Hearty Pantry Breakfast from Across the Globe Indian Poha & Masala Chai

by | Apr 15, 2020 | General, Recipes

Curry Leaf Tree

Curry Leaf Tree (still only a plant)

In these times of stay-at-home orders across the globe, many of us find ourselves relying, more and more, on meals coming from our pantry.

I arose the other morning with a desire to have something comforting, warming my soul equally as much as my physical body. Immediately, I knew exactly what was going to be breakfast.

I started with my absolute favorite beverage, Masala Chai. In Indian, chai means tea, typically black tea. Simply translated, masala is the Indian word for a spice mixture. There are a plethora of masalas, used both in sweet and savory offerings.

Enjoy your first cup while you are making poha. Save the second cup to enjoy with your breakfast.

Ive also made Masala Chai in large batches for parties. Just do the math to figure out the ingredients for the larger batch. Although, I have found that I dont need quite as much of the ingredients as the math would identify. Remember, you can always add more; but you cant take any away. So, start by maybe using three-quarters amount for each ingredient. If you need to add more spices and/or tea leaves, it wont hurt the Chai to simmer a bit longer for you to attain the desired flavor.

Starting the Masala Chai

Tea Leaves Added – Almost Ready

Now you have Masala Chai!

Ready to get started on your Masala Chai?

3 servings

Masala Chai

For my Masala Chai, I have a masala tin that holds my whole spices for this delightfully fragrant tea so its always at the ready. Whole cinnamon sticks, star anise, green cardamom pods, juniper berries, allspice and cloves make up the mlange. Ginger is also an important spice that I include. It just depends on what form I currently have it in, either fresh, dried, or candied. And, of course, black tea leaves, my favorite being Assam Gold Rain Black Tea leaves. Depending on my palate of the day, a sweetener of one kind or another (unrefined cane sugar or agave are my personal go-tos) might make it into the pot.

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  • Two cups water
  • Two cups plant-based milk, my preferred choice being canned, full-fat coconut milk; but any plant-based milk will do.
  • one-half cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 star anise points
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons sliced fresh ginger or 2 cubes candied ginger, broken up
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tea leaves
  • *Optional: espresso or strong coffee


  1. To bring out the most flavor from the spices, gently break them in a mortar and pestle before adding.
  2. Into a small pot add water, plant-based milk, cinnamon sticks, star anise, green cardamom pods, juniper berries, allspice and cloves.
  3. Add your ginger.
  4. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for five (5) minutes.
  5. Add tea leaves, and continue simmering until the chai turns a lovely caramel-like color, about another five minutes.
  6. Sweeten to taste, if desired.
  7. Put a strainer over the tea cup, and pour the chai into the cup, straining the tea leaves and spices out.


*Option: Dirty Chai add a shot of espresso or very strong coffee to the Chai for a more complex flavor profile.


Nutrition Facts
    Amount Per Serving
  • Calories 621
  • % Daily Value*

  • Total Fat: 14 g 21.54%
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g 5%
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg 0%
  • Sodium: 38 mg 1.58%
  • Potassium: 2249 mg 64.26%
  • Total Carbohydrate: 136 g %
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Vitamin A: 0.68%
  • Calcium: 788 mg 78.8%
  • Iron: 29 mg 161.11%
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and MyPlate Info

So, first, I guess I ought to explain exactly what poha is…

It is partially boiled rice that is then flattened and dried. It sort of looks like oatmeal but lighter in color. The poha I used was red poha, made from red rice. You can purchase poha from any Indian or multinational grocer; but I also saw it available through Amazon. Because it is parboiled and flattened, it cooks quickly.

Sauteeing the potatoes

Spices & Veggies Added – Awaiting Poha

Indian Poha

A lovely breakfast!

Indian Poha

This recipe is typically served as a breakfast dish. But you can feed it to me any time of day and I wont complain. It is also excellent to use as a breakfast porridge, mixing it with oatmeal, millet, barley, grits, etc., for a varied bowl of hearty warmth and coziness, made with a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, sugar and a dollop of yogurt.

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  • 2-3 tablespoons avocado oil, separated
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 20 curry leaves, chopped if they are large, optional (but they truly are traditional and are that burst of flavor that will make you say, hum, yum).
  • 5-6 small red potatoes or 1 large potato, cut in small slices
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (you can omit or add more, depending on the level of heat you prefer)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon salt, separated
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (If frozen, you can run them under cold water for a moment to separate them and partially defrost. I didnt have peas, so I used lima beans.)
  • 2 cups poha, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one fresh-squeezed lemon (remember to zest the rind before juicing the lemon, and save zest for another useit freezes well)
  • cup chopped peanuts, optional


  1. In a large skillet or cast iron pan that has a lid, add half the oil along with the mustard seeds. On medium heat, gently toast the mustard seeds until they become fragrant but not burned. You might even experience a mustard seed or two pop in the pan.
  2. Add the curry leaves, and stir for several seconds. They will become fragrant quickly.
  3. Add the potatoes and stir to coat them. At this point, you may need to add some to all of the remaining oil.
  4. Stir in the jalapeno, turmeric, and half the salt.
  5. Cover with the lid and allow the potatoes to saut until soft and beginning to become golden. Stir occasionally during this process. This should take approximately 10-15 minutes. The lid helps to keep the moisture in and cook the potatoes through while allowing them to attain that golden color on the outside.
  6. Take off the lid and add the peas. Stir to combine and heated through.
  7. Add the poha and the remaining salt. Stir to combine. You might need to add some water to keep the poha moist but not wet while it heats through.
  8. I like to let some of the poha get a little bit of color and sort of a crust on it, so I cook mine longer than you might like. It sometimes requires a scant amount more of oil as well. But, you be the judge.
  9. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cilantro and peanuts (if adding).
  10. Serve immediately with some Indian lime pickles (or your favorite Indian pickle or chutney) for an added flavor burst. While not traditional, Ive served it with Sambar, which is a loose Indian lentil stew that has its own unique and delectable flavor that will hit and titillate all your senses.


Nutrition Facts
    Amount Per Serving
  • Calories 1037
  • % Daily Value*

  • Total Fat: 83 g 127.69%
  • Saturated Fat: 12 g 60%
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg 0%
  • Sodium: 7235 mg 301.46%
  • Potassium: 942 mg 26.91%
  • Total Carbohydrate: 49 g %
  • Sugar: 12 g
  • Protein: 34 g
  • Vitamin A: 19.08%
  • Calcium: 89 mg 8.9%
  • Iron: 9 mg 50%
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and MyPlate Info