Why Do We Have To Get So Nutty About This?

Poha
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This column has always asked, unflinching and steadfast in its quest for the Eternal Truth, Difficult Questions. And consider this an everlasting pact betwixt you and I, dear reader: this column will continue to raise issues that affect the human psyche forever more.

Cast your mind back to the time when we pondered the fundamental question of whether cold food can taste good (of course it can). Or whether sandwiches ought to have the crust removed (although in fairness that was a trifle unnecessary: obviously they should). And in similar vein, dear reader, I speak today of an issue that has riven humanity in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

Should, I ask today, peanuts be considered an integral part of a good plate of poha, or are you an individual of refined taste and sensibilities and consider the two to be like President Trump and civilization?

They simply shouldn’t, in other words, be allowed to come anywhere close to each other.

Peanuts aren’t, I rush to add, bad in and of themselves. A plate of sabudana khichadi without peanuts is like tennis without Wimbledon, for example. I yield to no one in my admiration for shengdanyachi chatni, and what would life be without the ole daane in the holy, sacred alu cha fadfada?

Peanuts have their role to play in heavenly food – I have nothing against peanuts.

But there are ways to use peanuts, and there are ways to ruin peanuts. Consider peanut butter, for example. Overhyped is an understatement. It does nothing for the palate in terms of taste or texture, and breakfasts the world over would benefit hugely were humanity to collectively pretend as if that abomination didn’t exist.

And so it is, I must sadly and firmly state, with peanuts in pohe.

A well made plate of poha must be soft and yielding in texture, slightly (but not overpoweringly!) sweet on the palate, and that tinge of sweetness must be offset by the acidity of tomatoes, and the gentle heat of a couple of chillies.

Bite, if you are looking for it, can be provided by onions that are just this side of translucent, and a plate of poha is uplifted to a whole new level when crowned with the holy trinity of freshly grated coconut, a twist of lemon and some chopped coriander.

I can live with peas in pohe, and I can live with potatoes. I can live without them as well, but I am a tolerant, fair-minded man, and to each, I say in a spirit of reasonableness, her own. I have heard tell of people putting prawns in pohe, and while I haven’t tried it myself, I applaud this spirit of innovation and ingenuity. I say all this to show that I am not a purist when it comes to a plate of pohe – it is not as if I cannot stand deviations from the script.

But peanuts? Pah. Not to mention pshaw, and poof.

Peanuts add unnecessary texture, they jar with the other flavour profiles, and they provide nothing that can remotely be described as a positive addition to a steaming plateful of poha. Poha must be sans peanuts, I say – and if I have to be intolerant of something, make it this.

One must, after all, reserve one’s small mindedness for the truly important stuff in life.

~~

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni

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