Monday, April 10, 2006

Humble Offering - Poha


onion poha
Plate of Onion Poha


In Hindu mythology, there is a story of Lord Krishna and his childhood friend Sudama. They studied together as children and then went their separate ways - Lord Krishna became the Supreme One and Sudama went on to lead the life of a poor householder.

When Sudama fell into hard times and was in need of money, his wife suggested that he ask his friend Krishna for help. So Sudama set off, with a small bundle of "Poha" or flattened, dried rice that he borrowed from a neighbor.

When he saw the opulence of Krishna's palace, he was ashamed of his humble gift, and tried to hide it. Krishna was overjoyed to see his old friend and hugged him. He felt the small bundle and snatched it from Sudama saying "What is this? why are you hiding my favorite food?" and immediately put a handful in his mouth. He was about to take a second handful, when his wife stopped him. She said that one handful was sufficient for both this life and the next.

Sudama was puzzled by this, but didn't say anything. After a joyous reunion, he returned home without telling Krishna about the reason for his visit.

When he came home, he was astonished to see a huge mansion where his small hut used to be. His family came running to him and told him of the miracle that had happened in his absence. He immediately understood that even though he had not told the Lord, the reason for his visit, he had received His blessing and he realized what Krishna's wife had meant.

Humble offerings, when given with devotion, are elevated to the grandest of gifts!!

The "Poha" in this story is very simple, flattened and dried rice. It is a staple in the pantry of most indian kitchens and although it is typical peasant food, it is found in all indian households, rich or poor.

When seasoned with spices and gently steamed, it has a "melt-in-the-mouth" texture and fantastic aroma.

It is typically served for breakfast and is quite light and nutritious. My mom used to make this for a snack when I came back from school and I would pounce on it much like Krishna did in the story!

Despite its humble background, Poha makes a wonderful supper or a potluck dish. When garnished with coconut, fresh tomatoes and cilantro, the vibrant red, green and white against the brilliant yellow of the turmeric infused poha never fails to elicit some "oohs" and "aahhs" !!

So, here it is - Onion Poha - humble, earthy, delicious.

poha uncooked

uncooked poha




Ingredients:

2 cups of poha (thick variety)
1 medium onion
1-2 green chilies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
juice of 1 small lime/lemon
a few curry leaves (5-6)
salt to taste
a pinch of sugar (optional)
1 tbsp fresh/frozen shredded coconut
1 small tomato
a handful of cilantro leaves

Method:

  1. Wash the poha well in several changes of water.
  2. Set aside for 30 mins to 1 hour
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan
  4. Add the mustard seeds and when they pop add the curry leaves, chopped onions and chopped green chillies.
  5. Saute the onions till translucent
  6. Add the soaked poha
  7. Add the salt, sugar and turmeric powder and stir well.
  8. Cover the pan with a lid and let poha steam for 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with a little water if it seems to burn at the bottom.
  9. When the poha is well cooked, turn off the flame.
  10. Add the lemon juice and mix well.
  11. To serve, garnish with fresh chopped tomatoes, grated coconut and cilantro leaves.

The crunchy, sweet juiciness of the tomato provides a wonderful contrast to the soft lemony bite of the poha.




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40 Comments:

At Mon Apr 10, 09:05:00 AM 2006, Blogger Luv2cook said...

WOW..SH...the pics are awesome and I also love poha. It was also good to read the story. I knew it but hadn't been reminded lately of it. Thanks!

 
At Mon Apr 10, 10:02:00 AM 2006, Blogger BDSN said...

I like the climax of the story..very very true which many of them do not understand...

 
At Mon Apr 10, 10:03:00 AM 2006, Blogger Vineela said...

Hi SF,
i love poha .This is very easy dish to make and have with hot coffee in the evenings.
I love ur pics and poha too.
Vineela

 
At Mon Apr 10, 10:03:00 AM 2006, Blogger BDSN said...

Sorry!!In the grasp of the story i totally forgot about the poha!!

Great pictures and lovely earthen pots!!

 
At Mon Apr 10, 10:03:00 AM 2006, Blogger Lakshmi said...

i like this dish.

 
At Mon Apr 10, 10:45:00 AM 2006, Blogger Sumi said...

