A Recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Vegetarian India”

flattened rice and peasWebsite

No one knows Indian food like Madhur Jaffrey. For more than forty years, the “godmother of Indian cooking” (The Independent on Sunday) has introduced Western home cooks to the vibrant cuisines of her homeland. Now, in Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking, the seven-time James Beard Award–winning author shares the delectable, healthful, vegetable-and grain-based foods enjoyed around the Indian subcontinent.

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Flattened Rice with Cauliflower and Peas

Phool Gobi Aur Matar Wala Poha

A grand dish that looks splendid and tastes as good as it looks. Sometimes I eat this all by itself. Other dishes, such as Mixed Dal, Marwari Style could be added to the meal, as well as a raita, popadams, and chutneys. It is also perfect for brunch.

In India most people like their poha upmas to be fairly spicy, but you can use as many or as few green chilies as you like.

Serves 4

3 cups thick poha (flattened rice)

3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil

Generous pinch of ground asafetida

3/4 teaspoon urad dal

1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

10–15 fresh curry leaves, lightly crushed in your hand

1 medium onion (about 4 oz), peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons peeled and very finely grated fresh ginger

2 cups very small cauliflower florets, 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long, well washed and drained

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cup fresh cooked peas or defrosted frozen peas

1–3 fresh hot green chilies, finely chopped


1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Put the poha into a sieve and wash gently but thoroughly in running water. Place in a bowl, cover generously with water, and soak for 2 minutes. Drain and leave in a sieve set over a bowl.

2. Put the oil into a large nonstick frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. When hot, add the asafetida and the urad dal. As soon as the dal starts to pick up a little color, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, a matter of seconds, add the curry leaves (take care, as they will splutter), then the onions, ginger, cauliflower, and tur­meric. Stir gently for about 3–4 minutes, still over medium-high heat, until the onions and cauliflower are lightly browned.

3. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the peas, green chil­ies, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the lime juice. Stir gently for 1–2 minutes, always lifting the ingredients from the bottom, so the peas heat/cook through.

4. Add all the poha, gently breaking up any lumps. Sprinkle another – teaspoon of salt over it and mix gently over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes, using a flat spatula and lifting the mixture from the bottom and folding it over the rest. When the ingre­dients are well blended and the poha has heated through, cover and set aside until you are ready to eat.

Excerpted from VEGETARIAN INDIA by Madhur Jaffrey.  Copyright 2014, 2015 by Madhur Jaffrey. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Gregson