Instant poha (JUST ADD HOT WATER) is the perfect meal in a jar option to all the busy people out there who are looking for quick meal options but do not want to compromise on taste or health with the commercial products available.

Instant Poha - Just add hot water

Life is getting busier. My brother is getting hitched! Yay!  Now, this does open up the Pandoras box of emotions for me. It makes me happy, sad, confused, and protective and many more things, all at the same time. But, I am not going to be talking about any of that since I am not paying to guys to play therapist 😛 Jokes aside, this news entails a trip home! The happiest news, right? 🙂

Indian Spices

Since I intend to take a nice long vacation for myself, I am planning for things such that I do not leave you my readers or my sweet husband scouring for food/recipes! While making a list of few things that I can do to make things just a tad easier for Nachiket while I am away, I remembered this instant poha mom used to carry with her on long train journeys in India.

Lunch in a jar

While there is no dearth of foods that please your Indian palate all over the country, there is sure a dearth of hygienic food in some places, especially if you were travelling by trains 10 years ago. Owing to this and mom’s numerous religious food fasts partaken, their 2-3 week-long trips were always marked with big bags filled with numerous such instant meals and snacks. Advantage kids: these bags always came back home filled with presents for us (lots of free space!) 🙂 Who’s complaining about it?

 Instant Poha

Now, I did not complain about it back then since bigger bags meant more gifts and I do not complain about it now because if not for those big bags and mom’s ideas, my morning rush would have never been taken care of! Instant Poha can be the perfect meal in ajar because:

  1. It gets done almost as instantly as any other cereal. You JUST ADD HOT WATER (Read my take section for using cold water) and let it rest.
  2.  Unlike the commercially available cereal, this is not sugar laden. In fact, it is very nutritious and has good protein content too.
  3.  Unlike regular cereal, this is very filling and can even replace lunch  or any other meal (not only breakfast)
  4.  No preservatives, home-made and you can control what exactly goes in!
  5. Travel-friendly of course (My story started with how my mom used it for travel)

There’s a little more information about Instant poha that you can read in the “My Take” section.

Lunch in a jar

Here is the recipe for your meal in a jar,

Instant Poha


Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6-8 servings



  • 4 cups thick Poha (Flattened Rice cereal)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3-5 chopped green chilies
  • 2-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp urad dal (split black lentils)
  • Salt to season
  • 2 tbsp oil


  1. Heat up the oil in a pan.
  2. Add mustard seeds into the oil. Once they crackle, add urad dal.
  3. Once the lentils (urad dal) starts to turn golden, add the cumin seeds, green chilies and roughly torn curry leaves.
  4. After about a min, add turmeric and salt and mix well.
  5. Turn the heat to low, add the thick poha. Mix well.
  6. Transfer into an airtight containers and store.
  7. Add some grated carrots and frozen peas and store in the refrigerator overnight. Carrots and peas are for additional taste and nutrition. Poha can be eaten without these too.
  8. Grab and go for your lunch or breakfast.
  9. When ready to eat, just add hot water. The level of the water should be about 1/2 cm above the level of the poha. Cover and let rest for 10-12 min or until poha is soft to touch.
  10. Fluff it up with a fork and eat from the jar or transfer to a bowl.

My Take:

Instead of carrots, you can also add slaw and sprouts from a bag. Cabbage and lettuce need no cooking and can help you cut prep time even further in the morning.

Usually made with onions and potatoes, you could also make instant poha by adding pre-boiled potatoes.

Instant poha can be made by adding water at room temperature too. It might take longer to soften up.

Yummily Yours'


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  1. Such a wonderful idea…This is going to be my meal for this Fall…I have a busy schedule at the university and morning labs to monitor…Thanks a lot…

  2. What a beautiful idea… Did I say an idea? Well, the clicks are strikingly beautiful then! Moms are great always… I absolutely can’t think of making this by myself 😛 Enjoyed reading ur entire post, dear!!!

  3. It is definitely one for Life hacks wall of fame!

  4. We always wash po ha before cooking. ..isn’t it harmful to use it without washing…

    • If you use clean Poha,there is no cause for concern, Harneet. Branded ones are usually v clean. My mom has been making this for years now and all has been well. If you are using poha from a local vendor, sieve it once and you are good to go.

