If you don’t have semolina, you can always use good old Cream of Wheat. It works just as well and tastes great (just buy the PLAIN instant, 1 minute or 2½ minute varieties). Rava or sooji is easily available in every Indian grocery store and comes in coarse, fine and superfine varieties (all will work but will have varying textures).
For a huge timesaver, feel feel to buy the pre-roasted rava/sooji at your local Indian grocery store.
UPMA (Savory Semolina)
1½ cup semolina or sooji (or Cream of Wheat or you can also use Cream of Rice)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
3-4 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 cup green peas (frozen is fine)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal, (skinned & split black gram dal)
¼ cup toasted unsalted peanuts (or you can add cashew pieces)
6-8 fresh curry leaves
salt, to taste
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly grated coconut for garnish (optional)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large deep dry skillet on medium heat, add the semolina. Keep stirring continuously so as not to burn & until the semolina turns light brown in color and a nutty fragrance is emitted. Remove the semolina from the skillet & keep aside until needed. If you are using the pre-roasted rava/sooji - this step can be omitted :-)
In a small saucepan, add 3-3.5 cups of water & bring to a boil.
Now to the same large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the oil. Now carefully, add the mustard seeds. When the splatter subsides, add the urad dal long with the green chilies & curry leaves. After 30 seconds or so, add the onions & stir-fry until the onions turn slightly brown. Now add the ginger, stir and add the green peas. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add in the semolina & season with salt. Stir to combine all of the ingredients & slowly add 3 cups of boiling water, stirring continuously while adding the water. Stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes. The upma is done when the semolina has absorbed all the water & the semolina has completely softened. Lastly add the lemon juice, stir and garnish with coconut, cilantro & extra lemon wedges. Serve hot with Indian snacks (sea & chewda mixes).
Instead of fresh green chilies, add dried red chilies instead.
You could also add a tomato or other vegetables such as carrots or small cauliflower florets.
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