Poha is a classic, hearty Indian breakfast dish, made of potatoes, onions, lots of crunchy spices, and a base of flattened rice. But that flattened rice is very temperamental. It dries out easily. It gets mushy. So my aunt Rachna came up with the idea of making poha out of rice noodles, which turns out to be a huge upgrade— they’re glassy-looking, chewy, and waaaay easier to cook with. Also, if I had it my way, I would sub in noodles for everything, because noodles are the best, and I would take them over rice any day!!! Let’s quickly talk about accompaniments: These noodles taste wonderful on their own, but typically Rachna will serve them with both Cilantro Chutney (page 62) and ketchup, because her daughter, Mitali, cannot live without the former, and her son, Ruchir, cannot live without the latter. Ketchup plus noodles: Trust me on this.
Rice Noodle Poha is excerpted from Indian-ish © 2019 by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna. Photography © 2019 by Mackenzie Kelley. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 7 fresh curry leaves
- 2 large russet potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/ 2 small onion, finely diced
- 1 small Indian green chile or serrano chile, finely chopped
- 8 ounces thin rice noodles
- 1/ 4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/ 4 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more if needed (from about 1 lime)
- Lime wedges, for serving
- 1/ 2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, stems and leaves, for garnish
- Ketchup, (optional), for serving
In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the black mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the oil, which should be within seconds, remove the pan from the heat. Add the curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in the oil (there may be more pop-ping and splattering, and that’s okay!). The leaves should immediately crisp up in the residual heat.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the potatoes, onion, and chile. Sauté until the potatoes start to soften and brown slightly but aren’t yet fully cooked, 6 to 7 minutes. Add ½ cup water, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes more, until the potatoes are soft and fully cooked.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and transfer the noodles to a large bowl.
Sprinkle the turmeric, ¾ teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar onto the noodles and toss to combine, using tongs to prevent the noodles from turning into mush. If the noodles are sticking together, add a little bit of the reserved cooking water to make them easier to work with. The noodles should turn a pale yellow color.
When the potatoes and onion are done cooking, add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, then add the noodles, tossing with tongs to combine the noodles and vegetables. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the lime juice. Taste and adjust the salt and lime if needed. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with lime wedges (and ketchup + Cilantro Chutney, if you want!)