In my school there was no concept of school provided lunch. So every day we had to take our own lunch from home. At lunch break all our friends sat down together and feasted from each others boxes.
Our daughter’s school district arranges lunch for its students. They are encouraged to eat healthy with mandatory servings of three portions of veggies and fruits. So they can pick a slice of pizza but also have to pick up broccoli and apples along with it. The problem is that there’s no one to enforce that it travels from the plate to the mouth. So so essentially the lunch becomes only Pizza or Pasta. To avoid this pitfall I generally send lunch with her and she gets to buy and eat junk only once a week on Fridays.
One of her favorites is Chirer Pulao. Which is a pulao made from flattened rice. This is generically called Poha across North India. The one I make has eggs in it. However, vegetarians can omit it.
- 2 cups of dry poha or chiwra (thick cut flattened rice)
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 – 3 green chilies finely chopped
- 1tsp. chopped ginger
- 1 medium potato cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 2tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 10 – 15 peanuts
- 10 – 15 raisins
- 1tsp. turmeric powder
- 1tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
- 1tsp. sugar
- 1tsp. ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 – 3 bay leaves (tejpatta)
- Whole garam masala (2 cloves, 2 green cardamoms, 1” cinnamon)
- 2 eggs (optional)
In a colander or big strainer take dry poha and wash it thoroughly with water. Spread poha on a flat plate.
Take a spoon of oil in a frying pan and heat it up. Fry the peanuts on medium flame till they turn dark brown. Remove and reserve for later use. Use the same greased pan and break two eggs in it. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over it. Allow it to set for a while and then break with the spoon into small pieces. Remove and keep aside.
Heat rest of the oil in a pan and temper with bay leaves and whole garam masala. When they stop spluttering add chopped onion, ginger and half of the green chilies into it. Fry till onion turns soft and pink. Add potato cubes and peas followed by turmeric powder to it and fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add quarter cup of water and cook it covered on low flame for another 3–5 minutes. By this time potatoes will be cooked and most of the water will evaporate.
Now add pre washed poha to it. Throw the omelet pieces, peanuts and raisins in. Sprinkle salt and sugar to your taste. Mix thoroughly. If needed drizzle 2 – 3 tbsp. of water over it and cook it covered on medium heat for 2–3 minutes.
Add a dollop of ghee and sprinkle a pinch of garam masala powder. Garnish with chopped cilantro, green chilies and keep it covered for 5 minutes before you serve.