A treat free of consequences

Breakfast business: The Mahour Poha cart is usually sold out by the afternoon.

Breakfast business: The Mahour Poha cart is usually sold out by the afternoon.  

A dish of poha provides Rahul Verma with a teatime snack and other advantages

High on the list of things that make me happy during teatime is a plate of poha. The dish — popular in western India — consists of pressed rice (or churwa), cooked with fried potatoes and some nice spices. I like it for its taste, and for the fact that poha, unlike a samosa at tea, doesn’t prompt you to get up in the middle of the night in search of antacids.

We have been cooking poha at home in various ways — with or without potatoes, onions, curry leaves, fried peanuts, and so on. But I had a very different kind of poha the other day. And it was not at home, or in anybody else’s house. It was, surprisingly, from a cart on the roadside in Mayur Vihar Phase 1.

I first got to hear about it from our friend Jayan, who lives somewhere there. He said the poha man, who parked his cart not very far from the Mayur Vihar Metro station, did brisk business, and people lined up there with empty tiffin boxes on their way to work. I wanted to check him out, but the only problem was that he was there only in the morning. By 2 or so in the afternoon, he’d sold off everything and gone away.

So one morning, after paying my telephone bills, I wound my way to Mayur Vihar Phase 1. The poha cart, I was told, was opposite the Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Phase 1 (and near the Metro station). I found it without much trouble. Mahour Poha, the cart said in bold letters (Mobile: 9953541847), and proclaimed it as Indore’s famous poha.

I talked to the owner, a young man from Madhya Pradesh called Hari Om. He set up his cart roughly over a year ago. He reaches the spot at 6 in the morning, and then starts setting up the paraphernalia for cooking his poha. He is done by seven, when the first commuters (and other breakfast seekers) start lining up before his cart. On weekends there is a greater demand for his poha, which is over by noon. Hari Om tells me that his churwa comes all the way from Indore.

I like the way he serves his poha, which he cooks in a huge utensil. He takes a part of the poha and places it carefully on top of the utensil lid, under a net. He gives you a helping of the poha, and then sprinkles some masala over it. He tops it with a layer of chopped onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves. He adds a dash of lime juice to the poha, and then he puts some crispy sev and fried peanuts on top. If you want your poha packed, he places it in an aluminium foil for you, and puts the sev and the peanuts in a separate plastic bag. Each plate of poha is for Rs.20.

I enjoyed the poha, as did my family and friends. It has a mildly sweet taste, which is different and nice. And the crunchy topping of sev and peanuts complements the softness of the pressed rice.

And, no, I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night for an antacid either.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:47:28 PM |

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