Chooda matar or chiwda matar is basically a Banaras version of pohe. A winter treat with fresh green peas and the new crop of paddy made into flattened rice that is called Chiwda or chooda in the region is concocted into a spicy warm breakfast that I believe is the best cereal breakfast ever. Warm, savory and refreshing flavors of winters. Chooda matar is very much a homely dish, taken up well by some street food joints (chaat bhandars)in the city as well. I remember Kashi chaat bhandar for it's chooda matar that is literally soaked in ghee, but very warming flavors of garam masala coming through. I liked this combination of sweet green peas, hot garam masala and aromatic ghee in this dish.
Though I was not a street food lover as a youngster, somehow in my research days got hooked to the various snacks available in the famous joints there, the Kashi chat bhandar at godolia, the Monga's, the Ayyar's cafe, and not to forget the chatwala at sankat mochan mor, or the kulfi faluda and lassi of the Bansfatak area where I used to go with madam, Dr Maya Goyle (my research guide)...............so many things to be nostalgic about..........
This garam masala, milk and ghee laden chooda matar is miles away from the aalu poha or kanda poha of Maharashtra, it is available in the winters in all the chaat bhandars of the city and is loaded with desi ghee. I make it lighter at home and according to my taste buds, as a favorite winter breakfast on weekends or an evening tea accompaniment on weekdays, but we have to skip dinner after that. It is a full meal when you have a large portion. Just like a tehri or pulav.
Good quality pohe or chiwra is essential for making chooda matar, Basmati or Govidbhog chiwra makes the best. I remember when we were in Dhanbad, the fragrant Govindbhog chiwra was available there, a short grained rice made flatten rice in the season, that was the ultimate for chiwda matar. Here in Delhi I make it with Basmati chiwda and it turns out good.
thick variety of chiwra/pohe/flattened rice flakes 1.5 cup
peas 2 cup
cumin seds/sabut jeera 2 tsp
ginger 2 inch piece, finely chopped
green chillies 4 finely chopped
green coriander 1 cup, finely chopped, stems and leaves separated
lemon juice 3 tbsp/lime juice 1 tbsp or to taste
sugar 1-2 tsp depending on how fresh are the peas
black pepper powder 1 tsp
garam masala powder 1.5 tsp[without coriander powder]
salt to taste
milk 1/2 cup
cream 1/2 cup[optional]
ghee 2 tbsp
Rinse the chiwra through a strainer, drain well and soak in milk and cream for 10 minutes [less if it is finer].
Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin/jeera into it, add in the ginger and green chilies when the jeera crackles,after a few seconds add in the powder masalas. Stir and immediately add in the peas with sugar and salt, stir, add the coriander stems and add 1/2 cup of water and cook covered on medium heat until the peas are done. Open the pan, there should be still some water left, add in the soaked chiwda and mix well, fluffing it up.
I sometimes add the finely chopped stems of coriander leaves at this stage n after mixing cook it covered on low flame for 3-4 minutes. This collage shows all the steps in the making of chooda matar.
Add the coriander leaves and lime juice..mix well and serve garnished with fried dry fruits, which I seldom do. You would see loads of raisins and fried cashews in the chaat bhandar versions, at home we like the green peas shining more in our chooda matar.
It is loaded with a strong aroma of green coriander and garam masala, There is heat owing to a lot of ginger, black pepper powder and green chilies too, balanced by lime juice if you use. I avoid lime juice mostly as I like the stems of coriander greens to impart their earthy citrusy flavor more.
Truly a winter food. Have it with a hot mug of masala chai and your day is bliss.
Just dig in...