Poha has traditionally been one of India’s most favoured breakfasts. However, due to the insurgence of food items such as oats and quinoa which aid weight loss, it took a bit of a backseat. However, it is one of the healthiest breakfasts, with 76.9% carbohydrates, 23.1% and 0% of protein. This makes it an ideal breakfast option since energy in the form of carbs is what is required in the morning.
All over India, there are variations of the dish such as kanda pohe, dadpe pohe, dahi chuda (popular is Assam, Bihar, Orissa), poha jalebi(Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh) , kharbujache pohe and others. It has different names in different places, it is known as aval in Tamil, avalakki in Kanada, chiura in Bhojpuri, chuda in Oria and so on. It also finds its place in popular culture, as seen in the Marathi movie Sanai Choughade, which has a song about kande pohe, called ‘Kande Pohe’.
“Poha is a popular Indian breakfast which is made with beaten rice. It’s a wholesome meal and is a good source of carbohydrates, iron, loaded with fibre, a good source of antioxidants and essential vitamins and is gluten free. In order to make it protein rich, one can add pulses and legumes. It’s a great choice for breakfast as well as a mid day snack since it has low glycemic carbs. This will further compliment weight loss since there is no insulin spike,” says Bangalore based Arunava Bhattacharyya, who is a fitness coach and sports nutrition expert.
The fact that poha is made from flattened rice, means that it is easily digestible and is light on the stomach, which makes sure you don’t feel bloated.
“Starting your day with poha is a good option as it loads you up with carbs. In addition you can add peanuts to it, some other vegetables. Potato is a not a good option if you’re looking at losing weight. Onion and coconut can also be added since coconut is known to have natural fat,” advises Mumbai based Dr Hemal Shah, senior nephrologist and secretary, Amar Gandhi Foundation.