Batata poha

Batata poha

Flattened rice with potatoes

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

Flattened rice, or poha, is very popular across the subcontinent and it is prepared and cooked in many different ways. Each community has its own style, whether they turn it into sweets, desserts, savoury dishes, snacks or midday quick meals.

This recipe is perfect for a welcoming, light midday snack, if someone turns up at the doorstep unannounced or as a teatime accompaniment. The Maharashtrians call it batata poha, the Gujerati call it bataka aney poha bhaat, and in South India in Tamil Nadu it’s often called aval uppuma. The Gujerati version may have a bit more sugar and lime juice in it, and perhaps peanuts; the South Indians no doubt have their mustard seeds but also urad or white lentil and/or channa daal (or yellow split peas); however one thing is for certain, this snack is one of my favourites and I can assure you that it is most enjoyable.


Quantity Ingredient
250g poha
2-3 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
a generous pinch asafoetida
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 white onions, finely chopped
3-5 green chillies, finely chopped
10-12 curry leaves, shredded
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt, to taste
200g potatoes, peeled and diced
150-200g green peas, (optional)
1 small lime, juiced
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 whole coconut, grated
or 250g coconut, frozen grated
or 2-3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, soaked in water than drained
chilli powder, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped


  1. Wash the poha or flattened rice well, squeeze out the excess water and drain in a colander.
  2. Heat the oil in a kadhai, a shallow but largish lidded frying pan, or casserole dish with a lid.
  3. When the oil forms a haze add the mustard, reduce the heat to medium and place the lid on top for just a few seconds until the crackling dies down.
  4. Add the cumin seeds and as soon as they change colour add the asafoetida.
  5. Add the garlic, ginger, chopped onion, green chilli, shredded curry leaves and continue sautéing until the onions turn soft.
  6. Add the turmeric, salt (to taste) and the potatoes. Cover tightly, reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are cooked. Do not add any water, just allow the potatoes to cook in their own steam. They will cook well provided you do not keep the heat high.
  7. Once potatoes are cooked add the green peas (if you like). If you are using fresh peas, cook them with the potato, if using frozen, add them once the potato is cooked.
  8. Sprinkle the poha over the potatoes, add the lime juice, sugar, coconut and the chilli powder and cook until the poha turns soft.
  9. Serve hot - immediately if possible - with half the coriander blended in and half sprinkled on top.


  • The Maharashtrians also add fried or roasted unsalted peanuts to their Poha. To make it in the South Indian style (aval uppuma) add one teaspoon each of urad daal and channa daal after the mustard seeds have cracked and then continue with the rest of the method. Leave out the sugar, lime juice and peanuts. However, fried broken cashew nuts are more than welcome.
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