Sunday, April 3, 2011

Semolina ‘Risotto’

I’d never heard or tasted Uppama before I came to Australia and a Sri Lankan Tamil friend made it for dinner. It’s a semolina dish spiced with curry leaves, mixed vegetables and cashews, but I could never figure out how to make it without turning the semolina into a porridge-like paste.
Thank goodness for Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook, which has several Uppama recipes of the non-gluggy variety. The secret is to ‘fry’ the coarse semolina granules in oil – don’t bother dry roasting without the oil, this won’t work to keep the dish from being paste-free. So if you like uppama as much as we do, have a go at ‘Semolina Risotto (Uppama) with Cabbage and Peas’.

What you’ll need:
* ¼ cup oil
* Generous pinch of ground asafetida (forgot to add this. In the past, have substituted 1 crushed garlic clove)
* 1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
* 1-2 whole dried red chillies (which I broke into bits)
* 2 teaspoons yellow split peas (or more, because it gives a nice nutty flavour)
* 15-20 curry leaves (it says optional, but I think it’s essential)
* 3 tablespoons shallots or red onion, finely chopped (I sliced one small red onion)
* 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
* 1-2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh green chilli (or green pepper)
* 1 well-packed cup of shredded green cabbage
* 3 tablespoons of frozen peas (I didn’t defrost them)
* 1 cup (coarse) semolina aka Cream of Wheat
* ¾ teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves aka cilantro (left that out).

What to do:
Boil some water and have about 1 ¾ cups ready for the semolina.
Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan, then add asafetida or garlic. Then immediately after that, add mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds begin to pop add yellow split peas and red chillies. Stir until split peas turn reddish. By this time the chillies usually turn black. So if you’d like to retain some colour, add red chillies along with the cabbage (a bit later on).
After split peas have changed colour, add curry leaves, then the onion. Fry until the onion begins to brown at the edges, before adding ginger and green chillies. Stir for a few minutes, then add cabbage. (Madhur advises adding peas at this stage along with some water. I don’t add water. And I leave the peas until last).
Stir-fry cabbage, then add the semolina and stir-fry until the granules are golden. Lower heat, stir in salt. Add boiling water a little at a time, stirring until water has been absorbed before adding more. Repeat until all 1 ¾ cups of water have been used. Keep stirring until the semolina has fluffed up. Break up lumps with the back of the spoon.
Then take off fire and add frozen peas. Cover and leave for peas to ‘defrost’. Chopped coriander leaves can be added at this stage too, if using. Then serve.  

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