Today, I give the recipe of a slightly modified version of a dish I grew up with — Rava Upma. Traditionally made with semolina (rava) and vegetables, this comforting dish is a staple in South Indian households. While the recipe I give departs slightly from the authentic from time to time, I can confidently say that it unmistakably tastes like a really good upma. In fact if I may dare say, it is better than the semolina version because bulgar wheat has a nutty flavor, a delightful texture and nutritional value that is off the charts.
Bulgur wheat, a cereal made by cracking steamed and toasted whole wheat kernels, makes an excellent base for upma because it comes really close and even manages to upstage the cracked wheat upma that the health conscious eat in India. Cracked wheat, a cracked whole wheat cereal made from raw whole wheat, is also often used as a rice substitute by diabetic patients in India.
Here’s the recipe for the moist and well-spiced bulgar upma that I just made. I will also give you tips on how to jazz up the upma South Indian style. Hope you guys enjoy it!
About five tablespoons of canola oil, three and a half cups of cooked bulgur wheat, two small onions, one and a half-inch cube of grated / crushed ginger, three medium-sized tomatoes, three slender carrots, a handful of peas, two handfuls of baby spinach leaves, a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), salt and red chili powder.
Optional ingredients (Add a more distinct South Indian flair):
A pinch of cumin seeds, a pinch of mustard seeds, a dash of turmeric, a handful of curry leaves and raw peanuts or cashew nuts. You can also add vegetables such as chopped cauliflower, green beans or bell peppers. To gourmet it up, you could add cooked chickpeas in place of nuts. If decadence is what you are in the mood for, add a spoonful butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter).
Method of preparation:
Chop the onions fine and coat a skillet with oil and heat on a medium flame. Add in a dash mustard, cumin seeds and a handful of chopped cashews or whole peanuts if you like. Once they splutter a little and the nuts roast, add in the curry leaves. Once an aroma develops, add the chopped onions and ginger, and let them cook till they brown slightly. While the onions cook, peel and chop the carrots and cut the tomatoes.
When the onions slightly brown, add in the carrots and stir. After a minute or so, add in the tomato pieces and peas. Let the vegetables cook till the tomatoes become soft and ooze some juice. Once this happens, add one and a quarter tablespoon of red chili powder, a pinch of turmeric and a tablespoon and a half of salt. Mix and add in the cooked bulgur. Stir and let it cook over a low flame. Add in the baby spinach leaves and coriander leaves (cilantro), mix and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the baby spinach leaves become tender, turn off the heat. Taste and adjust for salt and spice.
Serve hot with low-fat yogurt.