Wednesday, December 17, 2014

101 gluten free breakfasts : poha (flattened rice) is for everyone | 4 recipes of a probiotic breakfast

Gluten free breakfasts are easier than the sound of it. There are many ingredients that would surprise you about the variety you can afford to have once you ditch that toast or paratha for breakfast.

I have written about how poha (beaten or flattened rice) is a probiotic and prebiotic food, a good quality ready to eat cereal that can be used in so many different ways that no packaged cereal can beat this. Poha can make sweet breakfasts with yogurt and fruit, smoothies with poha and it makes the popular savoury breakfast called pohe with a prefix of onion, potato or peas whatever you add to it. Kande pohe, batata poha and dadpe pohe all are different ways to relish this native cereal produced and used all over India in some form or the other. My experiments have resulted in some yummy concoctions like poha with mango and coconut. But there are a few versions I am yet to share. Bringing some of them in this post, hopefully you would also like them as much as I do.

1. recipe of pohe with paneer matar (preparation time 15 minutes)

(2 large servings)
dry poha 1 cup
fresh green peas 3/4 cup
paneer 50-60 gm (crumbled or cut in small cubes)
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
chopped green chillies 1 tsp or to taste
minced ginger 1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
chopped coriander greens to garnish
lime juice to finish, as per taste
ghee 2 tsp


Rinse the poha under tap water keeping it in a sieve. Keep aside.

Heat the ghee in a wide pan and tip in the cumin seeds. Let the cumin crackle and add the green chillies and ginger, followed by green peas and salt. Mix and cook covered for 5 minutes or till cooked.

Now add the crumbled paneer and stir fry for a few seconds or till the paneer heats up and soaks in the flavours.

Add the drained poha, lime juice and pepper powder, mix well and cook covered on very low flame for 2-3 minutes or till the poha warms up thoroughly.

Sprinkle chopped coriander greens and serve hot.

We like having ginger tea with this kind of breakfast.

2. recipe of kande pohe (preparation time 15-20 minutes)

(2 large servings)

dry poha 3/4 or 1 cup
diced red onions 1 cup
finely chopped potatoes (preferably with skin) 1/2 cup
chopped green chillies 1 tsp
chopped curry leaves 1 tbsp
cumin seeds, fennel (saunf) and mustard seeds 1/2 tsp each
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
fresh grated coconut 2 tbsp
roasted peanuts 2 tbsp
chopped coriander leaves 1 tbsp
lime juice as required
ghee or peanut oil 1 tbsp


Rinse the poha under running water, keeping them in a deep sieve. Keep aside to drain.

Heat the ghee in a wide thick base pan and tip in the cumin, fennel and mustard seeds. Wait till they all crackle and then add the chopped onions, curry leaves and potatoes. Add salt, turmeric powder, green chillies and stir fry on medium flame till done. You can cover the pan to quicken the cooking process. It takes about 5 minutes for this quantity.

Now add the soaked poha, chopped coriander greens and pepper powder mix well and cover and cook for 3-4 minutes on very low flame. Take the pan off the flame and add the lime juice to taste, adjust seasoning and serve in bowls. Sprinkle grated coconut and roasted peanuts on top and serve immediately.

3. recipe of dadpe pohe (preparation time 10 minutes, resting time 30 minutes)

This dadpe pohe recipe is a Maharashtra special (most poha recipes originated there btw) and doesn't involve cooking and is preferably made with tender coconut water as well as tender coconut meat. But one can make it using regular coconut milk and fresh grated coconut too. Being uncooked poha this recipe provides the best probiotic benefit. This recipe uses freshly grated coconut and packaged coconut milk. If using tender coconut water one can skip rinsing the poha and soak them in the coconut water itself for better flavours.

(2 large servings)

dry poha 1 cup
coconut milk 100 ml (half a carton pack)
chopped green chillies 1 tsp
chopped red onions 3/4 cup
minced ginger 1 tsp (optional)
chopped green coriander leaves 1/4 cup
lime juice 1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated coconut 2 tbsp or a bit more
roasted peanuts 2 tbsp (optional)


Rinse the poha under running water and drain completely. The poha looks like this after rinsing and letting them soak for 5 minutes.

