Tasty Tuesday: My Grandma’s Poha Bhataka


Poha Bhataka

Here’s another student recipe from High Tech High student, Shreena Bhakta. She shares her grandmother’s family recipe and story reflection.


  • 3 tablespoons of canola oil

  • 1/2 teaspoons of mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds

  • 1 large Idaho potato. Peeled and diced.

  • 1/2 a white onion. Peeled and diced.

  • 1 cloves of garlic

  • 2 serrano chiles

  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice

  • 2 poha (flattened rice. Washed and drained.


  1. First, we are going to put oil in a large, non-stick skillet, on medium heat.

  2. Second, we add mustard seed into the pan. Wait for them to sizzle and pop.

  3. Third, you add the cumin seeds.

  4. Then, we are going to add the diced potatoes, cover and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.

  5. After, you check if you potatoes are cooked through by cutting through some of the chunks.

  6. Next, we are going to add the onion, crushed garlic, and finely chopped serrano chiles

  7. Then, you add turmeric, salt, and lemon juice. Cook for an additional 5 minutes with your pan covered, stirring occasionally.

  8. Meanwhile, we are going to wash and drain the poha in hot water.

  9. Lastly, you add the poha to the pan. Stir thoroughly and lower the heat to low.

  10. We cook the poha for 8-10 minutes until it has heated through completely.

  11. Enjoy!

    Shreena’s Family Reflection

    I live the typical life of a West Coast high schooler: I go to school, I drink Starbucks and say, “You guys,” all the time, and I occasionally go to the beach. I have had an easy life without struggles, because I have been given everything. For some, like many of the members in my family, they didn’t have the same opportunities as me and had to work through the challenges to be where they are now. I recently sat down with my paternal grandmother, Kanchanben Bhakta, to learn about her life: the struggles and opportunities. 

    My grandmother grew up in a small village in Syadla, India with her large family of 8. Neighbors led their cows and buffalos as they wandered through the windy roads, younger children laughed and played while the teenagers began every morning with their extensive journeys to school. There were fathers farming in the fields, gathering crops to later feed to their families. Women stayed at home, raising the kids and completing their motherly duties. Kanchanben was a typical village girl, going to school everyday, and then coming home to play with her friends and siblings without a care in the world. Once in a while, she used to watch her mother, Bhikhiben, cook for the family. My grandmother learned to cook an abundance of traditional dishes, from a variety of vegetable and lentil soups, to different vegetable dishes. She carried her knowledge of cooking, this passion for cooking, and this love for cooking with her all throughout her life. 

    When she was older, Kanchanben left for college. My grandmother was set on becoming a professor, to teach Gujarati or Sanskrit. When she wasn’t hard at work, she was with her friends. They would sit at one particular table and enjoy Poha Bataka, a dish that brought her back to those memories from home. She created special memories with her friends. But, she never expected what would happen next. 

    Word from home came saying that she was to go with her brother to Detroit, and later get an arranged marriage to Mohanbhai, my grandfather, in San Francisco. Her dreams of becoming a professor were long gone. Her college years, and the memories she created there, were over. She would never see her friends again; never enjoy Poha Bataka with them again. She would have to go to a new country, with a new culture and a new language, and suddenly adjust to that and being married to a man she had 

    never even met before. She didn’t have a choice, so she went. She left her studies behind and never looked back. 

    When she got married and finally settled down with Mohanbhai in San Diego, they found themselves in the hotel business. They had three children and raised them in the hotel. Life for Kanchanben has been the same since. Her children went off to start their own lives and she continued living with her husband, taking care of Pacifica Hotel. 

    When she finished explaining her story, I was shocked. I had no idea she was studying to become a professor when her life turned upside down. I knew the same thing happened to my mom, being forced to leave school to be married. I had no idea that she cherished the time spent with her friends in college eating a dish as simple as Poha Bataka. Because of her memories with the dish, I too, wanted to make new memories with the people that I love. Love is the roots of this dish, of all the dishes my family makes - all of the choices they make, as well. 

    All of this new knowledge explains the reasoning behind her choices, as well as the rest of my family’s. I finally understand why they push me and my sister in school, why they push us to take the opportunities given to us, why they push us to be the people we are. Because they weren’t able to. They had to work hard and make sacrifices to have the life they have now, and to give us the lives we have now. I know now that they are not trying to force us to work all the time, but they are trying to make sure we have a bright future. I know those demands are coming from a good place. 

    From learning about her story coupled with my previous knowledge of my mother’s story, I want to keep making the most out of what I have. I tend to skip over how grateful I am to live in a structurally sound house, to have a nice bed to sleep on, to have delicious food on my plate, and to have an incredible education. I realized that so many kids my age don’t have the things that I have now, and many of my family members used to be those kids. 

    I hope that in the future, I can my make family proud, make my friends proud, but I hope that most of all, I can make myself proud.