Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Chaos in the Kitchen" Challenge #3: Upma

Well it looks like I am heading east for today's cooking challenge with an Indian dish called "upma". As I said before, my neighbor showed me how to make it. She said that in India, it is traditionally served at breakfast, but she often eats it for lunch or as a snack. I think this would be a great lunch or even dinner side dish. It is quick and easy to make and it super healthy! It took me two tries to make, and a little tweaking of the recipe, but I think I've come pretty close to what she makes! (I am missing one ingredient and this is a homemade yogurt that she used. It's not like anything in the stores so I didn't want to substitute. It is optional though, so I just made mine without.) Anyhow, here is the recipe with a crazy close-up picture. (I didn't have time to plate well and then take a pic, sorry! Hopefully I'll have better food pics in the future!)

Oh, here are some special notes about the recipe, in case you want to try it: (1) Use a heavy-bottom pot. My enameled cast iron pot was perfect. If I had used my stainless steel, it would have totally stuck or burned to the bottom I think. (2) This recipe calls for an ingredient called Sooji which is Indian cream of wheat. It is very different from the cream of wheat you get in a box here in the U.S. My neighbor said not to use the American stuff -- it just doesn't work in this recipe. In fact, all of the ingredients with a * I got at a local Indian food store. (3) If you do have Indian homemade yogurt, use 1 cup and add it the same time you add the 2 cups of water. Okay, here we go!

-2-3 Tablespoons oil (I used vegetable oil)
-2 cups water
-1 cup Sooji* (Indian cream of wheat)
-2 small onions, finely diced
-1 green chili pepper, seeded and minced
-3/4 to 1 cup frozen vegetable mix (or other veggies if you prefer those)
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/2 cup cashews
-1/2 Tablespoon black mustard seeds*
-1 Tablespoon cumin seeds* (much cheaper at Indian food store!)
-1 Tablespoon (more or less to taste) lemon juice
-1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
-salt to taste (about 1/2 Tablespoon)


1) Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Drop in mustard seeds and cumin seeds. They should be sizzling. Stir for a few minutes, allowing to brown.

2) Add sooji. Toast with seeds and oil for a few minutes.

3) Add diced onions, saute for a few minutes. Add a little more oil if needed.

4) Add frozen mixed veggies and chili pepper. Stir. Add salt and lemon juice. Stir and saute everything 2-3 minutes.

5) Add cashews and raisins. Stir to combine.

6) Add the 2 cups of water and stir. (Water should reach boiling very quickly.) Turn heat to medium-low, cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

7) Uncover. Turn heat to low and stir until any remaining water is absorbed or evaporated and veggies are cooked. (Mine were done pretty much when I took the cover off.) Scrape sides and bottom of pot if needed. Add cilantro, stir to combine and serve!

Now remember, the recipe I have written is just based off watching my neighbor cook it and trying it myself. The measurements are fairly general and can be adjusted based on your preferences (more/less veggies, more/less salt, etc.) There are also TONS of variations! I hope you give it a try!

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