Indian food is varied, nuanced and full of fascinating ingredients. Upma is usually made from cream of wheat or “cracked wheat” (which you can actually find in your local Indian grocery store), but bulgur wheat is a fantastic alternative as it’s cheap, widely available and holds its shape well in this dish. The spices aren’t too much but do lend this recipe all of its flavor, and asafoetida is an absolute essential, as it often is in South Indian dishes.
1 cup bulgur wheat
3 cups water
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced
1 green chilli, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, finely diced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (if you can get it)
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 small red chilli, chopped
three fresh curry leaves (if you can get them)
a pinch of asafoetida
a pinch of salt
In a pan, bring the bulgur wheat and water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for around 20 minutes, until the wheat is tender and all the water is gone, then drain
In a pan, heat the oil, then add in the shallot, ginger and green chilli and heat for several minutes
In a pestle and mortar, crush the mustard seeds, urad dal, coriander seeds and garam masala, then add in the red chilli, asafoetida and curry leaves.
Add the mixture to the pan and cook for 2 minutes
Add in the drained wheat and mix well, stirring to coat
Cook for two or three minutes, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime
This is traditionally served with lime pickle, milk curds or coconut chutney. But you can serve with natural yogurt and whatever Indian pickle you have in the fridge; it’s important to get one soothing condiment and one spicy one.