  5. I love it. Will try it as soon as I go on a day trip, so any day now!

  6. Love this idea – would be nice if it can kept for week and used on long drives:) Thanks for sharing.

  7. Beautifully presented and precise recipe:)

  8. Very nice!!! I am sure gonna try this one!!!

  9. Thanks for the lovely recipe..Is it necessary to keep the jar in the fridge? I mean can I make it at night and just add the hot water in the morning? Plz help…

    • Hey Varsha! If you add the veggies at night, you have to put it in fridge. If you add the veggies in the morning or skip the veggies, no need to refrigerate .. Hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂

  10. Is it necessary to keep in jar? I mean can I put it in air tight zipper?

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  12. My kids love poha. I couldn’t have imagined it as travel food. Thanks wonderful tips! Love it

  13. Wow this is awesome. Do you think I could take this on a train and just add the hot water when I am ready to eat it? I have a 9 hour train ride with my gf and we want to find stuff we can eat where we won’t need a microwave or a refrigerator. Do you think these ingredients would last a few hours not being in the fridge?

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  15. when I read (INSTANT POHA | MEAL IN A JAR) recipe. I like it. this recipe’s method is very simple.
    I will make at home. I think it is a very tasty.

  16. I don’t usually post comments… but couldn’t help on this amazing post. Poha is my all time favorite and your tip is awesome. Any ideas on similar recipes with rolled oats?

  17. Devashree Sanghvi

    Hey! How long do these stay for in zip locks without the veggies? Planning to take them to Europe in the long flight. Will they stay for 4-5 days?

    • Definitely! Mymom has carried for our vacation for about a month. Upto two months should not be a problem. Beyond that, the oil MIGHT start getting old.

  18. Hey I am indebted to you.Poha and Tuwar Daal fry are the only things i miss in food while away from India and with Poha, even while away from home in India coz I dont like market ka poha.

    Fantastic Idea. Kudos

    • Oh My! Those are some big words but I totally get you. Living away from home can be very difficult. I am happy I could make it better for you, even by a small amount. Thank you for the comment Aakash 🙂

  19. What an incredible idea. .I want to ask u that does the poha need to be soaked and then added to the cumin etc mix or its dry poha as the comes in the packet
    also if one adds room temp water then how will the peas etc soften. ..wouldn’t it be raw? Pls clarify

    • Thank you Pooja 🙂 The Poha is not soaked prior to adding the cumin etc. It is used straight from the packet. The peas used are steam-able peas (from the frozen section) and not fresh peas. So, the hot water is enough heat to steam the peas as well as shredded carrots.


  21. What an amazing idea!! I am going to try this for sure..first time visiting your blog and loved it.

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  23. Hey Prash! I absolutely love this idea – full marks for creativity!

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  25. This is perfect for a quick lunch! I love the facts that you can create such a flavor one dish meal with such simple steps. And these veggies look so colorful and delicious 🙂

  26. Wow, thats an awesome recipe during travel. But will it be good without refrigeration (as we added carrots and peas) for two days as i’m taking flight,then car. And, will peas soften if i use room temperature water?

    • Hey Poornima, if you are adding veggies, it has to be refrigerated. Else, you cannot add them. Frozen peas will soften with hot water.

  27. Where do you buy poha and split black lentils?

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  29. Hi,
    I was just wondering how to go about the veggies if I have to courier it abroad. I can’t add the veggies then right?
    Also, how long does this last for? Can you keep it for a long time or do you have to eat it soon?

    • No, veggies will last only one night that too when refrigerated. without veggies, the poha will stay fresh in an airtight container for more a couple of months.

  30. Where can I buy the poha?

  31. Nevermind my question about where to buy. I just saw that you already answered a post with the same question 🙂


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  33. Super. Just wanna know how long it will stay fresh. Is it good to carry for a week long road trip.

  34. Do the peas n carrots need to be steamed a bit?

    • If using fresh peas, then yes. Steamable frozen peas and finely grated carrots get cooked enough in the hot water.

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