Kande pohe is a quintessential Maharashtrian tea-time snack in the arsenal of any Marathi home cook. So why did it take me to the fifth year of this blog to post a version of this - well, it's only recently that I got it really right. The perfect pohe need to be flaky, moist & light but without becoming slightest mushy or lumpy. I am usually not that particular about the texture of a dish, but pohe is one where I think texture matters a lot due to the simple minimalist preparation and lack of spices texture carries a lot of weight.
Perfect pohe with a cup of Chai can delight a morning or an afternoon and can make an ordinary gathering between friends or a visit from family that much more extra-ordinary!
A fun anecdote: From where I come from in India, a kid is taught to call every married woman approximately mother's age "aunty" and every man approximately father's age "uncle". So there are many uncles and auntys everywhere. I recently caught myself teaching my daughter to call a lady I know "aunty" and burst out laughing - in US obviously aunt is only ever a real aunt :) That reminded me of another analogy: just as aunty used to generalize any mom's age woman, same way pohe generalized any afternoon snack when you invite someone home.
It was common in childhood to be invited for chaha-pohe (tea & pohe) to neighbors place or to distant relatives. You always invited people for chaha-pohe; you may serve them a different snack but you would still invite for chaha-pohe - that was how popular pohe was as a traditional Marathi afternoon snack. Home cook would make a large pot of these pohe, they were always meant to be shared by 6-7 sometimes upto 10 guests easily. And that was the appeal of pohe. It brought along the social element in quite the affordable manner - a very tasty quick to put together snack, has a perfect harmony with tea and is made of cheap rice flakes and minimal pantry ingredients.
This is my version of pohe. This recipe has turned out really well for me as many times I made it. Guests always delight in relishing an old favorite, always go for doubles and triple servings. Of-course don't forget to simmer a pot of tea before you start cooking these!
4C thick pohe (rice flakes) - ensure you get the thick version.
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1/2tsp mustard seeds
3Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
salt to taste
2 green chili - chopped1/2 red or yellow onion - finely chopped
1 small potato (or half of a large russet potato) - small cubes3 curry leaves
handful of chopped coriander leaves
grated fresh or dried coconut flakes
Add 4C pohe to a large colander. Sprinkle handful of water over the pohe and mix thoroughly. Keep adding water slowly and mixing until all pohe grains are thoroughly moist. Don't run pohe under water as that may make them mushy and lumpy. Add 1/4tsp turmeric powder, sugar and salt to taste, mix well. Cover and set aside.
Heat oil in a large pan. When hot, add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop.
Once mustard seeds pop, add chilis and then onions and cook on medium heat until onions start to brown (stirring in between). It is important you don't rush through this onion browning step - this taste of slowly browned onion is what gives this dish the name "kande"-pohe (kande is onion in Marathi). Then add curry leaves and stir a bit.
Add cubed potatoes and mix well. Let potatoes cook for a couple of minutes (they will cook more later with pohe). Add turmeric powder and mix well.
Lower the heat to low-medium. Add pohe. Sprinkle some more water in the pan and mix well. Continue mixing and sprinkle a little more water if pohe seems dry. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add juice of a lime, mix and serve.
Provide chopped coriander leaves, grated coconut and more lime wedges as condiments.