Photo: Ajna Jai / Contributor
Across India, from slums to construction sites all the way up to fancy homes, a flattened rice dish by the simple name of “poha” is a wildly popular breakfast and snack staple. Different varieties of rice are parboiled, rolled and flattened to produce flakes. These bland flakes can absorb moisture and imbibe a variety of flavors, like turmeric, ginger, mustard seeds — within minutes transforming into a simple one-pot meal.
Originally from Maharashtra, a state in the western and central peninsula region of India, poha is now enjoyed across the country in different iterations. In southern India, it is often prepared with cashews and coconut. In Gujarat, the state I was born and raised in, poha is usually cooked with onions, ginger, peanuts and fresh herbs. A bowl of steaming fragrant poha with leftover vegetables made for many a memorable breakfast during my childhood. Even though poha is made from rice, somehow it has a lighter texture but deeper flavor than cooked rice. I always keep a jar of poha tucked away in my pantry to turn into a quick, delicious meal.