Walk Down The Memory Lane with A Traditional Bengali Snack Chirer (Flaked Rice) Polao

An old family photo!
Our home was a bustling place. With all the varied members of a medium sized joint family residing within its folds, the poor house did not have much choice!

Families of three brothers (my grandfather's and his two brothers') stayed together in our sprawling house. In 1970s India, families believed in staying together and the great Indian joint family was very much the norm.

My grandfather had two more brothers, one lived in another city. So he and his family would come to spend the summer holidays with us. During the summer vacations the house would be bursting at seams. But for me it was a treat. Mostly my mother was too busy to notice what I was upto. Also it meant more uncles and aunts to pamper me!

The ladies dressed up in lovely saris for some occasion!
My mother keeps reminiscing about those happy days, soon after her marriage. She got married when she was just eighteen years old. She says when she joined the family, most of her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law were still living at home.These are all my father's cousins. Most of them were still in college. My mother was studying herself. Soon they were fast friends, hanging out together, going for shopping, movies, eating street food on the sly.

There was always something or the other happening in the family. There were the usual birthdays, marriage anniversaries, celebration of various festivals, picnics, day trips and summer trips. Apart from these, there were impromptu chats (adda) happening all over the house, in the balcony, the staircase, the kitchen, the roof. There was never any fixed time...sometimes late at night, other times during the afternoon. All it needed was for my mother and a couple of my aunts to gather. Their laughter would resonate throughout the house. Often the uncles joined in, teasing them mercilessly, but that did not faze them. My family was also pretty active culturally, they were always singing, acting in plays, dancing, painting, stitching or knitting.

A recipe which was popular during those days. Chire or Flaked Rice is one of the many derivations of rice. Other popular one being Puffed Rice with which the rice cakes are made. Flaked rice is popular in many parts of India. It is used to make Poha in northern and western India. Presenting to you the Bengali version Chirer Polao. This is my mother's recipe. This is different from other versions because it is sweeter in taste, filled with seasonal vegetables.

Like I mentioned in the 'About Me' section I am a ghoti, originally from the western part of Bengal. The speciality of our food is that all our savoury dishes have sugar/jaggery. We believe that a little sweet fine tunes the savouriness of a dish and brings in a better balance. This dish is a classic example of this tradition of cooking.

As a child I remember eating this snack mostly during winters. My mother loves making it in winter so that she can add all the winter veggies like carrots, green beans, peas and cauliflowers.

This is served for breakfast or a late afternoon snack to the children after they return from their schools. Also served to guests as snack.

What You Need For The Recipe:

i. 2 cups of flaked rice

ii. Whole garam masalas-- 2/3 whole peppers, 2/3 cloves,
 2/3 cardamoms, 1 inch of cinnamon bark 
and a couple of bay leaves, slightly crushed
iii. Handful of cashew nuts and raisins. 
Soak the raisins in a little water to fluff them up

iv. Seasonal vegetables like carrots, green beans, cauliflower
 (one fourth of a large one), chopped as shown in the picture
Half a cup of peas

v. One medium potato chopped
vi. One medium onion chopped
vii. A couple of green chillies, 
snapped in the middle
viii. Half a tea spoon of garam masala powder
ix. One tea spoon of sugar
x. Salt to taste
xi. Half a tea spoon of ghee/ clarified butter (I skip this)
xii. Chopped coriander to garnish
xiii. I almost forgot, 2 tea spoons of oil,
vegetable or sunflower

How To Make This Dish:

Wash the flaked rice and drain the excess moisture. In a pan, heat the oil, add the whole garam masalas and the potato cubes. Fry till the potato pieces turn light brown, add the onions and fry till the onions turn light brown, by now the potatoes should be turning golden/darker brown. Now add the rest of the seasonal veggies and the cashew nuts and fry for 2 to 3 minutes more. 

