (or according to desired level of heat - can leave out if you prefer)
1 onion (small dice)
1 potato (small dice – use the waxy kind, i.e. red bliss, Yukon gold, eastern white. Avoid boiling potatoes, which don’t retain their shape once cooked)
1/2 cup peanuts or cashews
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
4-5 curry leaves
Salt to taste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped) for garnish
Fresh lemon (to squeeze at end)
Soak the Poha for 5 mins then drain in a colander (there's a thick and a thin Poha - this recipe is for the thick Poha). Heat oil in a pan (Devesh uses a wok). Season with asafoetida, then mustard seeds. As soon as they crackle, add diced onion and green chilies. Fry until translucent.
In parallel, heat diced potatoes in microwave for ~2 minutes to partly cook them. Add turmeric and curry leaves to hot oil once onions are done. Add nuts. Add heated potatoes. Sauté until potatoes are done. Add Poha and salt and mix thoroughly. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and lemon juice (or lime juice) before serving.
Kitchen Tour: Devesh and Tara's Spice Pantry
for step-by-step photos of cooking poha
(All images: Sabra Krock of Cookbook Catchall)