Friday, July 12, 2013

The pow-pow- sorry phov-phov meal

‘Give me a quick meal to make,’ modern mother’s cry. ‘The kids have to be sent to school, bags are to be packed, mid- morning Tiffin’s to be prepared, where do we have time to prepare breakfasts too?’

Well the Goan Culinary Club always aims to find solutions in a healthy way. And as we rightly pointed out a good breakfast is the ‘need’ for the day. At our last meet we had popular TV and food artist Ms Amita Salatry give us a ‘peek’ into Saraswat styled breakfasts, and with a focus on what the children would like, we delved into a ‘pow-pow’ concept…sorry ‘Phov-phov’ concept. That is what this preparation is normally known as locally.

We always have the feeling that Goan preparations are time consuming. Grate the coconut, grind the masala, and stir on the fire till after about 20-30 minutes we get the desired product. But there are preparations (one of which wiki pedia has rated as a fast food preparation) that might take just 7 minutes of those precious moments…..
Yes we are still on the subject of breakfasts, and this ingredient is with something so easily available in the stores….the Pohe. Mother’s don’t cry for a fast food styled preparation for your children, besides cereals, and if one goes by the definition this ‘phov’ it is a high carbohydrate low fat quick meal that can be made in minutes. 

So what is Pohe? It is made from Poha or rice which is pressed into flakes. Usually before cooking, poha is softened with water and then cooked in to a variety of dishes. When cooked with spices and vegetable, it becomes the poha and sometimes it is also served with sugar, coconut, banana and milk. Bengalis call Pohe - Chirer Pulao.

Say’s Ms Salatary’ Varieties of Pohe are normally prepared during the Ganesh Chaturti and Diwali celebration.’ So let’s take a look and see the difference in the varieties of Pohe made in Goa. Ms Salatary had spoken of Tikat phov(chili powder, haldi, peppercorns, green chilies, cashewnuts, coconut, jaggery) which is part of the Ojhe where the parents send snacks to their married daughter to celebrate Ganesh in her new home. Then there is the batata phov (potato, jeera powder, green chilies and tempered), buttermilk phov (buttermilk, green chilies and tempered), Kalayela Phov (Mixed Pohe with rice, jaggery and coconut),the Solkaditale Pohe (coconut, green chilies, kokum and tempered), and the Coconut milk and milk pohe. These preparations are so different from the traditional Maharashtra styled Pohe (still served in some household in the North of Goa) which have onion, turmeric, rai, chilies, coriander with sometimes roasted peanuts and green peas thrown in for good measure.

So give your child a treat, let the fireworks for the day begin. It is as healthy and appealing as food can get.

Power to the people

Breakfast is a meal strongly advocated for good health. 

The Goan Culinary Club has made it an agenda for this month. Yes starred hotels are promoting the concept of the ‘power breakfasts’ a good start to begin your day well, so we decided to explore this aspect in terms of our local  Goan food preparations… do we have preparations to start the day well? 

Ms Anita Salatry TV host and author was invited to share a few ‘old world’ preparations of the days of yore. And as co founder Odette Mascarenhas with her years of experience in the hotel industry remembered, the ‘power breakfasts’ at the Shamiana hotel in Mumbai Taj, she was intrigued to note that we Goans had our very own ‘power breakfasts’ designed in our ancestors kitchens.

So what do power breakfasts promote….high protein, sugar free and low carbohydrate menus’ through egg white omelets, muesli, skimmed milk yoghurt with sprouts, channa, lentils, lettuce, rock salt used in all preparations and steamed or roasted recipes.

Compare that to the recipes shared by Ms Salatry …Kandyachi bhakri (roasted on tawa great to maintain the cholesterol preparations), Ukdya Tandlache polle (nutritious – the unpolished rice giving great fiber content and vitamins), Gavanche polle (wheat dosa for minerals and vitamins), Nasnyache polle (nutritious and healthy), and sweets to like Tavsalli (cucumbers great for complexion and a natural cleaner), Purnachi nevri (stuffed with channa dal) high in protein and vitamin content. No sugar used...jaggery was king and coconut too.
And it was not only the Hindu Goan kitchens that made preparations so rich in health. 

Participation by Club members as Ms Sunita Rodrigues project director took over, gave note to the fact. Says Sylvester D’Souza of Sheela’s a well known Khanavat styled restaurant...’In our homes the same Tandullache Bhakri was made without using chilies or spices but with coconut shavings’. Chef Peter Fernandes of O Coqueiro spoke about his own recollection of a rich type of porridge made of Nacchni (millet).  So one could have a variety too – the polle or the porridge.

Where have all the preparations gone, are they slowly dying in the homes too? Our ancestors lived to a ripe old age often crossing the century mark, they were able to walk great distances and the doctors were rarely called on ‘visits’ – maybe the social ones only. Can our starred hotels recreate the richness of the past? The power that these breakfasts gave to the people… History has its own way of proving ‘lifestyles’ were right.
This meeting was graciously hosted by our Culinary member Hotel Fidalgo. The spread of goodies ranged from healthy old time breakfast fare to modern fried delicacies showcased by our members of the  Goan Culinary Club.