Semolina with cashews, coconut and sev
4-6 servings

This is a delicious, comforting dish prepared across India with many delicious variations. Uppu means salt in many south Indian languages. The most popular version is made with semolina or suji. In Karnataka it is Uppittu or Kharabhat, in Maharashtra upeeth, in the Konkan, usli, and is served with coconut chutney. In the north, it is upma, served with yogurt; and in Tamil Nadu, uppumavu is creamy and moist. Upeeth is also made with rice and wheat vermicelli, day-old bread and corn. Our family version is crumbly semolina, topped with fried sev, cashews and fresh coconut. For a little colour and a dose of vitamins add cooked green peas to it.

1.25 tsps salt or to taste
1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
¾ cup finely chopped red or white onions
2 cups fine semolina or rava/sooji
½ cup cooked, drained green peas (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp ghee or oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
5 seeds of fenugreek (optional)
Pinch asafoetida powder
1/2 tsp husked, split black gram or urad dal (optional)
8 fresh curry leaves, torn
3 Indian green chillies, 1-1.25 inches” long, finely chopped
1/4 inch fresh ginger root, peeled, julienned (optional)

Optional garnishes
4 tbsp grated fresh; or frozen, defrosted, unsweetened coconut
1 cup store-bought plain, fine gram flour strings or sev
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)
4 tbsp unsalted, cashewnut pieces, fried or toasted

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pan with the salt and sugar. If you need to boil the green peas, add them to the water.
In the meanwhile, put the ghee or oil in a large kadhai or heavy-bottomed pan on high heat. (Semolina doubles in volume when cooked in hot water, so you need an oversized pan.)
When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them cook 30 seconds. Add the urad and asafoetida, the curry leaves, green chillies and ginger and cook 30-60 seconds.
Add the onions and sauté, till they soften; do not brown the onions.
Reduce heat to medium and add the semolina. Stir well and sauté for 5-6 minutes until semolina is fragrant and toasty.
Switch of the flame under the boiling water and slowly pour it over the semolina, with the green peas if you are using them. Stir vigorously. The semolina will boil and spit and slowly begin to solidify. Keep stirring to prevent lumps.
Reduce heat and continue to stir, till the semolina has a crumbly texture and all the water has evaporated. This will take several minutes.
Some prefer their upma sticky. Add a little extra water and cook it down for a shorter period.
Taste for salt, sweetness and adjust to your taste. Garnish with all the extras and serve warm with wedges of lime.