Friday, February 22, 2013

Chirer Pulao aka Poha -- witth Oats ahem

Chirer pulao featured a close second in my "Most wanted School Lunch" list as a kid.

The winner was almost always the egg noodles.

Third and Fourth place were tied and was either a fried rice, savory french toasts or aloo paratha. Yes, my mother packed good lunches.

As far as I go Chirer Pulao is largely similar to a Poha, with small differences like the former does not have kari patta, is sweeter and is overall Bong. The experts may differ. My Mother made chirer pulao with a tadka of mustard seeds and finished it with lime juice and fresh coriander leaves. It would be a little sweet and tart. That chirer pulao would be studded with crunchy brown friend chinebadam pale on the inside, alu bhaja -- finger length potatoes fried and soft and soft green jewel like green pea motorshuti . It was a simple dish, I thought.

The first time I tried to make it on my own in the US, my self-esteem took a good beating. The chirer pulao turned into a chirer khichuri. And it all happened in the split second that I was searching for the mustard seeds while the poha was soaking. I did not know of a term called "mise en place" and I did not know I was using thin poha. It was the wrong kind. The thick poha stands a better chance of holding its own and is the poha of choice for Chirer Pulao.

Having survived that tragedy, I have been making the chirer pualo the way my Mother makes until that is this Monday.

Chirer Pulao, Bengali Poha

This Monday I decided to add oats to chirer pulao. Why you ask ? Why not just let oats be and eat it as a breakfast cereal.

Well, while me and the husband eat a decent amount of oatmeal, the kids do not. They don't like the texture. Since I was making this for BS's school lunch, I thought why not make it a bit more healthy by adding steel cut oats. I mean people make oats upma all the time so why not this.I used only 1/4 cup of steel cut oats and 1 cup of poha and then cooked and rinsed the oatmeal to remove the slimy texture. The end result was pretty good if I may say so myself.

I was pretty impressed by my fine sense of culinary mix and match (ahem) and just when I was feeling a wee bit like Marc Samuelsson this conversation happened.

The husband(who was at work on Monday and would be back next day): What did you make today ?
Me: I made a Chire Oats er Pulao for tomorrow's lunch.It turned out so good.
He: Oats and Chire together ? ***Followed by Long silence ***
Me: Yeah, why ? It is really good.
He: Amake khete hobe na to ? I hope there will be none left by the time I return.
Me: !!#$%#$!!

But of course I did not let that bother me. The lunch was packed for BigSis next day and she did not complain.

For the recipe of Chirer Pulao with Oats check my blog for kids where I am storing lunch box ideas. 

Chirer Pulao or Poha

Steel Cut Oats -- 1/4th Cup (optional)
Thick Poha or Chire - 1 Cup


Potato - 1 medium
carrot - 1 medium
Green peas - 1/4 Cup
Cauliflower -- 8-10 small florets chopped if available

Green Chilli - 3-4 minced
Ginger - 1" knob minced
Onion - 1 small chopped

For Tadka

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chilli - 1

Other Ingredients

Peanuts- 1/8th Cup
Coriander - to garnish
Lime Juice - 1 Tbsp

Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Oil -- 2-3 Tbsp


Cook 1/4 cup of steel cut oats in boiling water for 8-10 minutes or as mentioned in package. The oat should be cooked but have a bite. Once cooked drain on a sieve and rinse out the starch with cold water

Chop 1 medium potatoes along the length or small cubes. Chop 1 carrot in small cubes . Defrost 1/4th cup of  green peas

Chop 1 small sized onion. Peel and chop 1" knob of ginger in julienne

Fry a handful of raw peanuts till brown and crunchy.

Keep 1 cup of thick poha ready. We are going to soak it soon.

Start making the Chirer Pulao

Heat Oil in a fry pan. Vegetable Oil or Mustard oil preferred but I often make it with Olive oil too.

Saute the potatoes with a sprinkle of turmeric till they are golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp of Mustard seeds and 1 dry red  chilli

When the spices pop, add the onion and saute till soft and pink. Throw in the 2 green chilli chopped in rounds and minced ginger

Next add the carrots and green peas. Saute and then cover to let the vegetables cook.

When the carrot is almost done, add the potatoes and finish cooking them.

While the veggies are cooking do this:
Take a sieve
Put 1 cup of poha/chire on the sieve
Now hold the sieve under running water and soak the chire until they are soft.
You can also soak the poha in water directly but I often end up with soggy poha that way. The sieve and running water helps me control the exact softness I want in my chire.
Once the chire/pha is soft, squeeze out the excess water and keep it ready

Once the veggies are cooked, add the poha/chire to the frying pan. Add salt to taste and toss the poha so that the vegetables and the poha are nicely mixed. Add the cooked oats and mix well. Add a tsp of sugar and cook the whole thing for a few minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

At the very end add juice of about half a lime and mix. Garnish with fried peanuts and chopped coriander.



  1. Biyer pore chirer shob version e khai. Motorshuti deya chirer polau khetei pari. :-)

  2. Chirer pulao besh bhalo baniyecho, but addition of oats in it, is new to me, dekhte to phataphati hoyeche. Motei chirer khichuri hoy ni-:)

  3. Brilliant! I'll go over for the recipe.

  4. Looks delicious and healthy! Wonderful snaps! Do visit my blog at -

  5. I like chirer pulao and the one with oats and chire sounds even better. Also, really liked your gota sheddo post and what you said at the end "I pray for my kids every day." part... so true and really honest!

  6. This looks tempting... will surely give it a try! :)

  7. I use oatmeal and chire interchangeably but never combined them together. Good idea.

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  9. Pulao looks so inviting. Bookmarked.

  10. Love this pulao. Nice picture.

  11. lovely! thats the spirit..let the husband men live in their conventional world of taste and let us expand our horizon..

  12. apnar to school life-er favourite tiffin chhilo Bong Mom, amar to ei buro boyosero favourite tiffin eta. ki je bhalo khete hoy, je na kheyechhe tar moto abhaga prithibite ar keu nei.

  13. It looks really pretty! I'm experimenting with various one-dish meals, maybe this will make it to my dinner box one day.

  14. Love this recipe. Will definitely try it. I was really hoping you used steel cut oats when I saw the heading because that's the only oats we eat. - Mimi

  15. This sounds delicious! I have never heard of poha--hoping I can find it next time I am at the Indian market!


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