Now add the other ingredients except peanuts, mix well in a bowl and press with a small plate to cover the poha mix and keep a heavy bowl over this. Pressing the poha is done to allow the poha to soak all the flavours. I find 30 minutes of pressing enough to soak up the flavours but it depends on the type of poha being used. Normally when one cooks poha the heating makes the flavours seep in easily. For this raw preparation this pressing method is very important.

Serve cold (at room temperature) topped with a little more grated coconut or peanuts. The husband loves roasted peanuts but I skip adding them if it is a flavourful dadpe pohe.

This dadpe pohe might not be the best poha recipe for winter months but in summers this recipe is such a refreshing breakfast that we like to make it quite often. No cook recipe get repeated for other reasons too. Convenience doesn't mean eating instant noodles.

4. recipe of microwave poha (preparation time 5 minutes)

This is another instant recipe that involves just mixing the ingredients and microwaving all of them together for 2-3 minutes per serving. This poha recipe gives instant noodles a run for their money.

(2 large servings)

dry poha 1 cup
chopped red onions 1 cup
chopped green coriander leaves 1/2 cup
chopped green chillies 1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
lime juice to taste (optional, I hardly add lime juice to this recipe)
fresh grated (or desiccated) coconut 1-2 tbsp
roasted peanuts 1-2 tbsp (optional)
ghee (do not replace with any oil) 2 tsp


Rinse the poha just like the above recipes.

Mix all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave (covered with a loose lid) for 2 minutes. Stir well and microwave again for 2 minutes or till a cooked aroma of coriander greens and fresh poha with a whiff of ghee is noticeable.

Serve hot and see how you like it so much better than any instant noodles.

I add the dry garlic chutney to this poha sometimes to add more flavours but the south Indian gunpowder also works great. Sprinkle it after serving it on your plate and see how you can make it even more hot and tangy.

And here is a microwave cooked poha topped with fried cashews.

This poha is made using the red poha we sometimes get in north east states of India or even in Maharashtra. Thanks to our travels and the tendency to shop for such ingredients, we end up tasting a lot of things that we don't get where we live.

Now with so many ideas with breakfast poha, gluten free breakfast will not be boring at all. I do eat wheat but minimal use of gluten is what I aim for as I feel lighter whenever I eat gluten free food. Thank God there are so many options of gluten free foods to choose from in Indian cuisine.

I am posting these recipes of gluten free breakfast for all those people who are dependent on breads and parathas for breakfast and complaint that this kind f breakfast is filling and satisfying but it makes them slugging after an hour. Try having a plateful of poha and see how it makes you feel different.

PS : these recipes make 2 really large servings. We generally have a large breakfast when we plan a salad meal for lunch but all these poha recipe can be really light if one serves them in smaller portions that suits well for a tea time snack.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

'eclairs dairies' with Chef Johnny Iuzzini and Le Meridien

Last week was a whirlwind of sorts in many ways. Some new experiences, some discoveries and a few lessons in finding and developing flavours for recipes and products. Sometimes it helps when you see the same old world with the eyes of someone else. Great learning.

The week started with a food trail of Delhi with celebrity Chef Johnny Iuzzini that covered places like Azadpur subzi mandi (the wholesale fresh produce market), Chandni Chowk (old Delhi market), Khari Baoli (the spice market) and street food around the area. These are the parts of old Delhi that feel quite overwhelming for a first timer, the chaos on the streets, the heady aroma of spices and people dressed in all possible hues.

This tour with Chef Johnny Iuzzini was a part of the #Eclairsdairies that the chef is doing to create new flavours of eclairs inspired by local ingredients from all over the world as part of Le Meridien Hotel's program called 'unlock the destination'. The hotel has created concepts like signature breakfast and eclairs flavoured with local ingredients and spices etc in all their Indian properties. I feel a touch of local flavours brings much value to any hotel or restaurant chain that is doing business all over the world. A traveler always looks forward to an experience that brings forth the true character of a place being explored.

