Thursday, December 12, 2013

Batata Poha (Beaten rice with potatoes)

This recipe is in memory of my sister-in-law.

My older brother got married when he was very young – around 22 – 23.  I was about 12 – 13 when my sister-in-law came to live with us.  Having lived in a male dominated household, it was great to have another female in the house! 

As a new bride, she would make a few “modern” or different dishes for us.  My mom would do most of the daily cooking, but occasionally, when we were in the mood for something different, my sister-in-law would take over the kitchen.

Batata Poha

One of the dished she made for us was called “padada puv-ha”.  This was what she called it.  It was made with aval – or poha (beaten rice), and potatoes.  I always thought of it as a fancy aval upma. 

Only after I got married, came to the U.S., and made a few Marati friends, did I realize that my sister-in-law had actually been making Batata Poha.  I think she probably got the recipe from a Tamil magazine.  In Tamil, we use the same alphabet to represent the “pa” sound and the “ba” sound.  Similarly we have one alphabet for the “ta” and “da” sounds.  So batata poha ended up becoming padada puv-ha.

She passed away a long time ago – a couple of months after my nephew was born.  He is now 29 years old and has a family of his own.  But every time I make poha at home, I remember her and the awe with which I used to watch her whip up this “gourmet” dish.

Here is what you need:

(To serve two people)

  • 1 cup poha (beaten rice)
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • few roasted peanuts (I used about ¼ cup)
  • few curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp. sugar (optional)
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • cilantro for garnish
  • juice of ½ medium sized lime or lemon
  • little bit of grated coconut


Here is how I made it:

  1. Wash and soak the poha (beaten rice) with enough water for about 5 – 6 minutes.  Drain the water ands et this aside.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai or pan.  Add mustard seeds and jeera.
  3. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the peanuts, curry leaves and green chilies.  Fry for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add chopped onions and mix well.  Sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, till the onion turns translucent.
  5. Add salt, sugar, and turmeric powder.  Stir.
  6. Now add the diced potatoes.  Cover and cook on low heat till the potatoes are cooked.  You can also use boiled, peeled and diced potatoes here, instead of raw potatoes.
  7. Add the poha and mix well.  Let it cook for a few more minutes, so that the poha absorbs all the flavors.  Turn off the heat.
  8. Garnish with cilantro, lime juice and coconut.

Enjoy with namkeen and pickles.

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