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Kanda Batata Poha – Quick Vegan Breakfast

Kanda Batata Poha in a white and gold bowl with Lemon and Chai on a blue background

Poha is one of the most popular Indian breakfasts – because it’s quick, easy, and incredibly tasty. Kanda Batata Poha is the most famous of all the varieties, originating in Maharashtra (Central West India). It’s so adored and ingrained into Marathi culture that there is even a Bollywood song named after it! In Marathi ‘kanda’ means onion; ‘batata’ means potato, and ‘pohe’ means beaten rice.

In essence, Kanda Batata Poha is light and summery, peppered with the fragrance of curry leaves, the crunch of peanuts and the pop of mustard seeds. Furthermore, it has a fresh spiciness from green chillis, a beautiful sunshine colour from turmeric, just a dash of sweetness from sugar and coconut, and a finishing note of citrus from freshly chopped coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.

In India, Nik used to eat this every Sunday morning for breakfast. We continue this tradition and look forward to Pohe all week!

Is Kanda Batata Poha Vegan and Gluten Free?

Yes! This recipe is in-fact Vegetarian, Vegan, Diary Free, Gluten Free, and Soy Free!

The only thing to be aware of is that Kanda Batata Poha contains peanuts, so it’s not suitable for those with nut allergies. If you have a nut allergy or simply aren’t a fan of peanuts, why not try using spicy roasted green peas? They will give a gorgeous crunch.

What is Poha?

Poha (Called Pohe in Marathi) is flattened rice, otherwise known as beaten rice. Rice grains are parboiled and then literally ‘beaten’ to become flat. Although white rice varieties are most commonly used, Red Poha is also accessible. Poha is available in various different thicknesses, each of which have their own uses within Indian cuisine.

Because the rice used is already parboiled and then flattened, Poha is incredibly fast to cook. It usually only needs a very brief hydration (anything from a quick wash to a minute of soaking) and then just a speedy stir-fry before it’s ready to eat. By virtue of the swift preparation, it’s incredibly popular all across India as a quick snack – whether that be in the form of chivda (a fried ‘mixture’), desserts, or the kanda batata poha which I’m sharing with you today.

The Marathi dish Poha/Pohe that we are making today is named after the main ingredient!

Should Thin, Medium or Thick Poha be used in Kanda Batata Poha?

Both medium and thick poha are suitable for this recipe. Thin poha is not suitable and cannot be used.

I prefer the Medium variety as it gives a beautiful texture and takes hardly any time to prepare. When buying Poha the thickness will always be specified on the packet.

Tips for fluffy, non-sticky Kanda Batata Poha

  • Use the correct variety of poha. As mentioned previously, thin poha is absolutely not suitable for this recipe. If you use thin poha it will quickly fall apart and become unusable. Conversely, Medium or Thick Poha will give you the perfect texture.
  • Rinse the poha and don’t oversoak. This is the most important step.
    I have found that instead of soaking, rinsing the poha in a sieve is the best way to get fluffy soft grains. This way there is no chance of oversoaking which will result in a sticky, mushy poha. Simply add the poha to a large sieve and run warm water over it. Gently move the poha around with your hands (clean obviously!) or a spoon. Repeat this 2-3 times or until the poha feels soft and slightly plump to the touch.
  • Don’t overcook the poha. I am not a fan of steaming my poha. If it is rinsed properly, all that’s needed is a quick fry to mix everything together well and infuse the flavours. Therefore there is no need to cook it for anymore time.

In conclusion, if you follow all of these tips I’m sure you’ll end up with an incredibly light, soft and fluffy poha.

Quick Variations you can make for this Poha recipe:

  • Kanda Poha. This is made in just the same fashion as the recipe below. Simply leave out the potatoes. This results in an even quicker breakfast meal!
  • Veg Poha. We don’t eat this often but it’s a great way to get more veggies into your diet. Simply add very finely chopped vegetables to the pan along with the peanuts, onions and spices, and fry for slightly longer. You can use green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, sweetcorn and cauliflower here!
  • Matar Poha. Just add a few green peas to the dish and you have a Matar Poha. You can use frozen or fresh successfully.

This Recipe Is …

  • Quick, done in under 15 mins
  • Easy and budget friendly
  • Light & perfect for Breakfast, Midday Lunch or a Snack
  • Healthy and tasty
  • Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Soy Free and Diary Free
  • An authentic Maharashtrian recipe

If you’re interested in more Vegan Indian Recipes, try:

Kanda Batata Poha in a white and gold bowl with Lemon and Chai on a blue background

Kanda Batata Poha - Quick Maharashtrian Breakfast

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

A quick and light breakfast made from beaten rice, peanuts, onions, potatoes and subtle spices.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Fry the potato. Heat oil in a kadai over low-medium heat and once hot add the chopped potato. Fry gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown from the outside and nicely cooked. Once done carefully remove from the oil and set aside until needed.
  2. Rinse the poha. While the potato is cooking, wash the poha. Place it into a sieve and run warm water over the sieve. Gently move the poha around with a spoon or your hand. Repeat this once more until the poha is soft - do no over rinse. Once done, set the sieve aside so all the access water drains, and gently 'fluff' the poha to separate the grains.
  3. Cook the poha. Immediately after frying the potatoes, use the excess oil in the pan to begin cooking the poha. Turn the heat to medium and directly add the black mustard seeds. They should splutter and pop straight away.
  4. Next add the green chillis, fresh curry leaves, and peanuts. Cook for around 30 seconds, then add the onions. Stir occasionally and cook until the peanuts are crunchy and the onions are just soft. Finally add the turmeric powder and quickly stir, being sure to not let the spice 'catch' and burn.
  5. Immediately add the rinsed poha to the kadai along with salt, sugar, desiccated coconut and the cooked potatoes. Mix everything very thoroughly so that the turmeric powder coats the poha and turns it a beautiful yellow, and all the flavours are integrated perfectly.
  6. Finally stir through some finely chopped coriander and serve hot with lemon, finely chopped onion, and sev.

Notes

* If you can't access fresh curry leaves, simply leave them out of the recipe.

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How to serve Kanda Batata Poha?

We serve Kanda Batata Poha as either breakfast, a snack, or midday lunch. It’s best served hot and garnished with finely chopped raw onion, sev (crispy fried chickpea flour ‘noodles’), and an obligatory squeeze of lemon juice! A hot glass of chai/chaha (tea) with Poha is also extremely popular.

Poha stores well and tastes good when eaten warm or cold, too. For instance, I often make this dish and pack it to eat as a picnic, take it as a travelling lunch, or in my partners tiffin (lunchbox). It’s quick and easy to make and tastes amazing even when cold.

In Nagpur, Poha is served in a special way with a spicy, runny Black Chickpea Curry. The dish is called Tari Poha and is a must-try street food if visiting Nagpur. If there is interest, I would be happy to upload a recipe of how you can recreate this at home!

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