Ever since the day a few months ago when a friend brought me a still warm dish of her Indian mother-in-law's freshly prepared uppma I've been hooked. It's hard to describe the appeal of what could simply be defined as a savory Cream of Wheat. Bear with me, it's better than it sounds. Think more of a pilaf/risotto hybrid, speckled with vegetables and nuts, rich with the golden flavor of lightly toasted wheat. It must be the ultimate comfort food for countless South Indians--it just has that warm, wholesome, uncomplicated thing going on.
On a recent trip to Abhiruchi for a Sunday buffet lunch, I had numerous servings of their uppma which was not nearly as delicate as Gita's, but tasty nonetheless.
And finally, I got up the nerve to try my own after buying a bag of farina at Bob's Red Mill last week. I followed the process outlined by Madhur Jaffrey in her World Vegetarian cookbook, but used my own combination of ingredients. We had neither curry leaves nor chana dal, but there was a bowl of leftover shelled edamame in the fridge, making this particular version a Japanese-South Indian fusion experiment. It was delicious though, unsurprisingly, the children were not impressed. You'll find the recipe here. It's clearly a foundation sort of dish--once you have the basics, I'm sure you can play with all sorts of variations. Madhur Jaffrey offers up three versions: cilantro-peanut, cashew and green bean, and a cabbage-pea combo. I plan on trying all of them. If you try it, let me know how it turns out.