It was so good to see the chef being enthusiastic about tasting everything that he could see being cooked in makeshift stalls. He had bread pakodas being fried by a teenage boy, tossed some jhalmuri by himself and tasted it immediately. Just as I was thinking it must be a sensory overload for him he also tasted roti subzi being hand rolled and cooked by a similar vendor who feeds hundreds of vegetable vendors everyday. He even shot a video of the rotis being rolled and puffed up on direct flame and posted on his instagram profile. Oh he kept clicking pictures of everything he ate and kept instagramming all this while. What fun it was to get ginger tea made by a pink clad woman tea stall owner in ginger market of Azadpur mandi and then the tea being served by the chef himself. All this surrounded with huge sackfuls of aromatic ginger piled up high on all sides. He tasted the fan (plain puff pastry), the mathhi and jeera ajwain cookies that those vendors keep in their jars as accompaniments for tea. I just couldn't believe how open he was to taste just everything he came by.

There is a popular Delhi street snack called 'ram laddu' made of mung beans batter which is soaked in green chutney and served along with some grated radish and chaat masala etc. Chef tasted that and found it just a little hot although the ram laddu accompanied huge green chilly fritters (pakodas) too. Flavours that make you forget about the surroundings.

This ram laddu stall is a good example of how nifty such vendors are. See how an iron pan full of these fritters is perched over a live charcoal angeethi and there are jars of chutney and spice powders arranged on a huge circular tray that is again perched over a bamboo khomcha. Serving hot ram laddu with all the yummy accompaniments in a crowded market so efficiently. Jhalmuri khomchas are evn more minimalist, doling out the yummiest snack a few pennies can buy.

Next day was spent tea tasting at Mittal Tea Store, food tasting at a food truck called Kobri by four young business partners and some more food talks and food tasting at Hauz Khas Village where chef Iuzzini met some young chefs from Delhi and exchanged notes about spices and their uses. After that the troupe moved on to Agra for a day to shoot the Chef on his motorbike and taste some more food on the way. The days passed in a blink and all this while I had to type numerous meal plans for my clients as I do in my normal routine. With the day shorter in winters it is so difficult to keep pace with the commitments but meeting such energetic people fills you up with a new burst of energy for sure.

I have little interest in the new eclairs flavours to be honest, my intention is more into tapping the possibilities of creating new flavours for food in general. When one works on a flavour bouquet in a recipe it is always a good idea to reinforce the flavours of the star ingredient of the dish. That can be achieved either by building up a more complex flavour from the same family of aromas and taste or by adding a hint of the opposite to enhance the character and depth into a dish. For instance we like the extremely sweet caramel with a hint of salt and many curries include some sweet element or sugar added to enhance the deep flavours of spices and chillies etc. 

Even Chef Iuzzini talked about reinforcing the flavours when he demonstrated a sweetcorn paste filling of eclairs that had hints of honey and was garnished with toasted almond flakes, bee pollen and fresh pieces of beehive. Now that was something very interesting to begin with. But it is a fact that all recipe and product developers work several times on the same recipe to achieve something that works and associates with the taste buds of people.

I was very pleased to hear Chef Iuzzini say that if a pastry or a dessert tastes more like sugar or is too sweet for the other flavours to shine, the pastry chef is a failure. The desserts should be flavourful to begin with, sugar just enhances the natural flavours of a dessert. I have always believed in very mildly sweet desserts, the main ingredients of a dessert is not sugar as I always say.

I know my regular readers are nodding in affirmation. Desserts should always pack natural flavours and not sugar as I have always written here. It is great to see a celebrity pastry chef say something I believe in.

I am waiting for the flavours Johnny picked up from India to infuse into his new eclairs for Le Meridien hotel. Since he took the spice route in Delhi, I am guessing it would be something like ginger-cloves-nutmeg kind of garam masala flavour or a fiery red chilly paired with bitter orange marmalade. I wouldn't mind a few of those eclairs even though I was never interested in eclairs per se. :-)