Indori Poha is made with steamed flattened rice flakes, with a light tempering of chilies, cumin, and curry leaves, and then topped with a mix of crunchy and juicy toppings like onions, pomegranate kernel, coriander, roasted peanuts, and boondi. I use red rice poha in this recipe as it is healthier than white rice poha.
Light and fluffy, Indori poha recipe is a signature breakfast dish from Indore, the food capital of Madhya Pradesh. I fell in love with the cuisine of Madhya Pradesh two years ago when my sister used to live in Indore. Every morning we used to go for a walk and then eat a plateful of poha from the roadside vendor. Sometimes we would pack it and eat it later in the day. What was surprising for me was how that poha stayed soft and fluffy even after several hours.
The secret of the softness of Indori poha is that it is steamed on a water bath and not by sautéed in oil. That was quite a surprise for me. We’ve been eating poha for breakfast ever since we were little and we always saw it being cooked with stir-fried vegetables in oil. Much like rice pulao or paella. I was quite intrigued and we went over to a poha vendor to learn the recipe. He showed us his whole arrangement. The water boils in a pot below and poha is steemed on a large plate on top. And the water is not boiling idle, it is being used to boil potatoes for samosas. It is quite ingenious.
Healthy, easy, and quick to make, Poha is a popular breakfast recipe both at home and as a street food throughout India. Early morning and evening, vendors with their hand trolleys selling fresh poha are a common sight on roadsides along public parks or other food joints. But the poha recipe varies from State to State. It is amazing how different States in India cook the same flattened rice (uncooked poha) in different ways.
How to cook authentic steamed Indori Poha?
The authentic Indori poha is very different from poha recipes from other cuisines in a few ways:
- The poha is cooked by steaming over a water bath.
- A light tempering of green chilies, cumin, and curry leaves is added but no vegetables are sautéed in oil. As a result, the recipe uses very little oil. See the step by step photos below: Tempering is mixed with washed poha and then the poha is steamed.
- The toppings are all raw and include onions, peanuts, pomegranate kernels, coriander leaves, and lemon juice.
- Additional toppings include masala boondi (fried chickpea flour fritters) and/or sev along with a sprinkling of jeeravan powder.
- 1 cup red rice poha (flattened rice)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 green chili , chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 5-6 curry leaves , fresh or dried
- ½ tsp turmeric
- Salt , to taste
- 1 small onion , finely chopped
- 6-7 stalks fresh coriander leaves , chopped
- 10-12 roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup masala boondi
- ¼ cup pomegranate kernels
- 1 tsp jeeravan powder (see recipe description above for how to make your own jeeravan powder)
- 1 lime
Wash the red rice poha in a colander or steamer plate and keep aside.*
Put water for boiling in a pot big enough for your colander to sit on top or in your steamer vessel.
In a small pan, heat oil and temper it with cumin seeds, green chilies, and curry leaves. Add them in that order.
Add the tempering to the washed poha along with salt and turmeric. Mix lightly with a fork or using your fingers. Be careful not to break or mash the poha.
Put the colander on top of boiling water and cover on top. Steam for about 15 minutes.
Mix in half of the chopped onions, coriander leaves, and drizzle lime juice.
Serve on a plate and top with boondi, onions, jeeravan powder, coriander leaves, pomegranate seeds, and peanuts.
Serve hot with a slice of lime on the side. In Indore, poha is usually served with a side of sweet jalebis!
It is quite interesting to see how the poha recipe slowly builds up with the different toppings! 🙂
How to make Jeeravan masala at home
Jeeravan is a quintessential spice blend from Indore. Jeera is cumin in Hindi and jeeravan is like a spice blend that builds on cumin as the key ingredient. While the Jeeravan masala packs in the shops have many spices, it is easy to make a basic jeeravan spice blend at home.
To make 2 tbsps of Jeeravan, mix together:
3 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp black salt
½ tsp ginger powder (sonth)
½ tsp paprika (or Kashmiri red chili powder)
Here is my list of Indian spices in Hindi and English for reference. If you like this recipe, please take a moment to rate it and/or leave your comments at the end of the blog. It will really encourage me to keep exploring, learning and improving.
*Flattened rice absorbs water very quickly and will become soggy if you soak them. Normally just washing the poha helps to soften them. But if you have a very thick variety of flattened rice then it might require to soak them for just a couple minutes.
I still remember the first time when I was going to Indore, a friend of mine who had spent most of his childhood in Indore gave me all the tips for the different food joints in Indore. It is rightly called the food capital of Madhya Pradesh.
I recently joined a group of Indian Food Bloggers who explore a different State’s cuisine every month. The members are paired together and each gives the other two “secret” ingredients (that’s why the name Cooking Secretly!) to cook a regional dish. The rest of the members then guess the two secret ingredients until the dish is published 🙂 It is a fun game for food enthusiasts! This month’s theme is Madhya Pradesh and my partner Poonam Bachhav who blogs at Annapurna, gave me two easy ingredients — peanuts and onions. Of course, I had to make Indori Poha recipe for the group. My fondest memories of food in Indore is the morning poha. I gave her milk and chilies. We usually use milk for sweet dishes in Indian cuisine but MP cuisine has a unique dish with the two ingredients and I can’t wait to see her creation!
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