Mexican rice, Arroz Rojo

Whenever I dine out at a Mexican restaurant, I indulge in the delectable red Mexican rice, Arroz Rojo. It is usually served alongside any entrée I order, accompanied by black beans, salsas, pico de gallo, and other condiments. Inspired by my love for this Mexican side dish, I’m putting a modern twist on the classic Indian flattened rice flakes, Pohe/Poha. I’m transforming the humble ingredient into vibrant and flavorful dish, the Mexican Pohe.

Mexican Pohe

Pohe/Poha

Pohe (as they are called in my mother tongue, Marathi), also known as Poha (in Hindi), are flattened rice flakes. They are staple in the Indian cuisine, particularly in the western and central states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. They are made by parboiling rice, then rolling, flattening, and finally, drying to produce flakes. The final product is highly versatile and can be used in a variety of sweet and savory preparations.

Red Pohe

Pohe/ poha are available in different thicknesses, ranging from thin (used to make Chivda, a savory snack mix) to thick. The thick flakes are more popular and are mostly used to make dishes like Kanda Pohe. Within the thick variety, you’ll find two types – white and red. Red Poha is a healthier alternative to the white variety, rich in dietary fibre with less trans fat and cholesterol. I tend to use both in my cooking but chose the red variety in my recipe for the Mexican Pohe. I hoped that they would impart a deeper color and robust flavor to the finished dish.

Mexican Pohe

Kanda Pohe

Kanda Pohe is a traditional breakfast or afternoon snack originating from the western state of Maharashtra, India. It is made with flattened rice flakes stir-fried in a mildly spiced onion and potato mixture. It made frequent appearances on our table for breakfast or snack after school snack every week growing up. I still prepare the dish for brunch on lazy weekends or for a quick lunch on busy weekdays. It’s one of the simplest foods to make, requiring just a few basic ingredients, and it comes together rather quickly.

Kanda Pohe

Simple Preparation of Kanda Pohe

The humble Kanda Pohe are prepared in the simplest of ways in Maharashtrian households. The flattened rice flakes are rinsed thoroughly under cold tap water in a colander. They are then allowed to soften up as they soak any water remaining in the colander. Meanwhile, a mixture of onions along with potatoes, peas, and any other vegetables along with raw peanuts, is sautéed in hot oil seasoned with mustard seeds, turmeric, curry leaves and green chilies. I love to play around with the vegetables, adding seasonal vegetables, like fresh green garbanzos or chickpeas.

Kanda Pohe with Fresh Garbanzos

The softened rice flakes are then added to the spiced onion mixture and cooked until they are heated through and well-incorporated. Finally it is garnished with freshly grated coconut, chopped cilantro, crispy sev (deep fried spiced chickpea flour noodles) and a squeeze of lime juice for added flavor.

I used the same method to make my Mexican Pohe recipe; except I switched up some of the flavoring ingredients to give the dish a brand new makeover!

Mexican Pohe

It was a fantastic kitchen experiment, resulting in a flavorful and delicious success. I mean, just look at how vibrant and delicious the Mexican Pohe look! Doesn’t it make you want to reach right into the picture and grab that spoon?

Mexican Pohe

Mexican Pohe

Pohe/poha, much like rice, serves as a blank canvas. They absorb the goodness and flavors from an array of spices and aromatics used in their preparation. Besides Kanda Pohe, I also prepare Khichadiche Pohe, a cherished family recipe passed down through generations. The last time I craved Kanda Pohe, I decided to change some of the flavoring ingredients, drawing inspirations from the Mexican cuisine and gave them a fresh new twist.

Mexican Pohe

Just like with Mexican rice, I stirred the soaked pohe/poha into a Spanish sofrito—a mixture of onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomato paste/tomato sauce, and spices such as ground cumin and paprika. The recipe was just as easy to prepare and came together in almost the same amount of time it takes me to make the usual Kanda Pohe.

Mexican Pohe

Whether enjoyed as a hearty breakfast to kickstart the day, a hearty lunch or as a satisfying snack to curb afternoon cravings, these Mexican-inspired Pohe promise to delight the senses and transport you to the vibrant streets of Mexico with every mouthful. Get ready to embark on a culinary journey where the best of Indian and Mexican cuisines collide in a harmonious fusion of taste and tradition.

Mexican Pohe

I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

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Mexican Pohe


  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: Serves 2

Description

A twist on the classic Indian pohe/poha (flattened rice flakes) made by preparing it similar to Mexican rice, Arroz Rojo, for a refreshing change.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup red poha (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or a neutral cooking oil
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium green pepper, finely chopped
  • 23 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (see FAQs & Notes)
  • 2 small or 1 medium tomato, diced (see FAQs & Notes)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 45 sprigs of cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped, for garnishing

Instructions

  • Rinse the pohe/poha in a sieve or colander under cold tap water for 1/2 minutes till the water runs clear. Set aside until ready to use. 
  • In a deep sauté pan or a small wok, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, green peppers and garlic. 
  • Give it a stir and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, till the onions and the peppers turn soft. 
  • Add in the tomato paste and the diced tomatoes. Using the spoon, break the lump of the tomato paste and continue stirring till the tomatoes are well combined with the onions and peppers. 
  • Season with salt, paprika and ground cumin. 
  • Stir to combine well. Cover and let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the softened pohe/poha along with the peas. 
  • Combine everything well. 
  • Simmer covered for about 5 minutes, allowing the pohe/poha to absorb the flavors and cook completely.
  • Uncover and adjust seasonings. 
  • Take it off the heat and serve warm, garnished with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves (see FAQs & Notes for storing leftovers).

Keywords: Quick & Easy, Restaurant Inspired

Step-by-Step Details

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Where to buy pohe/poha?

White and red poha can be easily found in the local Indian grocery stores or online on Amazon (white and red)

Can I use white poha that I have on hand?

Absolutely! If you have thick white poha, you can use it by all means.

What happens if I use thin poha?

Thin poha will clump up and not hold their shape with moisture. They are usually not rinsed and used directly in recipes that do not include any wet ingredients, like Chivda.

Don't have tomato paste?

You don’t have to dash out to the store if you’re out of tomato paste; tomato sauce and tomato puree are both an excellent substitute. For every 1 tablespoon of tomato paste needed, use 3 tablespoons of tomato puree or sauce.

Don't have fresh tomatoes?

Use canned diced tomatoes instead.

Got leftovers?

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave oven for 2 minutes on high heat or as needed, depending on the quantity of the leftovers.

Recipe Variations

Make the Mexican rice, Arroz Rojo! For an easy version, substitute pohe/poha with cooked long grain rice, like basmati and follow the rest of the recipe as is. It will be similar to a fried rice, with Mexican flavors.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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