Rava Upma – Quick & Tasty Tiffin

Rava Upma – Quick & Tasty Tiffin Upma is a much maligned, under-rated dish among south-indian tiffins. Upma is quick, easy and tasty and needs very few ingredients. When you’ve run out of idli/dosa batter and you don’t have anything handy or you just don’t feel like taking all the effort, you make upma. So when all else fails, there’s upma, like Mamooty says in “Azhagan”. There are people who hate upma and there are people like me who enjoy a good upma. In many households, upma is never made. I think the upma haters are driven by the general image of upma being too plain and because they never have it. These kinds of tendencies build on themselves. You don’t like it, so you don’t have it and you continue to not like it which is why you don’t have it. Like the brinjal haters/okra haters… Generally in our house, upma is made in its own right as a tiffin and not just as a substitute. It is a good kid-friendly uni-age dish that you can serve toddlers as well , my son  with just around 4 and a half teeth (broke a tooth in half recently) quite enjoys his uppalam (thats what he calls it). My sister is an upma lover and my mom is therefore quite an expert upma maker (no that’s not the newest kitchen gadget, it’s just my mom). Now upma isn’t that difficult, but even the simplest dishes can go horribly wrong and I usually manage to test all possible bugs. So I know that even upma can go wrong. The key to a good upma lies in roasting the rava and using the right amount of water. Upma can be served as is or with chutney. Preparation Time: 5 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Serves: 4-5 Ingredients Bombay rava/Fine sooji/Fine Semolina – 2 cupsOnion – 1 large chopped fineMustard seeds – 1/2 tspSplit urad dal/Black gram – 2 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemDry red chillies – 2-3 broken into halvesSalt to tasteOil – 2 tspGhee – 1 tspWater – 4 cupsFried Cashewnuts – for garnish (optional)Coriander leaves – for garnish Method 1.      Dry roast the rava in a kadai/skillet till heated through and remove just before it starts to brown. Set aside the roasted rava. 2.      In the same kadai, heat 2 tsp oil and when hot, add mustard seeds. When the mustard starts...

Idiyappam (String Hoppers) with South-indian style Pepper & Ginger soup

Idiyappam (String Hoppers) with South-indian style Pepper & Ginger soup Idiyappam and soup This is one recipe that I need to give total credit to my mother-in-law (single biggest plus of joint-family). I learnt from her both of these dishes. Idiyappam and soup is a staple at our house, we have it at-least once a week. It is super-easy and super quick to prepare. I was for quite a long time intimidated by Idiyappam, by this silly stringy thingy until I learned to make it. In restaurants, Idiyappam is usually served with Vegetable Korma or sweetened coconut milk. I initially scoffed at the combination of Idiyappam and soup during my early married days, like Men in Black dubbed in tamil – funny but strange. I have to say I’ve grown to really like it. Dip the soft idiyappam in the fiery hot soup for just a moment before popping it into your mouth and then wait for the black peppers to hit the back of your throat – boom. Gives quite a pungent kick. You’ll need getting used to this flavour combination though, a bit like A.R.Rahman songs, the first few times they’ll seem unexciting until you hear them over and over and you grow to love them. Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 5 minsServes: 3-4 Idiyappam Recipe IngredientsRice flour – 3 cupsSalt to tasteBoiling hot water Method 1.      Add salt to rice flour and mix well. 2.      Add boiling water a little at a time to the flour and mix with the back of a wooden spatula. Keep adding and mixing till all the flour is incorporated and you have a soft dough. It should be soft to touch, moist but non-sticky. It should be moist, a dry dough would make the idiyappam taste powdery. Keep it covered with a lid. The consistency of the dough is critical to the texture of the idiyappam. This is it. 3.      Fill the Idiyappam press with some dough and start piping from the centre making slightly overlapping circles and working your way out to the outer edge of the idiyappam plate. Don’t worry if your circles aren’t proper circles, are squiggly. I don’t. Make sure the idiyappam plate is fully covered and evenly covered. Repeat the same piping process to cover all your idiyappam plates. 4.      Stack the idiyappam plates in its holder. Place a steel vessel big enough to hold the...
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