Flattened rice (aka “poha”) is exactly that: rice that has literally been flattened.
To make it at home, the rice is soaked overnight in water, then flattened, then dried. To make it commercially, the rice is threshed, then soaked, roasted, then hulled and polished, then rolled to make it flat, then sieved and dried.
It can be bought at Indian grocery stores, in thick or thin form. In some dishes, you prefer the thick, because the thin can become mooshy and affect the look and texture.
It can be:
- used to make sweets;
- used as a cereal with some sweetener and lime juice for invalids;
- used for tamarind bhath, uppuma, sweet pongal, sweet gravy;
- fried in oil to make the snack called “cheerey-bhaja.” It soaks up a lot of oil. When fried, it can be used flavoured, for instance with red pepper powder.
You rehydrate it by letting it stand in water for a few minutes.
In India, flattened rice is called “poha.”
In Bengali, flattened rice is called “chirey” or “chira” (sometimes spelled “cheera” or “cheerey” in English). In Tamil, it’s called “aval” (sometimes spelled “awal” in English.)
Orejas, Tonette. ‘Duman’ fest honors women farmers. Manila: Philippine Daily Inquirer. 3 December 2003.