I have written about Uppittu/Upma before and in that recipe, I used bread as the base ingredient. Uppittu/Upma is a dish traditionally made with coarse semolina and some simple spices. Uppittu/Upma is made all over South India in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Depending on where your are, different types of semolina (coarse, fine) may be used. In addition, semolina can be substituted for broken rice and that version is called “akki tari”. In Karnataka, the state I’m from, uppittu is a very popular breakfast dish. During a particular time of the year, a bean called Avarekalu (Hyacinth bean, Indian bean, Lablab purpureus) becomes available and uppittu made out of these beans is a local delicacy. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find these beans in England so I’ve settled for vegetables in this recipe.
Uppittu can be had as breakfast, lunch, evening snack or even for dinner. As I mentioned in the previous Upma post, it is quite heavy and as a result, a good thing to make if you have a lot of guest-mouths to feed. If you are unable to have semolina as it wheat-based, then you can make the same thing with polenta. You’d have to cook the vegetables and polenta separately and bring them together at the end. Polenta sets quite nicely so you can cut it into little squares and serve.
Hope you try this traditional South Indian dish and like it!
Ingredients (Serves 4 easily – Pictures 1 & 2 below):
2 cups of coarse semolina
1 medium tomato, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 a green capsicum (green pepper), diced
8-10 string beans, chopped finely
2 spring onions, diced finely (optional)
1/2 cup of dessicated coconut (optional)
Spices for tempering:
2 inch piece of ginger – grated or finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
2 teaspoons of whole cumin seeds
4-5 curry leaves
1 teaspoon of channa dal (optional)
2 tablespoons of oil
Salt to suit your taste
1. In a medium sized frying pan, dry roast (don’t use any oil) the semolina until it starts to go a golden brown. Tip the roasted semolina onto some kitchen towel and allow to cool (Picture 3).
2. Lightly toast the dessicated coconut until it starts to go brown and add the toasted coconut to the semolina to allow it to cool (Pictures 4 & 5).
3. In the same frying pan as steps 1 and 2, add the oil and allow to heat for 2-4 minutes. To the oil, add all spices except ginger, chillies and salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the mustard seeds start to pop (Picture 6).
4. Add the ginger and chillies and sauté for a further 2 minutes until the raw smell of ginger no longer lingers (Picture 7).
5. Add the onions to the frying pan and sauté until they go golden brown (Picture 8).
6. Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Make sure they are evenly coated with the spices and oil (Picture 9).
7. To the cooking vegetables, add salt to suit your taste and enough water to submerge them in the pan (Picture 10). Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and thoroughly cooked. It helps to have the veggies chopped into small bits to make this step quicker. The carrot and beans are the toughest of the vegetables so if they are cooked, then you are ready for the next step.
8. You can choose to employ and assistant for this step or do it yourself. Fold the kitchen towel containing the semolina and coconut into a funnel shape or in a way that allows you to pour it into the pan bit by bit (Picture 11). Hold the kitchen towel over the pan with one hand and slowly trickle the semolina into it, continuously stirring the falling semolina into the vegetables with the other hand. The stirring ensures that you aren’t making lumpy uppittu (Picture 11) .
9. Once you’ve poured all of the semolina in, mix the porridge well to uniformly spread the vegetables and the semolina. At this point, it will look like that in picture 12 below. If you look closely, you will still see white specks and this indicates that the semolina isn’t fully cooked yet.
10. Stir the semolina porridge for 2-3 minutes more until there are no more white specks to be seen. If you find that the mixture is getting quite thick, add more water.
11. The final product should resemble the main picture above. If you are feeling a bit indulgent, you can stir in a couple of teaspoons of ghee or a small knob of butter. This helps break up the grains of semolina and gives the final product a glossy look.
12. Serve while hot with some yoghurt and Indian lime pickle. Uppittu tastes quite nice when it is cold as well so if you are feeling lazy to heat it in the microwave, don’t. In Indian breakfast restaurants, uppittu is placed into a greased, dome shaped bowl and then tipped into the serving plate for presentation. In addition, the bowl ensures that the right serving size is presented to every patron walking in through the door.
1. As I mentioned in the introduction, beans and peas on their own can be used as a main vegetable to make uppittu.
2. If you don’t have a variety of vegetables in your fridge, potato and onion uppittu can be just as satisfying.
3. Another popular take on uppittu is to use well cooked eggplant.
Uppittu = U as in blue + pit + too
Upma = U as in blue + p + mar
Akki = uck as in tuck + key
Tari = the+ree
Avarekalu = Av as in love + a + ray + ka as in car + loo