Chiwda Matar: A Banarasi Poha Made With Love
Chiwda matar is the staple breakfast for a Banarasi. Fresh green peas and flattened rice from the new crop makes the best chiwda matar, and this version of Banarasi poha has its own unique flavour. In fact, it should not be called as poha at all, as the flattened rice is called chiwda in this part of the country and people here take their chiwda quite seriously.
Chiwda made with fragrant short grain rice is considered the best for making chiwda matar. The essence of chiwda matar lies on the aromatic flavours it packs, but the base is provided by the fragrant chiwda and the fresh tender green peas. No onion-garlic is used in the authentic recipe and even the street food version of chiwda matar follows this rule. The hot, sweet and sour notes of this special dish come from fresh ginger root, dash of garam masala, lime juice, loads of fresh coriander greens and a gentle spot of sugar. Note that this chiwda matar packs in some milk and cream too. I am sure you have a fair idea of what I am talking about.
Although every family has its own version of chiwda matar, some add grated carrots to it and some add a deluge of nuts and raisins. But, the base flavours remain the same--aromatic hot, sweet and sour in a very balanced Banarasi way, of course dripping with ghee. The version I am sharing here is lighter on ghee in comparison.
Recipe for Chiwda Matar (Serves 4)
500 gm green peas, tender and fresh
200 gm chiwda, short grain fragrant variety preferred
20 gm (1 heaped tbsp ghee) A true Banarasi will use about 60 gm or even more
100 ml milk
50 ml fresh cream (or more if you feel indulgent)
Dash of strong garam masala (a mix of cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, nutmeg)
½ tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp minced green chillies
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp chopped cashew nuts
2 tbsp raisins
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
Lime juice to taste
1. Rinse the chiwda under running water quickly in a colander and empty it in a bowl. Add salt enough for the chiwda, milk and cream, mix well and let it rest till you proceed to cook the peas.
2. Heat ghee in a deep kadhai, tip in the cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the nuts and raisins and fry briefly, taking care not to brown them.
3. Add the minced ginger, chilies, peas, sugar, salt, garam masala together, stir to mix and cover to cook. Add ¼ cup of water or milk if required.
4. When the peas in the pan are cooked, add the soaked chiwda, mix well with soft movement of the ladle and mix in the chopped coriander leaves.
5. Add lime juice and adjust seasoning according to taste.
6. The flavours should be aromatic with garam masala, ghee, ginger and coriander leaves. The base flavours come with the fragrant chiwda, the sweet tender peas and the milk and cream used.
7. This chiwda matar sounds heavy, but it isn’t heavy on the system. It is usually served in large portions for breakfast, and in smaller portions as an accompaniment to chai. A Banarasi can have chiwda matar any time of the day in fact.