Friday, January 26, 2007


(More Friday Food Blogging).

Upama (also spelled as Upma) is South Indian comfort food, a spiced and fried porridge. Like most comfort food, there are uncountable of variations possible, in the type of cereal used, in the spices, or in accompanying vegetables or toppings. I like it best with wheat (oatmeal, rice, buckwheat, bread, and vermicelli are also popular), without turmeric, with the bottom a bit brown and crispy, and served with lime pickle and yoghurt as condiments. I first had upama in grad school, when I shared a house with the vina player and scholar K.S. Subramanian, who turned out to be an extraordinary cooking teacher.


1 cup semolina (cream of wheat)
2 cups hot water
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 tsp. urad dal
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
(optional: ¼ coconut, grated, or 1/2 cup shelled peas)
10 curry leaves
2 tbsps oil
1 handful roasted cashews
salt to taste

1. Heat the oil.
2. Throw in the mustard seeds.
2. When the mustard seeds begin to dance, add the urad dal and curry leaves.
3. Add the onion and green chillies.
4. Fry till the onion is translucent.
5. Add the semolina and fry it till it is light brown.
6. Add the hot water and salt. Stir just enough to distribute the water. Cook on low heat.
7. When all the water has been absorbed and the bottom has begun to crisp, add the coconut or the peas, mix well, top with cashews, and perhaps some fresh coriander, and serve.

Subramanian liked to give the dish a squeeze of lemon, sometimes I throw some fenugreek seeds or leaves into the mix. I always eat it with lime pickle* and plain yoghurt.
* Lime pickle is great stuff. You can make it yourself or buy it off the shelf in various degrees of spicy-hotness. I wouldn't dare do it myself, but I have it on good authority that some folks eat peanut butter and lime pickle sandwiches.

No comments: