Poha and Chai

Jolly Bhattacharjee is originally from India, and migrated to Canberra in 2014.  She has been published in Woroni and loves writing poems that connect her to her homeland and to this beautiful Aussie land.

Jolly - Poha and Chai image

I sit by the window, watching the rain –

filled with a strange nostalgia –

I am tempted to make poha and chai.

In my Aussie kitchen, I take a pot and put oil to heat

then come mustard seeds and curry leaves —

Amidst the spluttering seeds and leaves, I delve into my childhood

and there stands Kanta masi who cooked on the little choolha

aromating our chauka

Now I add haldi, mirchi and kanda

and garnish with coriander,

O what a tempting poha is made  –

Ab aayi chai ki baari, aur main karne lagi tayyari

I pour the chai patti into the boiling pot —

the changing colour encircles my thoughts –

cardamom, sugar and milk to add the magic touch

I pour the tea into my cup—

Enjoying my poha with my chai ka mug

I sit by the window, watching magpies

which resemble the crows of my hometown.

Still rejoicing at changing places and changing faces –

from gum trees to desi neem –

Waiting for friends in a similar way –

once it was Sharada, today it is Sammy –

to share the chai ki pyali and the poha ki thali

Poha Recipe

Poha is a nutritious, fuss-free breakfast that is very popular in Maharashtra.

This piping hot mouth-watering dish has a yellow texture and is finished off with lemon juice and garnished with coriander leaves.  This kanda poha (onion poha) recipe is testimony to the fact that the simplest things in life are often the best.  This recipe goes best with traditional, home-made tea.


200 grams of poha (pressed rice, thick variety)

20-30 peanuts (with skin)

1 medium-sized onion, chopped

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of oil

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

5 – 6 curry leaves

Green chillies (as required)

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Preparation time: 6 – 10 minutes   Cooking time: 16 – 20 minutes

Taste: Mild                                            Serves: 2


Wash the poha in a colander, to begin with.  The poha should be moist but not mashed.  Next, add the salt and sugar and mix gently.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan.  Add mustard seeds and curry leaves and sauté for half a minute.

When they begin to splutter, add the onions and peanuts and continue to sauté.

Add the green chillies and turmeric powder after a few minutes, and mix.  Sauté for two more minutes and add the poha.

Mix and cook until the poha is heated through.

Finally, add the lemon juice and mix well.

Garnish your poha with coriander leaves and serve hot.

© Jolly Bhattacharjee, 2018