One of the ubiquitous dishes in South India is Upma, usually made with rava, a semolina product. But it can be made with other grains, like millet, corn, poha, vermicelli and even cracked wheat. Today I am making it with buckwheat as I happened to have it in the cupboard. Buckwheat is particularly good for upma as it cooks to a creamy porridge-like consistency.
Upma is much loved, especially in Tamil Nadu, as a breakfast dish and as a tiffin. But really, it is very easy to make. The grain, usually rava, is cooked in a spice flavoured liquid until the desired consistency is reached. Some like it thin, some thick. Truly it is generally made in under 10 mins, although using buckwheat takes a little longer due to its cooking time.
1 Tblspn ghee (no less)
0.5 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 tspn channa dal
1 tspn urad dal
2 – 3 Indian dried red chillies
1 sprig curry leaves
1 onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
0.5 tspn ginger, finely chopped
pinch of asafoetida
1 cup cracked buckwheat
4 cups water
Add ghee to a kadhai or saucepan and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Let them pop, then the add urad dal, channa dal, and red chillies. Saute for a moment until the dals turn golden.
Add the chopped onions, ginger and green chilli. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the buckwheat and stir in the ghee and onions for a moment or two.
Add the water and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, covered, for about 10 mins until the buckwheat is cooked and the upma has thickened.
Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Add a squeeze of lemon and mix well. Cover and allow upma to rest for 5 mins.
recipe notes and alternatives
Top with toasted cashews, red peanuts or almond flakes and some ghee for maximum flavour.
Serve with a peanut podi, lime chutney, pickle, papad or sambar.
Add 0.5 tsp cumin to the tadka if you desire.
Add vegetables of your choice such as carrots, peas or tomatoes.