Rava Upma (Savory Semolina Pudding)
By DK on May 09, 2009
The very thought of this pudding makes me nostalgic. The number of times I would have enjoyed these during my growing up years is innumerable. One of the most basic'est dishes to make when it comes to South Indian foods. This is was the dish that my mother taught me first when I started cooking.
Its mostly made during breakfast but many families, including mine, enjoy it as a Tiffin item too. You can make this substantial easily by adding any Indian veggies you like. I mention Indian specifically 'cos if you were like me you would try to experiment with non Indian veggies like water chestnuts and asparagus (few others I dare not mention!) and the probability of you clutching your throat and lamenting your "creativity" after that first bite might follow right behind. But hey, if that works for you - go ahead! We have the right to our own distinct palates after all :)
The classic Rava Upma has the simplest of ingredients, gets done in a jiffy and is light on the stomach. I follow my mother's recipe which is as basic as it can get. Refer my Tips section for the kind of veggies you can add to this.
my mom's recipe
Prep Time: Under 15 min
Cook Time: Under 15 min
Serves: 2 people
- 1 cup Semolina (not semolina flour)
- 2 tsp Oil
- 1 tsp Ghee (optional)
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 tsp Black Gram Dal (urad dal)
- 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
- 1 dried Red chili
- 1 green chili, thinly sliced, or as per taste (optional)
- 1 tsp grated ginger (abt 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped finely)
- 1 tbsp Cashews, or as per taste, broken
- Salt to taste
- Curry Leaves and Cilantro to garnish
TipsVariation: Make this a full meal by adding vegetables. Veggies like Onion, Potato, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Tomato, Green Beans and Peas make great additions. If you have frozen veggies, then your life gets even simpler. I have a packet of frozen veggies with an assortment of carrot, peas, green beans, corn and lima beans that I tend to add when short on time. A quick saute of onions at Step 2 (after the tempering is done), followed by the frozen veggies. A quick stir for a minute or two and then continue with step 3.
Heat 1 tsp of ghee and roast the semolina in a skillet until aromatic and toasted. For a vegan version, you can sub the Ghee with oil. But you can skip the oil if cutting calories and dry roast it instead too.
While that's roasting on the side, heat another pan. I do this to reduce the cooking time. Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil and then add the mustard seeds. When it starts popping, add the asafoetida, cashews, ginger, urad dal and red chillies (along with green chilies if using). When the urad dad starts browning, add the curry leaves. All this together would take around 2 minutes on low-medium heat.
Now Increase heat to high and add 2 cups of water. Here I have to mention that though my mother always added 2 cups of water, I find personally that 2-1/2 cups works best for me. I am not sure if its the quality of semolina that I get here or the humidity (i.e the lack of it) or my electric stove top that is the reason. Start off with 2 cups and you can increase it the next time around if you find your pudding dry.
Add salt once the water comes to a boil - about 3 to 4 minutes. For the beginner cook who is not sure of the amount of salt, I would suggest adding little and taste the water. Better err on the side of less than more.
Reduce the heat to medium and the roasted semolina to the boiling water.
I know its not as obvious in the photo, but you need to keep the stirring going with your right hand while you pour the semolina with the left.
Keep the stirring action going otherwise it will form lumps. This little physical extortion is necessary for that smooth velvety texture.
You know its done when the semolina comes together into a mass without sticking to the pan. If it continues to stick, cook further for few more seconds. This process should take around another 3 minutes.
For an extra special treat, right at this moment when its almost done, sprinkle some ghee on top and stir one more time. The aroma and the taste that the ghee imparts is heavenly. But its optional and can be skipped.
Let it sit for a minute closed with a lid and garnish with cilantro.
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