Thursday, May 17, 2007

Love Like Salt, Part III: The Upma Post

I just had the most fantastic dinner.

I made the upma following this recipe. I was a little worried that it wasn't going to turn out, because right away I burned my tempering spices (I've gotten pretty used to how long it takes to pop mustard seed and cumin, but I wasn't expecting those cashews to turn black quite as fast as they did). But after adding the upma itself, and stirring, I discovered that (like the recipe hints) it does give out a very nice aroma. A lovely, warm, comforting aroma.

As I added the water and I began to see what this gritty-but-fragrant mess was about to turn into, I got very excited. I didn't do the thing about packing it into a greased mold and making the perfect upma cone, though if I were ever serving this to someone else (candlelit upma dinner, hmm...???) I certainly would.

And to top it off, while I was stirring the upma, one burner away was a nice bubbling pot of sambar.

Yes, I know. Upma's not idlis and it's not rice-based. But the temperature had dropped today (following two days of rain and storms) and I really wanted to make something hot and soup-like. Also I really wanted to make sambar, so I did.

So for dinner I had upma with a bit of mango pickle, and a cup of sambar, and -- at the end -- a piece of cake. Probably the best dinner I've cooked ever, and the best meal I've eaten since NYC.

(And yes, it does work to dunk the cake into the sambar, and yes, I totally did.)

I am willing to hazard a guess that part of the reason why the meal turned out so good (besides the inherent delightfulness of upma, as S. predicted), is because I used, for the first time, fresh curry leaves and fresh coriander. (Prior to that I was using dry, powder versions of all necessary herbs.) But Namaste Grocery has always had the fresh stuff in stock, and now that I've got this high-paying summer job, I went for the real thing.

And... mmm, so worth it.

Anyway. I'm trying to think of a word to fill in the phrase I've now got running through my head, like a song:

Rasam is awesome, but upma is ____.

Unfortunately I can think of no word that rhymes with upma. So I'm going to open it up to y'all, because I bet between the lot of us we've got a gigantic vocabulary. I'll also accept Indic-language words. ^__^


Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty much like *my* dinner, minus the cake! BTW, upma with sambar isn't so out there actually - Rava idlis - which are essentially, rava upma moulded into idly shape are routinely served with sambar in the cheaper restaurants and college canteens in S. India!

Egg poacher - wonderful that you have one - yes it works perfectly well - I use that when I don't want to haul out the rack and make 20 idlis at once.

Unfortunately you can't make std. rice idlis (or not very well anyway) without grinding the batter, but Gits makes a decent idly mix and MTR is the household name for Rava idly mix. Just follow instructions on the pack. Dosas though - you can make very fair dosa batter by mixing together rice flour and urad dal flour (approx 2:1), both of which you can get at your local Indian grocery store. If you have a skillet or non-stick pan, you're all set - and you can use your sambar with that as well!

Good luck!


PTHS said...

Rasam is awesome, but upma is ultima?

Blue said...

Bitterlemons: hope you enjoyed your dinner as much as I enjoyed mine. Glad to know that rava idlis are served in cheap dives and student cafeterias -- it fits my philosophy of "cheapest available."

Pths (pretty tangerine-hued salwar??): Thanks! But for me ultima is always Ultima, the computer game series from the early 90s. I did love me some Ultima... eight-bit adventurers wandering around a land made of squares and rectangles, ruled by the unimaginatively-named "Lord British"...

pths said...

Hadnt heard abt the computer game before. As for my name, you'll have to look back through to an earlier comment. :)

And keep going with the upma!

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