Homestyle comfort food in under 20 minutes (and it’s vegan too!)
I was thrilled when I was invited to do my very first Facebook Live. The challenge: to cook a healthy dinner in 20 minutes for just $12. I had never before done a live cooking demo on-camera, so I was excited to give it a try. Little did I know at the time that over 70,000 people would be watching me from around the world!
The dish I chose to make is upma, which is savory cream of wheat, scented with cumin and mustard seeds, dotted with cashews and vibrant mixed vegetables. And if you watch the video below, you’ll see me prepare it step-by-step, trying to beat the clock.
Upma is comfort food. It’s an example of the type of meal you’ll rarely find in Indian restaurants here in the U.S., but one which we eat at home all the time. Typically, it’s served for breakfast or brunch, but I find that it also doubles as an easy, one-pot, weeknight dinner. Although this recipe is vegan, a great addition is to fry an egg and serve it on top of each bowl.
A few notes about ingredients: Black mustard seeds are available on Amazon or at Indian grocery stores, but you could substitute yellow mustard seeds from your local supermarket. Urad dal and Indian green chillies (sometimes called Thai birdseye chillies) can be found in Indian grocery stores (though neither ingredient is absolutely necessary to make this dish). Curry leaves (no relation to curry powder) can also be purchased at Indian grocery stores. Buy a bunch and keep them in the freezer. They’re a wonderful herb to have on hand, with a uniquely savory and slightly citrusy flavor.
Of course, you can find this dish and many others in my book, Bollywood Kitchen. Buy The Book
Savory Cream of Wheat with Mixed Veggies and Cashews
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (split black gram without skin) (optional)
3 Indian green chillies, cut in half (or 1 tsp. cayenne)
10 to 12 curry leaves
1 small-to-medium onion, roughly chopped
½ cup cashews
3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into 4 or 5 thick slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (e.g., peas, carrots, green beans)
1½ cups cream of wheat (2½ minute variety)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Mango pickle, for serving
Melted butter or ghee, for serving (omit if vegan)
Fresh cilantro, for garnish