Good upma is a beautiful thing - it isn't always as easy as it seems, it is something that I'm always aspiring to perfect. And it makes me incredibly happy when my upma seems to be as good as my mum's - which qualifies as the perfect 10!
Speaking of upma and similar one-pot meals - I always wondered about the difference between upma and khichdi. Upma is often made with sooji, sometimes with rice rava, other times with vermicelli. And it seems like khichdi is typically a rice and lentils dish - kind of the desi equivalent of rice'n'beans? But then again, there is rava khichdi, right? Which is often this olio of sooji with a slew of vegetables. So, how is that any different from rava upma? Or are the names interchangeable? Food for thought :)
Anyway, with all the stuff happening with Vodka, I really needed quick comfort food - which can easily translate to upma (or khichdi?). I often take the easy way out and skip roasting the rava - but this time I really wanted the flavors and aromas to match the memories in my head - it is pretty amazing how nostalgic smells can be! :) So, hungry as I was, no shortcuts were taken - I worked with a mix of coarse and smooth sooji ravas and roasted them till golden before working them into the upma. That, along with liberal use of cherry tomatoes made for some really flavorful khichdi - I'm truly hoping I can replicate this!
1 cup coarse sooji rava
1 cup fine sooji rava
1 red onion - chopped
1 green bell pepper - chopped
2 carrots - chopped
15-18 cherry tomatoes -sliced
4 green chillies - sliced lengthwise
1" ginger - grated
10-12 curry leaves
a handful of raw peanuts
1 t mustard seeds
1 t urad daal
1 T channa daal
1 t asafoetida
1 t turmeric
1 T sesame oil
a handful of pomegranate seeds
a few sprigs of cilantro
Mix the ravas and dry roast them till golden and the smell of the roasted rava wafts around you. Heat the oil in a wok, add the mustard. Once it sputters, throw in the urad and channa daals along with the peanuts, asafoetida and curry leaves.
Once these are browned, add the onions, ginger and green chillies and saute for 4-5 minutes.
The bell peppers and carrots go in next, saute for another 1-2 minutes.
Now toss in the tomatoes and stir for another minute.
Pour 4 cups of water into this veggie mix and add some salt and turmeric.
Cook covered till the water is at a roiling boil. Now, turn down the heat and fold in the rava gently - about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly to avoid clumping.
Again cook covered on low for 4-5 minutes till the rava is totally translucent.
Add salt to taste.
Garnish with cilantro and ... pomegranate seeds! *so* good! :)
Serve with a dollop of home-made yogurt and maybe some pickles - lime or maybe avakkai?