Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Ever since the day a few months ago when a friend brought me a still warm dish of her Indian mother-in-law's freshly prepared uppma I've been hooked. It's hard to describe the appeal of what could simply be defined as a savory Cream of Wheat. Bear with me, it's better than it sounds. Think more of a pilaf/risotto hybrid, speckled with vegetables and nuts, rich with the golden flavor of lightly toasted wheat. It must be the ultimate comfort food for countless South Indians--it just has that warm, wholesome, uncomplicated thing going on.

On a recent trip to Abhiruchi for a Sunday buffet lunch, I had numerous servings of their uppma which was not nearly as delicate as Gita's, but tasty nonetheless.

And finally, I got up the nerve to try my own after buying a bag of farina at Bob's Red Mill last week. I followed the process outlined by Madhur Jaffrey in her World Vegetarian cookbook, but used my own combination of ingredients. We had neither curry leaves nor chana dal, but there was a bowl of leftover shelled edamame in the fridge, making this particular version a Japanese-South Indian fusion experiment. It was delicious though, unsurprisingly, the children were not impressed. You'll find the recipe here. It's clearly a foundation sort of dish--once you have the basics, I'm sure you can play with all sorts of variations. Madhur Jaffrey offers up three versions: cilantro-peanut, cashew and green bean, and a cabbage-pea combo. I plan on trying all of them. If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh! I'm here and you never told me!? Uppma is fabulous stuff, for sure. I have successfully frozen curry leaves, and could even bring you some. They need to be fried in the oil, and add the most delicious fragrance to the dish, it's one of those upper palate/nasal flavors. Lovely stuff! I could also copy the recipe out of my favorite Indian cookbooks for you....when I find it! :-)