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Mumbai Memoir 161- Breakfast- Mumbai Style!

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The final form of the Kande-Pohe snack.

May it be London, New York, Paris, or Mumbai, after a good night sleep, everyone is eager to catch up with the morning breakfast. As the sun ascends in the sky above, its obvious that the stomach craves for food, after ‘fasting’ for almost 8-10 hours in dreamland. It’s a universal ritual that such an overnight ‘fast’ breaks with one’s ‘breakfast’!

In Mumbai, a typical breakfast scene would be a snack with a cup of tea or coffee. Due to its cosmopolitan nature, the breakfast smells from each Mumbai home reflects various ‘flavours of India’. It’s common to see a Maharashtrian eating South Indian Idli and Dosa, a Gujrati eating Punjabi Samosa, a Bihari eating Gujrati Dhokla and a Tamilian eating Maharashtrian Kande Pohe at home, here in Mumbai.

Talking about Kande Pohe, this is a typical breakfast snack cooked at the homes in Mumbai, particularly among Maharashtrian community (Marathi speaking people who are native to the Western Indian state of Maharashtra). Being a Maharashtrian myself, this is the first breakfast recipe my mom encouraged me to learn and practice. I was amazed with the simplicity with which Kande Pohe is made.

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The raw ‘rice flakes’ (poha) that is the main ingredient of Kande-Pohe.

Poha (Pohe is the plural of Poha) means dry flattened rice. This variation of rice is available in all areas of India where there are rice cultivations. Konkan area of Maharashtra depends on rice farming and therefore besides various variety of rice, poha too is available easily. Thus, the poha (rice flakes) & kanda (onion) are the two main ingredient of the Kande-Pohe breakfast dish.

If the Pre-cooking organization is set well, then the actual cooking of Kande-Pohe is very quick. Within 15 minutes one can serve it hot with coriander leaves sprinkled on it as garnish. Assuming the dish is made for 2 people, the preparation is as follows: 2 handful of dry poha should be first soaked in water for around 10 seconds and then drain out the water, allowing the poha to dry itself after a wet wash which softens it. In a utensil pour 1-2 tablespoon of oil (we use sunflower oil), when the oil gets heated, add a pinch of asafoetida, half teaspoon mustard seeds, and half teaspoon cumin seeds. Let these ingredients crack and pop, thus releasing its flavours in the oil.  5-6 curry leaves and 2 chopped green chillies too must be added to the oil. The spicy aroma of the curry leaves hints you to then put in the soft wet poha into the utensil and stir the mixture. Add half table- spoon of turmeric and stir the mixture well on medium fire. Salt to taste, a pinch of sugar and drizzle of lemon juice must be added thereafter. After this, adding grated coconut and allowing the mixture to get steamed concludes the preparation. The sprinkle of water and putting a lid to the utensil creates the steam within for the flavours to blend in. Once cooked, the plate carrying piping hot Kande-Pohe is garnished with fresh coriander leaves along with a thin slice of lemon. Adding fried peanuts or boiled green peas is optional in this preparation. The smell and the view of the decorated Kande-Pohe plate attracts many hungry souls to the breakfast table. This dish is popular just not in Maharashtra, but also in Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior and other parts of Madhya Pradesh state in Central India, particularly where the Maharashtrian community migrated during the Maratha rule and beyond. This dish is now a part of street food culture and is also eaten with jalebis (sweet Indian savoury), particularly in Indore and other parts of Central India. Here is a video link of the preparation of Kande-Pohe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_BkfGRcx3o

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Kande Pohe included in the street food culture of Mumbai & Central Indian cities.

A Marathi music lyricist and composer named Avdoot Gupte, has beautifully related the recipe of Kande-Pohe to the philosophy of Life! Here is the ‘Kande-Pohe’ song for you:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u43G8UDfn0 Many times, while preparing Kande-Pohe unknowingly I hum the ‘Kande-Pohe’ song and enjoy the process!  Through this inspiring song, its nice to remind oneself about the beauty of life while preparing morning breakfast! Another beauty of this dish is that the prime ingredient is ‘Poha’, which is a a very cost-effective food that is affordable across all socio-economic classes of people. Also, it’s the same dish which is extremely popular while arranging traditional marriages in Maharashtrian homes! The event is called ‘Kande-Pohe’ program, where the prospective groom & his family visits the girl’s home and snacks over a dish of ‘Kande-Pohe’ along with tea and general chat. Its literally ‘mass family dating’ in process! Irrespective of the end result of such meet ups, most of the times it’s the taste of the ‘Kande-Pohe’ that is always remembered and relished!

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