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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vermicelli Upma / Semiya Upma / Shavige Uppittu

Ever tried getting a recipe from an elderly Indian woman like a grandma, aunt or even your own mama? You are in luck if you do get and understand the right measurements of a recipe. Most of them go with either a pinch / a dash / a handful or with a measure that you might have never heard in your life. You cannot blame them because that's how on a daily basis, an average Indian woman cooks with no need of any measuring tools. In case, if they need a measuring cup, they would grab any one lying nearby. Seriously. :)
When I was about to move here and sat with my mom for a sort of '2 day cooking course for dummies', I had a first hand experience of this. She would tell me the ingredients that went into a recipe but wouldn't tell exactly how much. She was having a hard time explaining me the measurements as she pretty much eyeballed everything while cooking.
I have learnt that experience teaches everything. Now my husband would be watching in horror as I go adding salt directly from a saltbox's spout while cooking. That's how I know how much to add and not with a spoon or by pouring salt in my hand. :)
A kitchen can be an overwhelming place for a novice cook. Keeping that in mind, I have tried to explain today's recipe in an easy manner. I hope that even those who are stepping into the kitchen for the first time have no problems following this.
I have chosen one of the simplest breakfast items from South India, the vermicelli upma. Eat it for breakfast or as a mini meal, your taste buds and tummy are going to thank you.

List of ingredients for 2 servings:
1 cup* vermicelli
1 big sized or 2 small onions
1 tomato (optional)
1 big sized, medium hot green chili (more or less depending upon the heat preferred. I have used Serrano.)
1.5 tsp salt
4 tsp oil
1 tsp each - chanadal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds
Few curry leaves (like 10)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
Water - 1 & 1/2 cups (same cup used to measure the vermicelli, about 350 ml)

Preparation & cooking time - Less than 30 minutes

Fry the vermicelli in a sauté pan on medium flame. Keep stirring the vermicelli with a big flat spoon / spatula till it turns golden brown through out. It would take around 3 minutes. A tsp of oil or ghee may be added while frying though it is entirely optional and can be skipped. Also don't bother about this step if you are using pre-roasted vermicelli.
Chop the ends of the onion. Cut into halves, remove the outer skins and then chop them. Also wash & chop the tomato.
Wash the green chili. Remove the stalk and slit lengthwise twice so that you have 4 pieces. Holding them together, chop them fine. Don't discard the seeds and remember not to touch your eyes or face after cutting the chilies.

Cooking part:
Heat oil in a kadai or deep-based pan for about 30 seconds or a little longer and then add chana dal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When chanadal starts to turn reddish and mustard seeds start to sizzle, add the chili, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Sauté them for about 15 seconds and then add the chopped onion. Mix everything with the spatula once and on low flame, cook the onions till they turn soft. It would take about 2 - 3 minutes. Then add the tomato to the cooked onions and keep stirring for about 3 minutes. After that add the water to the onion - tomato mixture and let it come to a rolling boil.  Increase the flame to high to quicken the boiling process.
When water comes to a rolling boil, add salt and the vermicelli and stir well once. Again turn down the flame, cover the lid and let the vermicelli cook till done.

1. Add finely chopped vegetables like potato, carrot, green beans and peas along with onions. Serve with some yogurt for a full meal.
2. 1/2 tsp of shredded ginger can be added along with onion.
3. Finely minced cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) can be added as a garnish.
4. Ghee can be substituted for oil.
5. Peanuts or cashews can be added in tadka.
6. Squeeze some lemon/lime juice while serving.

* American measure

This is going to Cooking Basics event.

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Mahimaa's kitchen said...

hey this looks yum! thanks for your contribution.

DEESHA said...

this is the perfect breakfast recipe

Happy Cook said...

I love this upma; yours looks so so delicous.

Priya said...

Fantastic upma, i do the same too..

Anonymous said...

really good piece of information, I had come to know about your site from my friend shubodh, kolkatta,i have read atleast nine posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your site gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a lot once again, Regards,
Semiya upma