We have been away on a short trip early this week. To visit the Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala, Tirupati. The richest God in India for many decades until quite recently when the secret treasure of Lord Padmanabhaswamy was unearthed. The train trip to another city meant no cooking for three whole days and eating lots of the South Indian breakfast items not just for breakfast but for lunch and dinner too. I love south Indian breakfast items. As much as i love rice, i can go without it for days if you feed me poori, dosa, upma, idly and variations of them and not necessarily in that order. You would think three days of eating them would be enough for anybody. Oh no, not me. It left me longing for more. So much that i woke up this morning with a craving for a hot breakfast. And served in bed, preferably. OK, who am i kidding. That's not going to happen anytime soon.
At home, i am usually the only person who wants substantial breakfast in the morning; the husband is content with a glass of juice, freshly squeezed or even some from the carton. And to get away with being lazy, i am usually happy with cereal and milk or bread and jam/chocolate peanut spread. Three days of eating out got me addicted to hot breakfasts, now who would come cook for me?
When faced with this particular problem, whats the quickest way out? Making upma at home of course, especially when the husband doesn't need breakfast and can't be bothered to chauffeur you around to the nearest breakfast serving restaurant. If you ever get yourself into this situation, here's what you can prepare in a jiffy.
Ingredients for Upma
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 2 green chilies, sliced or according to taste
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 8-10 cashew nuts
- 1 cup rava/ semolina/ sooji
- 2 1/2 cups water
- salt to taste
Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. You can substitute oil with ghee (clarified butter) if you are dairy people, we are mostly dairy-free. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the sliced chilies, cashew nuts and chopped ginger. Saute for a minute. Add the onion and curry leaves and fry for about 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent. Add the chopped tomato and stir. Cook with lid closed for about a minute until the tomato softens. Add the water.
(Use two and a half cups of water per cup of semolina). Season with salt and adjust based on a taste test. Allow the water to boil. Now add the semolina slowly with one hand, while stirring simultaneously with your other hand to avoid forming lumps. Allow to cook for a minute on medium heat, still stirring, until the semolina is cooked. Delicious south Indian rava upma is ready. You can serve with a chutney or a sprinkling of fresh chopped coriander or simply with lime wedges.
La's tips: The water should be slightly salty before adding the semolina or else the end product will be bland. This was a tip mom would continually remind me, during those days when all i did was stand next to her checking when breakfast would be ready.