Upma

Note: upma is often made with different vegetables like potatoes, green pepper, onions, grated carrot, peas, lima beans or tomatoes. You can also add nuts like cashews to the mix.

1 cup sooji or cream of wheat (semolina)
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons oil (corn, peanut or sunflower is best)
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
1 teaspoon channa dal
4 fresh curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon, grated ginger
2 green chillies
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 potato, small cubes
3 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
cilantro for garnish

In a wok, heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add 1 cup of cream of wheat or sooji and fry on low to medium heat until it is light brown. Mix the sooji around so that is gets processed evenly. This will take about 5 minutes or so. Turn off the heat and put the sooji aside on a plate.

In the wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add in your black mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal and turn the heat to medium. When the dal turns golden and the black mustard seeds are popping, add in the curry leaves, grated ginger and green chillies. Mix around well for a few seconds and then add in your chopped onion, green pepper and turmeric powder. Mix it well and after 2 minutes mix in the potato cubes and salt. When the potatoes are cooked, add in the water and bring to a boil.

Similar to making polenta, lower the flame and add in the roasted sooji little by little stirring all the while so you don’t get lumps. Add in the coconut and continue to stir for 4-5 minutes while its simmering until the water is absorbed and the sooji is cooked. (During this process if it’s looking dry, add a bit more water.) Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with plain yogurt or a nice pat of butter and chutney pudi or anything spicy!

*If you want to serve as a mold, just pack upma in a katori (Indian stainless steel bowl) or ramekin and turn upside down on a plate.

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