Tag Archives: Urad Dal

Coconut & Peanut Poha



Have you ever been searching for something in your pantry or kitchen only to find a whole package of something else? And then realize that you really should use it soon before it expires/stales/etc.? That’s what happened today when I found a very large bag of thick poha. It was a pleasant surprise since my hubby and I both love poha. In case you don’ t know about this unusual ingredient, poha is also called “beaten rice” and “flattened rice”. It’s basically a dried flattened raw rice product that can be used raw or cooked. Poha is used in Indian snacks, breakfasts, lunches and light meals in both savory and sweet preparations. It can be added to some dosa batters to thicken the batter. It’s an ingredient that is easy to work with and keeps a long time. Pick up a package next time you are in an Asian or Indian market! A few years ago I posted a recipe for the thin variety of poha.

Here’s a simple recipe I made for lunch today that turned much better than I expected. I started looking in a few cookbooks for ideas, but didn’t really find anything that seemed new. My usual go-to recipe for thick poha uses onion and potato. That seemed too heavy for today. Therefore, I started out with a very basic recipe but tweaked it a bit by adding peanuts (for protein), cilantro for more flavor and lots of coconut. It turned out light, spicy and very tasty. I hope you try it too!

Coconut & Peanut Poha (Serves 4)

4 cups of thick poha
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raw peanuts (or roasted peanuts)
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chili peppers, broken
1 green chili peppers, sliced
4 tbsp water
sprig of curry leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not sweet!) coconut flakes
cilantro – about 1/2 cup chopped
lemon slices

The poha is a little tricky. It’s easy to make it too soft so be careful. You don’t want it too soft and soggy nor do you want it “al dente”: Place the poha in a large colander or strainer and place in the sink. Quickly wash the poha with water running, using your hand to fluff it and get each grain wet. Let the water drain immediately. Let sit for a few minutes. It should have softened without any additional water. Taste a bite to see if it’s soft enough for you. When it’s ready, place it in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized pan of your choice over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and raw peanuts (if using roasted peanuts, skip this step). Allow the peanuts to fry a bit until they are browned. Once done, immediately remove from the oil to a plate (leaving the oil in the pan), sprinkle with a bit of salt and allow to cool.

Now add the mustard seeds to the oil. Once popping, add the urad dal, cumin seeds, red chili peppers, green chili peppers and curry leaves. Carefully add the water and allow it to cook off. This will make the urad dal soft. When the water is evaporated, pour this seasoning over the washed poha.

Now toss in the peanuts, coconut flakes and cilantro. Add salt to taste. Stir gently but well. If the poha is a bit too wet it may stick together. If that happens, just stir as gently as possible, breaking up pieces as you do so. Can you tell that I have experience at making the poha too soft? It’s okay if it happens, it will still taste good! Serve with some yummy garlic pickle and lemon slices to squeeze over.


Breakfast Bread with Coconut

Breakfast Bread with Coconut

Good Morning! Today my Sister-In-Law and I made a breakfast dish called “Bread Usli”. It’s so easy to make and puts to good use any stale or last bit of bread that no one wants to eat! This is a common dish in India, often made for a quick breakfast or snack. There are so many varieties, but we adapted a recipe from “The Konkani Saraswat Cookbook” by Asha S. Philar. It is almost identical to the recipe given to me by my Mother-In-Law many years ago. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did…

Bread Usli

Serves 4

  • 15 slices of wheat or white (a combination of the two is best), chopped into small cubes about 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1/2″
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 2-4 red chilis
  • 5-8 curry leaves
  • 4 tbsp coconut (fresh, thawed frozen or desiccated)

Place the cubed bread in a big bowl. Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 tbsp water. Sprinkle the water (using your fingers or a spoon) over the cubed bread, mixing the bread cubes so that the water is distributed pretty evenly.

Heat the oil in a large pan (a wok works well) over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal, red chilies and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start popping, reduce the heat to low and add the bread cubes. Gently stir, stir, stir, lifting the cubes from the bottom to the top. Keep stirring until the seasoning is mixed in with the bread cubes. Allow to heat for about 2 minutes over the low flame. When it’s done, sprinkle the coconut over the top and mix in gently. The texture of the bread shouldn’t be crispy or soggy. Serve.

Bread Usli

Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas

Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas

Vadas & Cilantro Chutney

I made these Vadas a couple of weeks ago but am just now getting around to posting. Sorry for the delay- my intention is to post at least once a week! Vadas are a wonderful Indian snack food that have so many possibilities. They can be eaten with spicy chutneys, floated in Rasam, soaked in flavorful yogurt…so many delicious options!

Anyway, here is one of my latest versions of Vada. I normally use a basic recipe from “Dakshin” (one of my go-to books for South Indian recipes). I then make alterations to this recipe by experimenting with different chopped up veggies and adding in other spices. I had a bunch of beet greens and some lovely peppery watercress on hand. I was in the mood for Rasam-Vada and decided to use up my fresh produce in the Vadas. It makes me feel a tiny bit healthier eating fried food that has some extra nutrition added!

I’m not posting the Rasam recipe yet since the Rasam pictured at the end of this post is made from a powder that we buy rather than a purely homemade variety.

Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas

  • 2 cups urad dal
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chili powder / cayenne
  • 2 pinches hing/asafoetida
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup beet greens (minus the stems), finely chopped
  • 1 cup watercress, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • oil for deep-frying

Rinse the urad dal in a strainer, place in a bowl and cover with water to a few inches above the dal. Allow to soak for at least 4 hours at room temp.

Strain the dal and put in a blender (I use a Vita-Mix) or food processor. Fill with water to just below the top of the dal (you can always add more water if it’s too thick). Add cumin seeds, chili powder, hing and salt and blend to a thick paste. Add more water if it isn’t mixing well but be sure not to add too much. You may have to stop the blender and stir it around to make sure that the dal gets blended properly. It is okay to have little pieces of dal in the batter for some texture if you like.

Remove the paste to a bowl and add the chopped beet greens, watercress and cilantro. Mix well and adjust seasonings now.

Vada Batter

The batter should be very thick. I’m not sure how to efficiently describe it, but if you form a small ball it will only lose it’s shape a little bit, not flatten out entirely. Or if you try to drop it by the spoonful it falls in chunks, not a stream. If the batter isn’t thick enough, you can make it thicker by adding some rice flour a tablespoon at a time.

Heat the oil to 350F. When the oil is ready you can start frying your Vadas. This is how I do it, though there are other methods. I put my bowl of batter next to the stove. I go to the sink and quickly wet my hands and shake off the excess water. I go back to the batter bowl and grab a golf-ball sized chunk of batter and make it into a round but kind of flattened shape.

I then put my finger in the middle and make a small hole by swishing it around a bit.

I then slide the wet blob into the hot oil. Obviously, be VERY CAREFUL that you don’t get water in the oil or it will pop out at you, possibly causing burns! I then grab another ball of batter and repeat so there are now two Vadas in the oil at once. After making two Vadas I re-wet my hands and start over. Don’t overcrowd your pot or it will slow down the cooking.

Once the Vadas become brown on one side, gently flip them over and fry the other side. Expect each side to fry to approximately 3 minutes. When they are done, remove to your oil draining station.

Rasam Vada