Somehow, in our household , I have never seen my mom using poha.we just use during the saraswati puja , ayudha puja holidays, that too just mix it with jaggery as it is and munch on it.Iam not sure if its the same way in all south Indian homes..Anyway, Iam greatly attracted by this dish, the idea of making it as a snack draws me towards the kitchen.great story and good pictures.

 
At Mon Apr 10, 11:03:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your post and the story too. Good to get reminded of it after ages... brought back wonderful old memories of my Amar chitra katha books.. My mom used to make poha regularly too.. she also added potato for a more filling tiffin.

Aparna

 
At Mon Apr 10, 11:05:00 AM 2006, Blogger Kitchenmate said...

Saffron: As always I am wondering how could you so wonders with the photographs. Story, food and photos makes this post humble, unearthy, absolutely delicious:)[as always!!!]
I love that terracotta pot...
I am bowled over with the photos and the way you write! Hats off to you buddy yet again!!!!

 
At Mon Apr 10, 11:47:00 AM 2006, Blogger Mahek said...

i make poha so often and i had planned to send a post with poha i even have the photos.
but your photos look wow.
and the poha look so delicious.
bye
mahek

 
At Mon Apr 10, 12:18:00 PM 2006, Blogger MM said...

What a fabulous post! I love the story - in fact it reminds me of one of my favourite books by Krishna Chopra. I've never had poha but now I am really intrigued. I'm so glad I found your blog. I've really enjoyed all your posts, recipes and gorgeous photos. Thanks!

 
At Mon Apr 10, 12:20:00 PM 2006, Blogger Vaishali said...

Hey SH,
I wanted to do a post on this soon, but you've won the race.
Anyway, I would like to share with you here that I acted in a school drama based on this story in Class 2. I was Sudama, and guess what, I (meaning Sudama) was chubbier and happier-looking than Krishna (another girl from our class). Rukmini was even thinner and had teeth overwhelmingly blackened by decay. She was given strict instructions to not smile during the play at all. :)
Well, those were the days...

 
At Mon Apr 10, 12:37:00 PM 2006, Blogger Saffron said...

All Thanks so much!

I love poha with a good cup of tea and a good book. Buying ACK for my kids is just an excuse to read it myself :)

BSDN and KM I thought the little earthen pot matched the rustic poha recipe

MM, you are too kind :) thanks so much. I'm glad you like it.

Vaishali, I just burst out laughing at the picture you painted!! too funny :)
I hesitated before posting this, as there are several recipes for poha in blogosphere. I went ahead anyway because I wanted to collect all these recipes for my children in one place. Ok, they are 10 and 5 - ways to go before they start cooking !!

 
At Mon Apr 10, 12:55:00 PM 2006, Blogger Santhi said...

long time since i heard this story SH. ....
I know a lot of recipes out there but each of them is a little different on their own. I made poha over the weekend. Its going to be my version of poha soon. :):)

 
At Mon Apr 10, 01:29:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Vee said...

Hi SH,

Was trying to think of something I can make as an evening snack , came to your blog and found the answer. Poha it is today!!!
As always, You have managed to make the humble poha very royal.

 
At Mon Apr 10, 02:17:00 PM 2006, Blogger Revathi said...

Wow Wow Wow !!!!!!

I dont like poha much - its kind of soggy for me. but Aaaamazing foto. Did u give a thought about doing professional food fotography ? No I am serious. I think you will do greattttt in that. Cheers !

 
At Mon Apr 10, 03:32:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Priya said...

Hi Saffron, wonderful pictures...I miss my TInkle and Amar Chitra Katha after reading ur story...I cud infact see the pictures from those books as I was reading ur story..:-)
I love poha ..especially on rainy evenings..somehow my mother always guessed when I craved for them and had it ready when I got back from school :-) .. I wud love an addition of peanuts to ur recipe ;-)

 
At Mon Apr 10, 07:00:00 PM 2006, Blogger Menu Today said...

Hi,
Your Photos are excellent. And Nice recipe too..

 
At Mon Apr 10, 07:53:00 PM 2006, Blogger Lakshmi said...

Hi SH,
really you are too good in photography. Hats off to you.
and by the way, I prepared the "fake samosas" for my lil one's birthday. Came out good SH.
Thanks yaar. just check it out in my blogspot.

