Archive for July, 2012


Today, I give the recipe of a slightly modified version of a dish I grew up with — Rava Upma. Traditionally made with semolina (rava) and vegetables, this comforting dish is a staple in South Indian households. While the recipe I give departs slightly from the authentic from time to time, I can confidently say that it unmistakably tastes like a really good upma. In fact if I may dare say, it is better than the semolina version because bulgar wheat has a nutty flavor, a delightful texture and nutritional value that is off the charts.

Bulgur wheat, a cereal made by cracking steamed and toasted whole wheat kernels, makes an excellent base for upma because it comes really close and even manages to upstage the cracked wheat upma that the health conscious eat in India. Cracked wheat, a cracked whole wheat cereal made from raw whole wheat, is also often used as a rice substitute by diabetic patients in India.

Here’s the recipe for the moist and well-spiced bulgar upma that I just made. I will also give you tips on how to jazz up the upma South Indian style. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Bulgur upma with low-fat yoghurt

Bulgur wheat upma with home-made low-fat yoghurt

To make this dish, you will need:

Essential ingredients:

About five tablespoons of canola oil, three and a half cups of cooked bulgur wheat, two small onions, one and a half-inch cube of grated / crushed ginger, three medium-sized tomatoes, three slender carrots, a handful of peas, two handfuls of baby spinach leaves, a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), salt and red chili powder.

Optional ingredients (Add a more distinct South Indian flair):

A pinch of cumin seeds, a pinch of mustard seeds, a dash of turmeric, a handful of curry leaves and raw peanuts or cashew nuts. You can also add vegetables such as chopped cauliflower, green beans or bell peppers. To gourmet it up, you could add cooked chickpeas in place of nuts. If decadence is what you are in the mood for, add a spoonful butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter).

Method:

Chop the onions fine and coat a skillet with oil and heat on a medium flame. Add in a dash mustard, cumin seeds and a handful of chopped cashews or whole peanuts if you like. Once they splutter a little and the nuts roast, add in the curry leaves. Once an aroma develops, add the chopped onions and ginger, and let them cook till they brown slightly. While the onions cook, peel and chop the carrots and cut the tomatoes.

When the onions slightly brown, add in the carrots and stir. After a minute or so, add in the tomato pieces and peas. Let the vegetables cook till the tomatoes become soft and ooze some juice. Once this happens, add one and a quarter tablespoon of red chili powder, a pinch of turmeric and a tablespoon and a half of salt. Mix and add in the cooked bulgur. Stir and let it cook over a low flame. Add in the baby spinach leaves and coriander leaves (cilantro), mix and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the baby spinach leaves become tender, turn off the heat. Taste and adjust for salt and spice.

Serve hot with low-fat yoghurt.

Who wants to slave in the kitchen in the morning? Not me. But I’m not happy with sugary cereal either. A few days ago, I came across this simple Asian-inspired savory breakfast preparation from New York Times’ Mark Bittman. I’ve tried it four times or so with different whole grains and I’m glad to say that this recipe works, especially if you LOVE green onions like I do.

Mark Bittman's savory breakfast made with bulgur

Bulgur Breakfast à la Mark Bittman

Bittman adds scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce to whole grains to make this non-greasy delightful savory breakfast cereal. When I first saw Bittman’s demo, I feared that the dish may be one-note because of the soy and the lack of a spice but the stars of the dish ended up being the scallions and the whole grains. Also, when I am hungry, I add some scrambled egg or diced avocado to the cereal!

The only note of caution I would add is that if you don’t add enough soy, the cereal is a little dry and bland. I usually add a little soy, mix, taste and add some more depending on how much I need.

Watch Bittman weave his magic with wheat berries:

IMAO, Banana milkshake needs no sweetener. But when haunted by a persistent sweet tooth, what better way to sweeten the deal than to add in some dates. Not only

Banana and Date Milkshake

Banana and Date Milkshake

are dates, with their vitamin-y goodness, a natural way to sweeten foods, they also give food a distinct delicious flavour.

To make a power-packed and nutritious Banana and Date milkshake that lasts three to four servings, blend 4-5 cubes of ice with three chopped bananas and 8-10 chopped dates. Once the pieces become a smooth purée, add one and a half (1 1/2) cups of low-fat (2 %) milk. Blend. Add a little more milk to ajust for sweetness / consistency. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information for Bananas

Nutritional Info for Bananas

Nutritional Information for Dates

Nutritional Info for Dates

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