Meera Sodha tells us that real Indian home cooking is wholly different than what’s often served in many of the curry houses across the UK. Born and raised in Lincolnshire, she grew up on her mother’s steady Gujarati diet of dishes cooked with love, instinct, fresh produce and local meats procured from their neighborhood markets.
Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen is a collection of Meera’s family heirlooms in the form of recipes passed down through generations, from one woman to another. Some of the dishes in her book are ancient family recipes; many have been shared by her mother; and others are recipes shaped by her own experiences and travels through India.
Meera tells us that she first had this poha for breakfast on a rooftop in Udaipur, Rajasthan, after a weary, overnight train ride across the desert from Jaipur. Afterwards, she asked Chef Suresh to teach her the recipe and was surprised to learn just how easy this Pomegranate and Fennel Seed Poha was to prepare.
Poha is a cook’s secret weapon. It’s essentially rice that has been beaten and flattened, which reduces its cooking time to just five minutes. You only need to rinse it in cold water before using it into your dish. Both poha and sev (fried chickpea noodles) can be found online or in an Indian grocer’s shop.
This particular dish makes an excellent brunch or lunch.
Pomegranate & Fennel Seed Poha (Daram anna Valiary Pawa)
7 oz thick poha
1 large red onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp canola oil
½ tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
A handful of garden peas (frozen are fine)
Juice of 1 lemon
½ pomegranate, seeds removed and set aside
⅓ cup sev (fried chickpea noodles) or Bombay mix
A bunch of cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on medium heat and add the fennel and mustard seeds once hot. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onion and fry for about 12 minutes, until lightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, gently rinse the poha in a sieve under cold water for a few minutes, until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
Once the onion has caramelized, add the turmeric, salt and peas. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes, then add the drained poha and cover pan with lid. Allow to cook for 5 minutes longer. Then remove the lid and check to see that the poha has cooked thoroughly (it should be soft but still have some bite, like al dente pasta). Remove from heat.
To finish, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the poha. Transfer to a plate and garnish with the pomegranate seeds, sev and chopped cilantro.