Uppama (semolina cereal/cream of wheat)

 Indian Cooking, Recipes  Comments Off on Uppama (semolina cereal/cream of wheat)
Mar 082011


Uppama is a nutritious savory South Indian cereal packed with vegetables. It is one of my favorite comfort foods. It has also turned out to be something my finicky two-year-old daughter will eat (for now).

Uppama is normally eaten for breakfast, perhaps with coconut chutney on the side, but can also be eaten for lunch or dinner. It can also be used as a stuffing for vegetables like tomatoes and green peppers, which I plan to try. The recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s “World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.”

Semolina – 1.5 cups

Ghee – 1 T + ½ tsp

Oil – 1 T

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Urad dal – 1 tsp (optional)

Channa dal/split garbanzo beans – 1 T

Curry leaves – 5 to 6

Dried red chillies – 2 broken into pieces (use the seeds please)

Cashew nuts – 1 T, roughly chopped (optional)

Asafoetida – 1/8th tsp

Water – 3 cups

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup mixed vegetables

Salt – 1 tsp or to taste

Coconut – 1 T, grated

* Heat 1 T of ghee in a sauté pan and sauté the semolina until it slightly changes color.
* Transfer the semolina to a plate
* Heat oil in the same sauté pan and when the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves, chillies, cashew nuts and asafoetida.
* When the channa dal starts changing color, add onion and saute for a few minutes. Add mixed vegetables (or other vegetable(s), coconut and salt.
* Slowly stir in the semolina while continuing to stir with the other hand, alternating with water.
* Reduce the heat to medium low. All the water will be absorbed. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for roughly 3-4 minutes

Great with a side of Indian pickle and plain yogurt!


Healing Spices

 Alternative Medicine, Indian Cooking  Comments Off on Healing Spices
Mar 042011


Most people in India are aware of the healing effects of the spices they use. Or they are just very accustomed to their use in everyday cooking and take for granted the additional health benefits they receive. It has been an interesting observation that the incidence of Alzheimer’s in India has not been very common. This phenomenon has been attributed to the widespread use of turmeric, a key ingredient in curry powder and mustard.

The author of Healing Spices, Bharat B. Aggarwal, states that there are 50 spices that may help prevent or heal particular diseases or conditions. For instance, cooked bay leaf releases antioxidants and is a natural medicine for arthritis, cancer, ulcer, mosquito bites and wounds. He points out to look for whole, dark, and larger leaves.

Cumin has been considered to “be as effective as an anti-diabetes drug in controlling diabetes in lab rats.” It can also protect bones and prevent food poisoning. “Agarwal recommends buying cumin as whole seeds rather than ground.”

Ginger and garlic is normally found in most Indian dishes and also has medicinal properties such as enhancing our immune system. Other uncommon beneficial spices include lemongrass, nutmeg and thyme.

It’s good to know that in addition to enhancing the flavor of our foods, spices can be a natural source of healing.

Source: USA Weekend, my column

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