Chef's Corner (Recipes)
Batata Poha – Flattened Rice with Potatoes
- Recipe by Cyrus Todiwala
The credit for use of recipes and images is: Mr Todiwala's Bombay
by Cyrus Todiwala (Hardie Grant, £25.00)
Photography: Helen Cathcart
“I am extremely pleased to support Laila rice in such an ambitious project, which, due to its scale will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people.That the UK is battling a serious war with child poverty is distressing, and we all have a part to play in resolving this challenge.”

Flattened rice, or poha, is very popular across the subcontinent and it is prepared and cooked in many different ways. Each community has its own style, whether they turn it into sweets, desserts, savoury dishes, snacks or midday quick meals.


This recipe is perfect for a welcoming, light midday snack, if someone turns up at the doorstep unannounced or as a teatime accompaniment. The Maharashtrians call it batata poha, the Gujerati call it bataka aney poha bhaat, and in South India in Tamil Nadu it’s often called aval uppuma. The Gujerati version may have a bit more sugar and lime juice in it, and perhaps peanuts; the South Indians no doubt have their mustard seeds but also urad or white lentil and/or channa daal (or yellow split peas); however one thing is for certain, this snack is one of my favourites and I can assure you that it is most enjoyable.
250g poha
2-3 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
a generous pinch asafoetida
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 white onions, finely chopped
3-5 green chillies, finely chopped
10-12 curry leaves, shredded
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt, to taste
200gm potatoes, peeled and diced
150-200g green peas, (optional)
1 small lime, juiced
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 whole coconut, grated
or 250g coconut, frozen grated
or 2-3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, soaked in water
than drained
chilli powder, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and then toss in the sweetcorn along with the lemon zest. Stir to coat with the oil and cook for 3 minutes and then sprinkle in the turmeric and ginger, and stir-fry over a medium heat for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the golden chicken stock and drop in the rice. Boil over a low to medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Squeeze in the lemon juice, and sprinkle in a few drops of the sesame oil. Top with the chopped coriander.


Wash the poha or flattened rice well, squeeze out the excess water and drain in a colander


Heat the oil in a kadhai, a shallow but largish lidded frying pan, or casserole dish with a lid.


When the oil forms a haze add the mustard, reduce the heat to medium and place the lid on top for just a few seconds until the crackling dies down.


Add the cumin seeds and as soon as they change colour add the asafoetida.


Add the garlic, ginger, chopped onion, green chilli, shredded curry leaves and continue sautéing until the onions turn soft.


Add the turmeric, salt (to taste) and the potatoes. Cover tightly, reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are cooked. Do not add any water, just allow the potatoes to cook in their own steam. They will cook well provided you do not keep the heat high.


Once potatoes are cooked add the green peas (if you like). If you are using fresh peas, cook them with the potato, if using frozen, add them once the potato is cooked.


Sprinkle the poha over the potatoes, add the lime juice, sugar, coconut and the chilli powder and cook until the poha turns soft.


Serve hot – immediately if possible – with half the coriander blended in and half sprinkled on top.



Cyrus Todiwala

From ‘chef of genius’ to ‘creator of the classiest curries in the City’ — this Bombay-born Parsee chef has been called all manner of good things, but the Chef Patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, and The Park Café in Victoria Park East still has his feet very much on the ground…running. And a fourth restaurant looms – the Goan-Portuguese Assado, soon to open in London’s Waterloo area.


He cooks, teaches, runs three successful restaurants and does more than his fair bit for charity and the community, but Cyrus’ restless, entrepreneurial soul means he’s never going to stand still. He’s never said no to a challenge, whether it’s leaving a secure Executive Chef role in the Taj Group of Hotels in Goa 21 years ago to start all over in the UK, or bravely daring to combine flavours, spices and ingredients in ways no other Indian chef has done before.


His ‘worst kept secret’ Khaadraas Club Dinners held at Café Spice Namaste every 4-5 weeks feature heirloom recipes from his mother and aunts in Bombay and India. They’ve become coveted rituals, introducing his rich Parsee culinary heritage to a wider audience.


In 2011, with Pervin Todiwala he opened Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, the signature restaurant at the Hilton London Heathrow T5 and in 2013, The Park Cafe at Victoria Park East. Despite being a hands-on chef, he’s managed to slot in regular appearances on BBC Saturday Kitchen and other media channels. In autumn 2013, Cyrus Todiwala teamed up with Scottish Chef Tony Singh in the hit prime time series on BBC2, ‘The Incredible Spice Men’. Two years earlier, he appeared in the travelogue ‘Galleons of Spice’, broadcast on the History Channel, taking viewers through a tour of the culinary traditions and influences of Goa and Portugal.


Cyrus is the author of 5 books: ‘International Cuisine: India’, ‘Cafe Spice Namaste: New Wave Indian Cuisine’, ‘Indian Summer’, as well as ‘The Incredible Spicemen’ with Tony Singh, published by Ebury and the BBC, and nominated for a 2013 Specsavers National Book Award, and ‘Mr Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes and Memories from India’, published by Hardie Grant and nominated for a 2013 World Food Awards Cookbook of the Year.


He appears regularly at top food festivals around the world, including Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales, where his hand-made line of gluten-free pickles and chutneys, Mr Todiwala’s Splendidly Spicy Pickles and Chutneys, sell out before the end of the show.


A passionate campaigner for sustainability and buying British, Café Spice Namaste’s list of green awards includes the Sustainable Food Award from the Corporation of London and a ‘Special Achievement Award’ for his commitment to the environment from the Footprint Forum.


Today, Cyrus is the proud recipient of a Craft Guild of Chefs ‘Special Award and has been made Fellow of the Academy of Culinary Arts and the Master Chefs of Great Britain. In 2013, Cafe Spice Namaste, which he set up with Pervin Todiwala 18 years ago, won the Best Asian Restaurant Business Award at the Asian Business Awards. And Cyrus is one of only a handful of British Asian chefs with an entry in the Who’s Who.


Cyrus sits on a number of boards including the London Food Board, under the Mayor’s office, and the Hospitality Guild. He is a member of the Asian Restaurant Skills Board, which aims to raise the prestige and profile of the Asian cuisine industry as a career choice – a cause very close to his heart, having opened the pioneering Asian & Oriental School of Catering in 2000, which went on to inspire others chefs to open their own training restaurants. Ever the innovator, ten years later, in 2013, Cyrus launched The Asian Junior Chefs Challenge (since re-launched as Zest Quest Asia), a first of its kind, with the Master Chefs of Great Britain, to help introduce Asian cookery to a new generation of ‘homegrown’ talent.


He is an active Ambassador of Springboard UK, the industry careers charity, an Enterprise Champion of LeSoCo and an Honorary Professor of the University of West London. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from London Metropolitan University.


Cyrus was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen for services to education & training and an OBE for his contribution to the hospitality industry. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London. In 2012, he cooked the very first luncheon for HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tour, featuring his now famous ‘Country Captain’.



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