Saturday, 21 January 2012




     1)    Thin rice flakes (povu in Konkani, aval in Malayalam) – 250 gm.
     2)    Unsalted puffed rice (mudgo in Konkani and uppilatha pori in Malayalam) – 250 gm.
     3)    Thick raw cornflakes (jola láyi in Konkani, chola aval in Malayalam) – 150 gm.
     4)    Papad – 5 Nos.
     5)    Hot green chilies – 3 Nos.
     6)    Dry hot red chilies – 3 Nos.
     7)    Groundnuts/peanuts (without shells) – 150 gm.
     8)    Curry leaves – 5 sprigs
     9)    Cumin seeds – 1½ teaspoons
     10)     Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
     11)     Powdered salt – 1 heaped teaspoon
     12)     Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoons
     13)     Coconut oil (for the dish) – 2 tablespoons
     14)     Coconut oil (to deep fry) – about 100 ml.

To Make:

          Use a pair of scissors to cut the papads to fine long strips about half cm. to 1 cm. wide and around 6 cm. in length. Cut both types of chilies diagonally into thin long strips (the size can vary so long as the pieces are thin). Pluck the curry leaves from their sprigs and set aside.

          Set a small wok on high heat. Pour in around 100 ml. of coconut oil. As soon as the coconut oil is hot, tip in the peanuts. Stir till the peanuts are fried crisp. Lift out and drain off the excess oil. Now tip in the cornflakes in 2 or 3 batches (for they pop and expand as soon as they hit the oil). Lift out, drain and set aside.

          Now fry the papads likewise in 2 or 3 batches. You need to lift out the papad pieces quickly or they may burn and spoil the taste. Set aside and switch off the heat.

          Set a large, thick wok on high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish spluttering, tip in the cumin seeds. Stir once and tip in the chili pieces (both types). Stir and quickly put in the curry leaves, the powdered salt and the turmeric powder. Lower the heat and stir for 30 seconds.

          Now tip in the rice flakes, the puffed rice, the peanuts, the cornflakes, and the papads. Stir gently at short intervals on low heat till the ingredients are nicely roasted and crispy. Take care not to let the upkari burn at the base or the taste will be spoilt. It may take around 30 to 45 minutes or care to roast the upkari. Taste after 30 minutes to see if the upkari is crisp. Add more salt if your taste buds ask for it. Continue to stir at short intervals till the mixture is crisp. It must not be overdone (it should not turn brown) in order to be delicious.

          Switch off the heat and let cool naturally in the open wok. Once the pova upkari is cool, serve fresh or store in an airtight container for up to a month. Pova upkari is so crispy, crunchy, well-seasoned and yummy that people from all age groups fall in love with it.

          You can enjoy pova upkari as such or enjoy it all the more with a dressing of freshly grated coconut (on freshly prepared warm pova upkari).


     1)    In olden times, pova upkari was prepared with only povu (beaten rice/rice flakes) as the chief ingredient. Puffed rice and cornflakes were added later on by my grandmother, who lives in Kochi and prepares lots and lots of scrumptious pova upkari which she loves to send me and also to her seven surviving children, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. In fact, I learned to make such good pova upkari from eating hers from my childhood.

     2)    You can also make pova upkari by reducing, increasing or omitting any one or two of the chief ingredients other than rice flakes (if for instance, puffed rice or cornflakes are not available).

     3)    If unsalted puffed rice is not available, you can use salted puffed rice but remember to reduce the quantity of powdered salt.

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