Friday, May 20, 2011

Tamarind Poha

My sister is a very good cook and has been critically appraising my cooking skills ever since she has come to visit. In the usual course of things, I am accustomed to V and Neighbor Girl boosting my ego regularly by saying things like "Everything you touch tastes wonderful"- they know that flattery will get you a hot meal every evening if nothing else.

My sister is not that easy to impress. Already I've been informed by her that my pohe, the popular Maharashtrian flattened rice breakfast dish that often sets the bar for a person's cooking skills, are sub-standard. She proceeded to diagnose the problem as stinginess with oil.

But all is not lost. I made mocha madness ice cream for Neighbor Girl's birthday bash and Kashmira absolutely loved it. She was amazed that it took about 4.5 minutes to put together. We also made eggless banana bread (my sister has an egg allergy) and she liked the idea of using flaxseed as an egg substitute.

I showed her how to make my favorite candy from David Lebovitz's recipe, and she packaged it in pretty paper to take with her on a trip to the East Coast. The candy was probably her favorite from all the goodies we made together.

We've been cooking up a storm- everything from sweet potato fries to homemade pizza (the complete experience, with fire alarms going off and all), to the ever-popular pesto pasta salad with roasted vegetables. My sister has now revised her statement to say that I am an OK cook but a better baker!

In an effort to gain some pohe skills, I had Kashmira teach me how to make a new-to-me pohe dish that is popular in several South Indian cuisines: tamarind pohe. Now it was my turn to be amazed at how quickly this tasty breakfast dish came together. I have never made a no-cook dish with thick pohe (flattened rice) but I am sure I'll be making this again and again.

Tamarind Pohe 
(hunsehannu avalakki in Kannada; serves 3-4)
  1. Grind 2 cups thick poha coarsely (not to a powder!) in a spice grinder or food processor. Rinse in water and let the poha soak. It should fluff up but not turn into a paste, so be sure to drain out the water.
  2. Soak 2 tbsp. tamarind pulp in warm water and extract the juice. Make a dilute solution of the tamarind water and add enough powdered jaggery to make a sweet-tangy mixture.
  3. Pour this mixture into the soaked poha.
  4. Heat some generous quantities of oil in a small pan and temper it with mustard seeds, asafetida, curry leaves, dried red chillies and peanuts.
  5. Pour the tempering onto the poha. 
  6. Add salt and rasam powder (I wanted to taste the gojju powder so we added that instead) to the poha, to taste. Mix well and serve.
  7. For an authentic touch, fry some sandge and crush them onto the tamarind pohe. 

Coming up next, a quick and tasty salsa recipe. Happy Friday, everyone!


  1. A very new recipe to me.Looks amazing & filling.

  2. Yeah... I know the feeling of how family gives a reality check and bursts the bubble.. I had a similar experience with my sister, though she's definitely not a better cook then me--go figure.
    Tamarind poha is new to me, I'll be trying this dish soon since I have some poha waiting to be used.
    Enjoy your weekend Nupur.

  3. So funny your stinginess with oil. My grandmother and mother would probably give the same diagnosis for my cooking!
    You really seem to be enjoying your sister's visit immensely, I'm really happy for that.

  4. Tangy tamarind pohe looks marvellous..quick and delicious dish..

  5. Lovely write up Nupur. While reading ur posts I miss not having a sister to share with. Happy to hear that you both had a wonderful time.

  6. That is so funny Nupur! You a bad cook? It is all what you compare against. Glad to know of making poha the right way (of course with generous amounts of oil) :)

    That candy looks delicious.

  7. It tastes wonderful, isn't it? A favorite of mine since child hood.
    Though the literal translation of the dish would be right since tamarind is hunisehannu and poha is avalakki in Kannada, it is usually known as gojjavalakki (as far as I know.):)

  8. I suffer from the same 'stingy with oil' problem. However, I've convinced my family to eat my way :D.

    Never knew there existed a pohe recipe with tamarind. Yum..

  9. Ha ha.. this post made me laugh. My sis is always ready with a comment about my cooking. When she visits, she is the back-seat driver :)
    Interesting to see a no-cook poha.. when we make puli-aval(pretty much the same thing), we do cook it briefly after soaking the poha in tamarind juice. Do you taste the raw tamarind?

  10. the minute i saw this I said, " kannad dadpe pohe! must make" and made it and loved it!
    Thanx to ur sister! Yaaay!

