Nostalgic memories rush back with renewed vigour whenever I think about my favorite breakfast dish, Upma! I can recollect the tempting aroma of upma being prepared which is as soothing as my mother’s gentle touch.
My father loves this dish and whenever he used to feel hungry he would request my mother to cook this dish for him.
During my childhood days, many a times, my father would come home from work in the evenings and expect to savour, some filling snack or dish. Some times, my mother used to fall short of such dishes. In such times, my father would request my mother to prepare the ‘humble’ upma. Even if he had this dish for breakfast,the same morning or the previous day, too. He never seemed to tire of having this simple, tasty and filling snack.
Then my mother would go into the kitchen and would whip up this within a few minutes. Very effortlessly! And serve this ‘hot’ dish to my father, who would devour it with great pleasure. We, especially I, used to look forward towards geting my share and loved these ‘treat bouts’.
One of the most common breakfasts, in my house is the ‘evergreen upma’. How can I ever forget this dish? It is one of my family’s favorite breakfast dishes, too. This dish can be cooked within 10 minutes (or even lesser time by the experts like my mom and mother-in-law) A very filling meal, it can be had for lunch or dinner too. Many a time, my mother and my inlaws have it for dinner on Saturdays. As, they do not eat rice on Saturdays for dinner.
This savoury thick porridge is knowns as ‘Upma’ in Telugu and Tamil, ‘Uppittu’ in Kannada, ‘Upitt’ in Konkani and Marathi. It is made in most South Indian households and, commonly served in most South Indian hotels too. Its popularity can be attributed to the following facts:
- it is easy to cook
- it takes a few minutes to prepare this dish
- it is very economical
- it is filling and tasty
- easy to scale up and down – can be cooked in varied quantity based on the need
- it can be adapted to include various vegetables and seasonings, depending on the availability and preference
- it can be made with a lot of variations, wherein the base ingredient, rava, can be replaced with cracked wheat (dalia), vermicelli, ground rice, oats, bread, sago (tapioca pearls) etc
There are mainly two variations of this dish; one is the plain variety, wherein no vegetables are added. Only the seasoning of mustard seeds, urad dal, Bengal gram and curry leaves is added. Inclusion of onion is optional. This is drizzled with lemon juice. Though plain, this version tastes delicious. Eating this dish feels very much like enjoying a simple meal in a cosy home!
The second variety is the more common version which we often make for breakfast. To this dish, onion, tomatoe are added alongwith seasoning. Other vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, carrot etc maybe added. My daughter loves peas in her upma so I try to incorporate these whenever I make upma.
Upma is a very versatile and one can make it based on the ‘bare’ minimal ingredients available in one’s kitchen.
‘Upma’ gained international popularity, when the Indian born chef Floyd Cardozo (based in US) won the prestigious Top Chef contest in America in 2011. His ‘upma’ dish was his ‘winning dish’! In his words, ‘diners wanted different vegetarian grain to make their food more flavorful, textural and exciting’.
As per The Wall Street Journal “in the end, (Floyd Cardozo) impressed because of the spice and passion that infused his final meal of the season”
Indeed an impressive and memorable vegetarian dish!