Chef Ali Loukzada, formerly of NYC's Buddakan and Tabla, heads the Himalayan-inspired Cafe Serai by Steven Starr Events at the Rubin Museum of Art. His homestyle take on upma — similar to grits or polenta but cooked with semolina wheat and plenty of coconut milk and butter — is definitely a dish to add to your Indian repertoire.
"Upma is a common dish in southern India, especially for breakfast," says Loukzada. "It is usually cooked as a thick porridge with semolina. You can throw in various seasonings or vegetables while the upma is being cooked. It just depends on the individual’s preferences."
- 1/2 cup semolina
- 2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
- 2 tablespoons shallots
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 to 4 thin slices chili (green or red)
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons onion seed
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 spring curry leaf
- 3 kokums (Indian plums), sliced
- salt, to taste
- vegetables (any in season)
- Dry roast 1/2 cup semolina (rava) with butter until it just begins to turn brown, and then keep aside.
- Heat up butter in a large saucepan.
- Add onion seeds (nigella seeds), curry leaf and cumin and wait until it sputters. Then add ginger, chilies and chopped shallots and cook until translucent.
- Add vegetables of your choice, salt, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of coconut milk and bring to boil.
- Add the roasted rava turn down the heat, and mix quickly to avoid lumps forming.
- The upma is done when all the water is absorbed by the rava.
Try out these Indian recipes on Food Republic: