This is my standby easy everyday supper. Upma is a breakfast dish from the South of India, and normally made with rava or sooji (semolina). But I love this vermicelli version, as its so kid friendly and easy to prepare. In fact, today it took me less than 20 minutes to make this dish for supper, and that includes the prep.
The nice thing about this upma is that you can really make it your own with the addition of any kind of vegetables you have on hand. I chose not to add any, as we already had a vegetable side dish, and I wanted to keep it quick.
I used MTR's short broken vermicelli, available in any Indian grocer, and I adapted this recipe from the back of the packet [yes, again :-)] You will be completely surprised at how much flavour is packed into this dish, especially with the tiny ingredient list. The curry leaves are the main source of flavour, so you can't substitute them, am fraid. Again, you should be able to find them in your local Asian grocer, and you could do what I do, that is, buy a big pack and then just chuck them in the freezer. Its way more economical that way (well, it's much nicer if you have your own curry leaf tree, now that's a suggestion to the gardener in the family, eh?)
Other than that, you are free to add pretty much anything you like! Try steamed, seasonal vegetables, beans, lentils, pulses, nuts... the list is endless.
2 cups of broken, short vermicelli (I use the MTR brand)
1 + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp split black gram (optional)
1 tsp yellow split peas (optional)
2 sprigs of curry leaves
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 a small red onion, diced small
Salt to taste (I use about 3/4 tsp)
2 cups of boiling water
Handful fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
1/4 cup chopped, cooked beans or peas
1/4 cup chopped, cooked carrots
1/4 cup potatoes, cubed small and boiled till tender
In a shallow pan, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil, and fry the vermicelli on a medium to high heat, until it is a light gold colour. This step is important to stop the vermicelli clumping together.
In a pot, heat the remaining vegetable oil, and pop in the mustard seeds, the black gram and yellow split peas (if using) and the curry leaves. Stir and fry until the mustard starts to splutter.
Add the diced onion and grated ginger, and cook for an additional 2 - 3 minutes, until the onion is soft.
Pour in the boiling water, and make sure it's at a rolling boil. (At this stage you can add the chopped vegetables to the pot)
Add the vermicelli and salt to the pot, and cook, stirring for about 5 - 6 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the noodles are soft. Taste and add a touch more salt if required. Stir in the fresh coriander. Use a fork to fluff up and serve.