  11. Your post made my smile and wish I had a sister.
    Keep posting.


  12. My mom makes this but she doesn't grind the poha. Either way it tastes awesome for sure :)

  13. Oh interesting recipe! I took the longest time to learn how to make decent pohe...the problem, stinginess with oil :D

  14. Hi Nupur, What is the name of the candy that you have pictures of in your post? Shriya

  15. I love this dish! I always make this when I feel like having something tangy. The mocha ice cream looks awesome too.

  16. My naani makes this - and calls it also 'huli-avalakki'(the indian 'L' which looks like the infinity sign in devanagari - 'huli' with regular L means tiger!)
    I've also heard it called 'gojj-avalakki' - I'm not a big fan of tamarind, but this stuff is pretty tasty. Its almost like the instant version of the iyengar classic 'Puliyogare' (tamarind rice with vaghaar)

    I loved that toffee of yours! Even more irresistible in its pretty pink dress. I remember finishing the whole lot over the course of two days :) The kokum has traveled with me across the continent and across the seas - I am yet to use it and post a recipe. Clearly, blog events are not for people like me!!

    Glad you're having such a great time with your sis. Safe/happy travels to her.

  17. The candy looks too yummy! Can I have some? :)

    Tamarind Pohe is new to me, I'd heard of Tamarind Rice which is a popular breakfast/ tiffin item in Bangalore.

    Have fun with your sister, I am sure you girls are cooking up a storm!!!

  18. you sisters are having a blast! enjoy your time together!!

  19. I've hardly made poha in any form so I am anxious to try! Looks great as did the candy treats :)

    Now I am off to google 'sandge'...

  20. And your sis is probably sharing your embarrassing childhood stories with Neighbor Girl and V as well :) Sounds like you're having a great time!

  21. LOL about your sister :-). My sis does not cook as much as I do - so she *always* compliments me on whatever I make! Of course, there's plenty of other stuff that I get a reality check on from her! Gotta love 'em sisters!

  22. Melange- It is all carbs so it fills you up but you get hungry again an hour later!

    Pavani- LOL there are 2 sides to every story, so I'll need to ask your sister if she agrees with your statement that she's not the better cook ;)

    lacaffetierarosa- I know- I'm like, excuse me for not wanting to kill you all with fatty food!

    Priya- Thanks!

    Radhika- Thank you, yes, we are lucky that she can come visit and spend time with me.

    indosungod- LOL so often that seems to be the secret of good cooking, a generous hand with oil and butter!

    Suma- Thanks for the correct translation! And I am so glad I finally discovered this wonderful dish.

    snehal- Yes, poha with tamarind was new to me too but it is so tasty!

    Inji- No, I was amazed that there was no raw taste at all. But I do know some people like to cook the tamarind jaggery mixture briefly. So many little variations!

    Manasi- What, you made it already? That's great- glad the recipe worked for you.

    P- Thanks!

    harini-jaya- Yes, either way would work great, this grinding step was new to me too.

    Sharan- What're more, poha just soaks up oil like there's no tomorrow!

    Shriya- It is a nut buttercrunch candy, and I have put a link to the recipe.

    Preeti Kashyap- The mocha ice cream was terrific, so glad I found that recipe.

    Sacredfig- I've made tamarind rice dozens of times but this poha was something new. My sister loved the toffee too!

    Ashwini- The candy is really the best- next time I make a batch I will send you some :)

    arundati- Yes, we certainly are!

    Linda- Hello :) Sandge are fried crispy snacks, very delicious as a side to rice and poha dishes.

    bek- I'll have to warn her against doing anything of the sort :D Yes, we are having fun!

    Archana- Yup, gotta love them even if they do drive you nuts every so often!

  23. I made it the minute I read it ( which was soon after u posted it) in fact even treated my friends to it in the evening over a cup of tea a few days later.:)

  24. The one thing I learned from an Italian husband and Italian cooking - don't spare the oil in tomato sauce and a bit of pork or lard smooths it right out into lala land.

  25. As others have already pointed out - it is called Gojj-avalakki in Kannada... and one small change you could try is - add the chilli powder and salt to the tamarind juice+jaggery mix and heat it up slightly so that all of them blend together. You can then add this to the poha and mix it up. Also instead of adding the tempering to the poha, you can add the poha to the kadai with the tempering and it all comes out really well together :) Just my two cents.
    Btw, you girls seem to have had a great time together!Sisters are such fun na? :D


Thanks for leaving a comment- I try to respond to every single one.