I don’t know where to begin. Let’s just say I’m here. Back again, happy, optimistic…
My mother-in-law makes a spicy, savory upma from semolina (sooji). It’s South Indian any time comfort food, and takes minutes to make. Last week my friend Sukanya made sooji upma as I stood watching. I love her cooking, and I especially loved standing by her side, handing her things, watching, observing, seeing the meal come together. Perhaps why this felt so good is because this is how we evolved – women together, cooking in groups over open flames, sharing bits of this and that.
Sukanya’s upma inspired me to comb my notes for my mother-in-law’s recipe. Here it is, modified from the original to include only half the original quantity of semolina. I like it better this way, because the bright colors of the vegetables entrance me, and I love the taste of the carrot, cauliflower and peas enrobed in crumbly lumps of moist, comforting, ghee-laden sooji.
1/2 cup, about 125g semolina
A little less than 2 cups water
1/4 cup milk
For the tempering:
1 tsp urad dal
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 green chillies, minced, optional
10-12 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger, minced
¼ cup cashews, broken into pieces
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee, optional
Salt to taste
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a big pot. Add in this order: urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green chillies, curry leaves, ginger, cashews, and all the chopped vegetables. Fry for a few minutes.
2. Add water and milk. Bring to boil. Cook for several minutes until vegetables are soft.
3. Then turn off and set aside. Add remaining ½ tbsp oil.
4. Pour the sooji (in a thin stream if possible) gradually into the water and stir continuously to avoid lumps. Add salt to taste.
Put back on the stove and cook for a few minutes on low heat. Drizzle ghee on top (optional) and keep aside for 5-10 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.