At least I think this is the 29th session for Bookmarked Recipes! 28, 29, 30… whatever number it is, it’s high time that I posted this recipe for chura!
I first tried flattened rice eons ago at a tea stall just outside Allahabad. A farmer started chatting with us and offered us a taste of his paper bag of chura (flattened rice) that he pulled out of his pockets. And it was wonderful! Very plain. Just lightly salted.
It was one of the first days I had dared to leave our room for more than an hour and was starting to feel myself again; I was finally able to eat real food again after about a week of being confined to eating rice, yoghurt, bananas and filtered water (that particular diet is the worst way to loose weight!) But I was getting mightily tired of plain rice. However, this dried flattened rice was really wonderful. Like the best dried cereal. It was JUST what the doctor ordered!
And then (for years) we completely forgot about flattened rice until reading Shoba Narayan’s recipe for poha in her lovely book, “Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes”. As I read about the dish (way back in February of last year!!), T suddenly cried out, “Chura!! I love chura!!”. It turns out that poha is simply another name for flattened rice (aka pressed rice, pressed rice flakes, beaten rice, chura,…).
Why am I surprised that there would be more than one name for this in a country where over 100 languages are spoken?
Narayan’s recipe for flattened rice, calling for lime juice, curry leaves and coconut but no peas, is different from the one that T had many times when he was living in India. He thinks that the one he ate is a Bengali recipe. Here is what he did to reproduce the chura he used to eat, to make the best breakfast (or snack) for a brisk autumn morning.
Chura: flattened rice with peas and peanuts
inspired by Shoba Narayan’s recipe for poha in Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes
serves 2 hogs
- 1 c dried flattened rice (aka pressed rice, pressed rice flakes, beaten rice, chura, poha)
- good shot vegetable oil
- 2 or 3 dried cayenne chillies
- brown mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp nigella seeds
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- pinch fenugreek
- 3/4-inch ginger, chopped finely
- 1 stalk curry leaves, chopped (optional)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small Yukon Gold potato, cubed
- green peas, to taste
- ¼ c salted roasted peanuts
- ¼ c Thompson raisins
- ¼ tsp sugar (optional)
- seasalt, to taste
- 4 or 5 green chillies, cut in coins
- ¼ c grated toasted coconut (optional)
- fresh coriander leaf, aka cilantro (optional)
- Gently wash the flattened rice by covering with water and swishing around. Drain through a colander and set it aside. *
- Heat oil in a wok. Blacken the chilies, then add potato fry them until they are golden brown.
- Add the brown mustard seeds, nigella, cumin seeds and turmeric and cook until the seeds start to pop. Add ginger and onion and cooking until the onion begins to soften.
- Loosen the rice gently and break any lumps with your fingers, then add to the wok. Continue cooking until the onion is translucent and the potato is tender.
- Stir in the peanuts, raisins and peas. When the peas are heated through, stir in the green chili coins and it’s ready to serve.
- Garnish with coriander leaf and/or toasted coconut if you like.
Serve chura with good strong coffee. (I am partial to adding cardamom and cream to my coffee when having it with chura.) Flattened rice is equally wonderful served hot or at room temperature. It travels very well to be eaten for picnics or snacks.Notes
Each time this is made, it is ever so slightly different, depending on what spices are added or omitted. The only constants in T’s version of chura seem to be flattened rice, potatoes, peas, peanuts and raisins.
Having said that peanuts are a constant, allow me to about-face: if you’re feeling extravagant, cashews work well as a replacement for the peanuts.
Many on-line recipes include coconut. But for some reason, T is very much opposed to the coconut now and has refused to add it the last couple of times we’ve had the dish. I, on the other hand, love the toasty flavour it lends. If you are in a split household like ours, toast some coconut and put it in a dish to serve as an optional garnish. And do note that toasted coconut works better than simply dried coconut flakes.
edit February 2008: * When draining the pressed rice, make sure the colander holes are quite large. In fact, it’s probably better to drain the rice in a mesh sieve that has plenty of air circulating below it. Otherwise, the rice may retain too much water and turn into mush. (what to do if your rice turns to porridge)
I love this dish!! Last week, I was travelling a fair amount, with little time allowed to get dinner or lunch. Each morning, I packed a container of chura to take with me. How wonderful it was to have chura instead of crummy fast food!
Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked. For complete details on how to participate, please read the following:
edit 11 November 2008: Ruth’s computer problems are fixed at last and she has posted the round-up. It turns out that this post is for Bookmarked Recipes #28. Take a look at the many other wonderful looking entries!
Bookmarked Recipes 28: Round up