Recipes Gone Wild: Indian Upma with Oats

Happy spring, and happy Monday, Greenpoint. I’m resolving to be healthy and renewed after a shameless and somewhat regrettable Saturday night binge on freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, prompting a fairly intensive trip to the fruit stand Sunday morning. No more excuses about not cooking now that my fridge is officially bursting at the seams with all sort of fresh, beautiful produce. The change in season’s got me all excited to try some new things in the kitchen, and after some digging around on the web I came across this twist on one of my old favorites– upma— a savory Indian breakfast porridge studded with diced veggies, cashews, peas, and spices, traditionally made with semolina, but made here with rolled oats instead. It’s got all the ingredients you need to get your day started on the right foot– healthy, delicious, and honestly kind of awe-inspiring. Make a big batch and enjoy it reheated as the week goes one.  This dish’s flavors are bright enough to shine for days.

Ginger for spring : As comes the change in seasons, so comes snuffy noses and allergies from all of that new pollen in the air.  Not only can ginger’s heat help clear your sinuses, and ease nausea, but it’s even reported to have some antihistamine effects as well, making gingery Upma an even more enticing way to start the day. Read all about why ginger fixes everything that ails ya here.

Vegetable Oats Upma
from the tasty palettes blog
serves 2

Ingredients
1 cup Steel cut or rolled oats (not instant)
3 cups diced vegetables (mixture of carrot, green beans, and peas)
1 small onion, chopped
2 Green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 Tbsp. Ginger, chopped
1 tsp. Sambar powder (or a combination of red chilli powder+coriander powder+turmeric powder)
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1 tbsp Oil
Salt, to taste
2 cups water (note: use 2 cups for steel cut oats or 1½ cups for rolled oats)

Seasoning
1 tsp. Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp. Chana dal
1 Tbsp. Urad dal
a few curry leaves
1 Tbsp. Oil

Method
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large, deep skillet. Splutter mustard seeds, and roast urad dal, chana dal and curry leaves. I usually remove the seasoning from the pan in this stage and add towards the end. This way the dals stay crunchy. You may leave it in the pan and proceed further.

In the same skillet, heat remaining oil, sauté onion, green chillies and ginger. When onion turns soft, add all the vegetables and sauté briefly. Add water to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Add sambar powder (or the combination of spice powders), salt, oats, and cashews and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook over a medium flame for 15 minutes. When done, oats should be soft, but chewy. If oats are not cooked through, sprinkle in some more water, mix, cover, and continue cooking for additional 5 minutes. Add seasoning at the end (if reserved as mentioned previously) and serve hot with a dollop of yogurt.

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Thanks to Tasty Palettes for breaking my breakfast boredom. And sorry, Smart Bran.  I’m sure I’ll come back to you sooner or later though.

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg

About Libby V

Libby VanderPloeg lives and makes work in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She grew up in Michigan on the edge of the Great Lakes dunes, and has lived in Chicago, New York, and Stockholm. Her work comes out of her deep affinity for storytelling, music, letterforms, printed ephemera, and wildlife. None of these works could have been made without the world's finest brioche and several good, strong cups of coffee.

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