01 December, 2008

Semiya Upma: Most loved Tiffin item

Semiya/Vermicelli Upma
What would you like to have for breakfast?
~Without blinking~ Maggi…

Anything particular you want for dinner?
~Eagerly~ Yes, Maggi please!

What does my special girl wants for her birthday meal?
~Clapping hands happily~ I want Maggi Amma.

There are not many vegetables for curry today. I am wondering what to cook for Sunday lunch!
~Screaming~ How about Maggi?

What should I cook for…?
~Jumping up and down and screaming at top of my voice~ Maggi, Maggi, Maggi….
Well, that’s how much I loved (still love) Maggi Noodle. Be it morning or evening or night, be it Sunday or Monday or Friday, and be it some special days or bad days or festival days. All I wanted to have was bowlful of Maggi noodles with good helping of Tomato ketchup. Then one day unimaginable thing happened at home.

It all happened many years ago and I still remember that particular day in July. I was at school and the last period we had on that particular day was boring class on Geography. I was happily dozing in the corner bench and was suddenly awakened by the heavy thunders and screeching school bell. And then it started raining heavily; you know the typical Monsoon rains. Rubbing my eyes and yawning I came out of school building and got into the waiting school bus to take me back home with my sister and friends. While the heavy drops of rains lashed the bus windows I imagined reaching home in few minutes and my Amma waiting for us with large umbrella near door. I was all eager to get home and sit in my high wooden stool in warm kitchen and eat big bowl of Maggi noodles with Tomato Ketchup as I had told my Amma that morning I wanted Maggi Noodles when I got back from school. Just few more minutes of wait…

Everything was same as I imagined it to be. Amma was waiting for us near large cast iron gates. And she was indeed holding big umbrella for us. The kitchen smelt heavenly from the aroma of something delicious wafting from big Kadai on gas burner. And yes, Amma had indeed prepared Noodles for us. Eagerly I reached out for my bowl of delicious Maggi Noodles… But… But… But…

There was something really wrong with the Maggi Noodles that Amma had made for us. These noodles were pearly white with specks of gold and were studded with jewel like vegetables. There were carrots that looked like corals and peas and beans which just resembled beautiful glittering emeralds. While tomatoes looked like red rubies, mustard seeds glowed like black pearls. That was not definitely my favourite yellow Maggi Noodles. My yellow Maggi Noodles were definitely missing…

After little bit of dissecting, poking, twisting and turning around I tasted a spoonful of this special noodles. Mmm… They tasted fine… Took another spoonful… Mmm… It tasted little better… Yet another spoonful of noodles… And I was hooked… That’s how I fell hard for Semiya Upma or Vermicelli Upma.

Semiya Upma is usually served as breakfast or Tiffin in South India. For all those who are wondering what Tiffin is, it is in-between-meals snacks served at most homes in India. I usually make this during weekends for lazy brunches or serve as dinner. Addition of mixed vegetables makes it a wholesome and delicious meal. If you are too lazy or not very fond of vegetables, all you have to do is just skip them. Add little bit of Garam Masala if you want it to be little spicier. I usually like mine simple, without many over-powering spices. While chopped onions add nice crunch and sweetness, tomatoes and lime juice gives is a tangy note. Green chillies and ginger are the basic ingredients that give mild spicy note to this dish. Mixed vegetables not only add more flavour and nutrition, it also adds lot of colour to otherwise plain vermicelli. I usually roast vermicelli in little ghee till golden as ghee gives wonderful aroma and flavour to this dish. If you are too health conscious then skip ghee and add any vegetable or sunflower oil. But please restrain from using strong flavoured oil, especially Olive oil as it will simply spoil the taste. So shall we proceed to today’s recipe of Semiya Upma?

Roasted Vermicelli and Vegetables for Upma

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Semiya Upma (Rice Vermicelli/Noodles cooked with Vegetables and flavoured with tempering of Spices)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4-5
Recipe Source: Amma
2 cups Vermicelli (I used MTR Vermicelli)
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 large Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium Carrot, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
6-8 French Beans, trimmed and cut into 1 cm pieces
¼ cup Green Peas (I used frozen)
2-3 Green Chillies, slit (Adjust acc to taste)
¾ inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
2-3 tbsp Fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp Sugar (Optional but recommended)
1-2 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
½ tbsp Ghee or Oil
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
½ tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
1-2 Dry Red Chilli, halved
2 strings Curry Leaves
10-12 Cashew Nuts or 2 tbsp Roasted Unsalted Peanuts (Optional), roasted to golden in little oil or ghee
1 tbsp Oil or Ghee
Semiya/Vermicelli Upma

Heat ½ tbsp of Oil or Ghee in a pan and add Vermicelli to it. Roast this vermicelli on medium to low heat till it turns light golden brown in colour, about 3-4 minutes. Let it cool.
Bring about 3-4 cups of water to boil and add little salt to it. Now add roasted vermicelli and let it cook uncovered till it is cooked through. Add more water if needed. It takes around 4-6 minutes to cook all the vermicelli. Drain water using a colander and keep it aside until it’s needed.
Heat tbsp of oil or ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When it starts to pop and splutter, add channa dal, urad dal, halved red chillies and curry leaves. Sauté till lentils turn golden, about 1 minute.
Now add finely chopped onion, slit green chillies and ginger. Sauté till onion turns light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Now add finely chopped tomatoes and cook till they turn pulpy and release their juice, about 2 minutes.
Add sugar, carrots, beans and green peas and cook covered for 2-3 minutes till vegetables turn tender.
Mix in cooked vermicelli, finely chopped coriander leaves, roasted cashews and lime juice. Adjust the salt and cook for another 2 minutes for all the flavours to blend well. Serve hot with any chutney or pickle and a dollop of chilled yogurt, the way I like it.

On other note I am taking break from blogging. Yes, you guessed it right. I am in India, enjoying both sun and sea in my native. :) I might post in between but can’t promise anything at this time. So have fun friends….

Chao… Till we meet again