The vegetables frying
Add the salt which will help to soften the veggies. After this add the drained flaked rice and mix everything well. Put the lid on and let it cook on low medium heat for a couple of minutes. If it becomes too dry add a few drops of water. Stir occasionally. 
Flaked rice cooking with the veggies

Once everything is cooked, the flaked rice should be fluffed up and soft, the potato cooked and the vegetables should have a little crunch still left in them, remove from heat. Sprinkle the garam masala powder and the sugar. Mix again thoroughly. The sugar will melt in the heat. Do not add sugar before the flaked rice is cooked, since that will hamper the flaked rice from softening. You can add the optional ghee/clarified butter at this stage. Sprinkle the fluffed raisins. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
At this stage your house will smell of garam masala, ghee and all things nice :-)

 Enjoy your chirer polao with gorom cha (hot tea)!


  1. Wow Suchi, a great post, loved everything about it, the old pictures to the yummy pulao, nice of you to share with us dear..

    just had dinner,, am hungry again..
    send me a parcel plz :D :D

  3. That dish looks really delicious ! Love all the flavor and texture in that yummy dish ;D The flaked rice sounds interesting ::)

  4. What neat family memories. I've never heard of or seen flat rice, but with all these yummy ingredients added, I know I'd love a bowl for myself!

  5. hi suchi...thanks a bunch for dropping by my blog. Its always a pleasure to meet a fellow Londonite who is also a food blogger. You do have a fab space here..keep in touch :)

  6. What a wonderful post!I have never heard of flaked rice before but this looks delish!

  7. Lovely post Suchi. Easy and tempting polao.

  8. Suchi, this is a great dish, I love it. As soon as I can eat normal food (I had a dental procedure today and can only eat soft food for a while)< I am making it. All those ingredients looks so healthy and delicious!

  9. wonderful post and delicious dish..one award is waiting for you in my space..do drop by and receive it dear!! :)
    Versatile Blogger Award
    Kande Pohe

  10. wonder full and delicious recipe..this is new to me

  11. It must be so much fun to be a part of joint family right...have always been part of a nuclear family but married into a not technically joint but a bigger nuclear family :)..loved the post & the dish

  12. So wholesome and delicious with all the goodness of veggies :) love this - I make many of my dishes like this and I am sure I will love this :)

  13. Lovely and delicious!A great way of bringing back memories through food!

  14. This dish looks amazing--I have never seen anything quite like it. I love the inclusion of the family photos!

  15. That dish looks really yummy n delicious !

  16. sounds new & very interesting...great recipe..
    your family pics & togetherness sounds divine..;)
    Tasty Appetite

  17. Wonderful walk down the memory lane -- I used to live in a joint family growing up. Those memories holds a special place in my heart :)

    This recipe has a similarity to North Indian's famous snack (poha). I don't know if you've heard about it :)

  18. lovely story of your childhood days,loved reading it and loved the pixs!
    i love food i.e savory with a hint of sweet in it, i agree it does balance out the flavors.

  19. Hello. Not sure if the last comment was saved.

  20. lovely post, so nice to read...dish looks delicious...

    Join the Just "4" Fun event :)

  21. Oh My God!! This is an awesome recipe!! I'm trying it right away.. :) Thanks Miss :)

  22. Very tempting veggie poha, sounds so delicious n yummy.

  23. Lovely memories, Suchi. And I'm intrigued by your palao. Looks mouthwatering though, need to give it a try!

  24. mmmm....looks good! ...will try shortly...amitaag.blogspot.com

  25. An amazing post, and a super delicious dish. Loved the step-by-step photo directions!

  26. Chirer Pulao as I know it ..looks so delicious Suchi ..and being ghoti I can so very relate to joint family you wrote about..mine was not different either..such wonderful memories..pity our children wont know how or what enjoyment these adda sessions/summer vacation meant for us :-)..hugs and smiles

  27. Indians are so similar to Sicilians. We believe that in families the more we are the better it is. And what lovely saris...so elegant

  28. first time here ...glad to follow you ... very yummy and healthy snack

  29. Hey Suchi,
    Here's another eager Ghoti joining in the chime:) Loved reading your post so much!Mine was not a joint family but it would resemble one when all of us would assemble at one place during the 'Goromer chhuti'!What fun it would be and just like your Mom, mine would be tied with so much on her hands that I could be left to do whatever I willed;)Miss those childhood days and rue the fact that today's childhood no longer carries the same definition.Lovely post, lovely chire and lovely memories:)


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