So what’s Upma you ask.
According to my Kaveri Mami (now concocting delicious South Indian veggie dishes in that kitchen up in the sky), Upma was the quickest way to shut me up when I was wailing with hunger as a 5-year old. Something she could whip up in minutes, delicious, and most certainly healthier than Bourbon or Nice biscuits. Heaven forbid, the chicken puff.
Upma is traditionally made with semolina, a kind of coarse wheat product, very high in carbs and low in fibre. But Kaveri Mami (who took care of me and my brother when my mom was out working) knew nothing of the horrors of gluten, or the allergies produced by wheat.
I know better. And if there’s any doubt in your mind, here’s the calculation:
100 grams of semolina contain 73 grams of carbs and very little fibre / 100 grams of steamed and shredded cauliflower contains 5 grams of carb and half of it is fibre.
This recipe can serve 4 people generously, along with some accompanying vegetable or meat dish. There are totally about 80 carbs in all of it. Divide that by 4 and each person is only consuming 20 carbs per meal.
I don’t have a steamer – so i boil water and throw in cauliflower florets with the stem and let it bubble for precisely 5 minutes. Take it out and drain.
500 grams of gently parboiled cauliflower (or steamed), shredded in a food processor or by hand, till it looks like rice
1 smallish carrot, peeled and chopped into fine pieces
A handful of green beans, about 8, de-veined, chopped in cubes
A handful of peas
1 medium onion, should fit in the palm of your hand, chopped in slinky slivers
1 green chilly, get rid of the seeds and then chop it finely
1 tbsp chana dal or split, skinned Bengal gram
½ tbsp urad dal
½ inch ginger grated or chopped finely
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig of curry leaves
3/4 cup of split cashews or if you’re not a spendthrift, a cup of raw peanuts
2 tbsp oil or ghee
Salt to taste
-In a largish saucepan, heat the oil or ghee
-Add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop
-Quickly add the two types of dal and the cumin and brown gently, not too much, not too little
-Add the nuts and hover over them so they don’t get over-browned, especially if you’re using the cashews. Peanuts are a bit hardier.
-Toss the onions in and fry them till they’re browning. You want a crispy texture.
-You are ready for green chilly and the curry leaves.
-Fry for a minute.
-Add the cauliflower and fry all of it until it looks done, mixing thoroughly.
I personally don’t think you need to serve this with anything else… but you can be inventive. It tastes as good with a chicken curry as it does with eggplant. This quantity of Cauliflower Upma serves two with some accompaniment, or one, if that’s all you’re eating.