Poha Breakfast (Rice Flakes with Lemon & Spices)

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Poha refers to flattened rice flakes cooked with lemon and spices into a simple and tasty breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. It’s that versatile! 

In India, most people enjoy poha for breakfast, and that’s how I like it too. 

I make this about once a week these days, whenever I am craving a savory and energizing breakfast that’s easy to digest. 

poha with lemon and spices

Poha is easy to digest because rice is easy to digest, particularly one that is already partially cooked and processed into flakes. 

The spices, ghee, and lemon add digestive support and warmth to the dish as well, making it highly satisfying. 

The coconut flakes and cilantro topping is optional, but glorious. If you don’t make the topping, you can add a bit of minced cilantro just before serving.  

You can buy poha with thick flakes HERE.

poha rice flakes

Recipe for Poha Breakfast

Flattened rice flakes cooked with lemon and spices into a simple, yet tasty breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. It’s that versatile! 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Andrea Hayley-Sankaran

Ingredients

  • 2 cups poha (thick flakes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flakes unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ghee  (portion 1/2 teaspoon and 1 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • pinch asafetida (hing) optional
  • 1-2 green chilis (1/2 teaspoon) minced
  • 2 tablespoons onion or shallot minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (or other veg)
  • 1 tablespoons lemon freshly squeezed

Instructions

  • Remove frozen peas from the freezer and place in a bowl on the counter to defrost. Rinse with cold water if you want to speed up the process. Drain the peas before cooking. 
  • Place poha flakes in a bowl and cover with cold water. Use your fingers to mix thoroughly and then strain through a sieve. Repeat 3 times and drain all the water. Let rest 5 minutes to absorb the water, then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric powder and salt over the poha and mix well.
  • Mince the green chilis and onion and set aside until needed. Chop fresh cilantro. 

Make the coconut and cilantro topping

  • Start half a teaspoon of ghee in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the coconut flakes and stir continuously until just starting to brown. Add the cilantro and continue to cook, stirring continuously until well cooked and mostly dried. Transfer into a dish and set aside.
  • Rinse the saucepan clean and return it to the stove on medium heat. Add the remaining ghee, along with the black mustard seeds. Heat until the mustard seeds start to pop, and around half the seeds pop. Add the asafetida and then immediately add the green chilis and onion. Turn the heat down to low and stir frequently, cooking until the onions are just starting to brown. 
  • Add the frozen peas along with a pinch of salt. Stir and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, checking at least once to ensure it doesn’t run out of moisture. Add a bit of water if it’s too dry.
  • Add the prepared poha flakes along with a couple tablespoons of water. Stir well. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Open the lid and test the poha for moisture. Does it stick together, or is it too dry? If it’s dry, add a bit more water.
  • Add fresh lemon juice, stir, and taste for salt. Add more salt or lemon to taste if desired. Turn off the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes to release any poha that stuck to the bottom of the pot. 
  • Serve poha in a bowl and top with coconut and cilantro. If you have an Indian pickle or mango chutney, have a teaspoon of it with the poha. Enjoy! 

Notes

Poha flakes come in different thicknesses. For this recipe, choose thick flakes or medium flakes at a minimum. Buy poha HERE
You can substitute peanuts for the coconut flakes. During the same step, sauté until lightly browned, just as it says to do for the coconut.
You can easily leave out the coconut. In that case stir in fresh cilantro just before serving. You may want to reduce the amount of cilantro if you decide to do it this way, since the cilantro won’t be cooked, and it will have a stronger taste.
You can substitute carrots and peas or green beans instead of the green peas. It is also typical to add pieces of cooked potato. You can include any vegetable in poha, as long as it’s fully cooked with the onion and spices before you add the poha flakes.

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