Many people look down upon the lowly uppuma. I myself am very fond of this dish perhaps because of the wonderful flavors and textures of the uppuma my grandmother or my aunt would make. My grandmother made the best lemon/ ginger rawa uppuma. My aunt Vijaya’s rice uppuma with its roasted browned crust is still something to remember. As kids we would clamor for the roasted bits from the bottom of the cast iron wok.
In my early years in the US it was some months before I discovered that the Semolina sold in the cereal aisle was really rawa and discovered I could make uppuma. I tentatively tried it out. “Oh Frabjous day Callooh and Callay” I cried. And I really did shed a tear of joy at having found something familiar to eat. Over the years it has evolved and morphed into a vegetable uppuma made with whatever is available in the kitchen that day. Ideally, some onion and carrots and tomatoes and fresh lemon on lime juice are the mainstay. Often, like today, it is a quick dish made for a good friend who drops in unexpectedly to share a meal.
Vegetable Uppuma with Bread
All I had for vegetables were a bit of cucumber, some petite carrots, a few cherry tomatoes a potato, and some red pepper and some limes and three slices of stale bread. So uppuma it had to be. Served with lime pickles and plain yogurt.
Coarse Semolina (rawa) – 1 1/2 cups
Canola Oil – 3 tbs
Ghee – 2 tsp
Chopped potato – 1
Chopped cucumber cubes – 1/2 cup
Petite carrots – 6 – 8
Chopped red or green pepper – 1/2 cup
Cherry tomatoes – 6
Fresh lime juice – 2 tbs
Black mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Chana Dal Rinsed – 1 tbs
Raw cashew halves (optional) – 1/4 cup
Turmeric Powder (optional) – 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) – 1/4 tsp
Hot Water – 3 1/2 cups
Fresh cilantro – garnish
Red Chili – 1 or 2
Fresh ginger minced (optional) – 1/2 tsp
Green chilies, minced – 2-3
Salt – to taste
First roast the semolina with a tsp of ghee in a flat bottomed pan until it just starts to brown. Set aside to cool. Heat the potatoes and carrots covered for two minutes in the microwave.
In a large skillet, temper the mustard seeds, cumin and urad dal. Add the chana dal and the red chili and cashews, turn down the heat and sauté till the cashews start to turn golden. Add the chili and hing and turmeric. Add the vegetables and sauté over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, ginger and cilantro. Cover and let cook for a minute or two. Add the bread and continue to saute for a couple of minutes. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the water is no longer bubbling.
Now gradually add the roasted semolina to the pot stirring briskly with your right hand. This takes some time to master to prevent lumping. It took me years to be able to pour the semolina with my left hand and stir briskly with my right hand. Add the lime juice and cover and allow to cook for a few minutes and let it set for a couple of minutes. Serve with a side of chutney or pickles and a cup of yogurt.