Poha for Breakfast

From Mustard Madness


Photo by Judy Doherty


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  • Author: Aaron Murdock of Lhasa Karnak Herb Company
  • Yield: Serves 4


Thanks to a ready supply of fresh spices from his family’s herb shop in Berkeley, California, and the influence of his mother-in-law, Bonnie Mukherji, Aaron Murdock cooks mostly South Asian–style food at home. He starts many dishes by popping mustard seeds in a skillet.

Poha is a popular breakfast food throughout South and Southeast Asia because it’s quick to cook. Rice growers make this flattened or pounded rice by parboiling the grains and then roasting and flattening them with rollers.

Murdock gets his poha from Vik’s, an Indian grocer in Berkeley, where you can get various popular poha garnishes like sev (crunchy dried chickpea noodles), curry leaves, and grated coconut. “You can add slivered almonds or golden raisins,” says Murdock. “One of my sons adds lots of Maggi Hot and Sweet Sauce to it.”


Units Scale
  • 4 medium yellow potatoes
  • 3 cups thick poha
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 serrano peppers (or to taste), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hing (asafetida)
  • 3 cups frozen peas or peas/carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed powder (Grind your own if you can.)
  • Big pinch salt
  • 1 big handful chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (or a little less if you use lime)


Boil the potatoes in water until barely fork tender, then dice and set aside.

Rinse poha rice and soak in water for a few minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop. (Have a lid ready to slap on if the seeds start popping out of the pan.) Throw in onion, serranos, and hing, and cook until onion is golden. Add peas and cooked potato and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Stir in turmeric, coriander, salt. Add poha and stir. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes, with the occasional stir. Remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice and serve.

Adapted from The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra

  • Category: Breakfast