 
At Mon Apr 10, 09:29:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Lera said...

simple recipe yet sounds so delicious with great looking pics & the mythology narration to boot ,hats off !

 
At Tue Apr 11, 12:08:00 AM 2006, Blogger Alexandra said...

I love the story that goes along with this dish...it makes it soun so intriguiging...I will definitely have to try it out...now I just have to figure out where to buy poha.

 
At Tue Apr 11, 09:48:00 AM 2006, Anonymous tony said...

Mme, if photography were your livelihood, you must be doing real good.. lol, or is it just a hobby... again, it doesn't imply i don't read what you write, but ur pictures just makes me go WOWW...

Please do continue the good work... we will always be there to support you.... I am saying this because there is somethin called a blogging lifecycle... one fine day we get surprised with a I will be taking a break post.... It will break my heart *smiles*

 
At Tue Apr 11, 09:49:00 AM 2006, Anonymous tony said...

may this blog live forever

 
At Tue Apr 11, 02:43:00 PM 2006, Blogger RP said...

I thought I left a comment here, but it seems to be lost in the cyberworld. I have been checking to see if you have posted something- just to read your wonderful narration and to stare at the beautiful pictures.

 
At Wed Apr 12, 10:07:00 AM 2006, Blogger Ashwini said...

SH I loved the Krishna allusion. It gave new meaning to everyday poha

 
At Thu Apr 13, 07:57:00 AM 2006, Blogger Saffron said...

Tony thanks for the words of encouragement and support!! it's good to know that folks enjoy reading and looking at my blog as much as I enjoy taking pictures and posting :)

as for the lifecycle part, I will be taking a "blogging break" from June - for 2 months :) going on vacation!!

cheers!

 
At Wed Aug 02, 07:23:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
Nice site! Great pictures and yummy food. For poha, you can also add color by adding either peas or carrots/corn. In Maharastra kanda-batata-poha is made with both onion and potatoes and is just too good!!

Archana

 
At Sat Nov 18, 06:58:00 AM 2006, Anonymous sudha said...

Saff! The success behind ur site is the introuduction story and the pics. u can make a simple rice or poha or chai also look yummy with ur photography. Hatsoff. Keep it up

 
At Thu Jan 11, 02:14:00 PM 2007, Anonymous Amit said...

Ah, what's poha without some roasted peanuts!! Nice recipe though - somewhat different than my usual one.

 
At Sat Mar 17, 11:52:00 PM 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking for information and found it at this great site... »

 
At Sun Apr 22, 05:10:00 AM 2007, Blogger The Guy Next Door said...

Tried your receipe with a few modifications - No peanuts, No Tomato , Extra Potatoes. I know its not the Marathi way , but its the way I remembered as my Mum wud have made it. Turned out great.

Thanks and I will keep coming back.

 
At Thu May 31, 10:27:00 AM 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have mentioned above that Krishna went on to become the Supreme, just wanted to bring to your notice that He was, is and will always be the Supreme one. He can't become one because He retains his supremacy at all times and under all circumstances unlike us mortal souls.

 
At Fri Aug 31, 08:59:00 AM 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your picture of poha was printed in Bangalore Times dated 31st August 2007. You can get in touch with them at food.line@indiatimes.com

 
At Thu Dec 27, 06:33:00 PM 2007, Blogger nisha said...

yummy yummy,i made poha dis morning n had wid hot tea it was really yummy n so easy to cook,i lyk the pictures u displayed.i lyk the story very very much.thanx
Nisha Aseem

 
At Tue Jun 16, 11:44:00 AM 2009, Blogger PUSHTIWEBINDIA.COM said...

Very nice recipe! informative and useful blog! keep it up.

From:
Gaurang Goradiya
Website Developer in Mumbai
http://www.pushtiwebindia.com/

 
At Wed Aug 26, 04:10:00 AM 2009, Blogger Jenni Malsingh said...

Poha was always my favourite breakfast whilst I was staying in Aurangabad, so this is bringing back lovely memories for me! I have a dish made with poha and sweet potatoes which I concoct for myself when feeling India-sick. You can see pictures on my blog if you are interested: http://mangosoup.blogspot.com/2009/08/sweet-potato-poha.html

 
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