Tag Archives: upma

Bread and Breakfast

This Monday morning, we all had a serious case of the blues. We dragged our feet from room to room, bracing ourselves for the week ahead.

I went into the kitchen to get started on breakfast. When I opened the packet of bread, the first slice that I took out had a hole – that was in the shape of a bird’s head – right in the middle of the slice.

This was so strange that I called out to my kids. They came running to see what the excitement was! The blues vanished, as we debated how the bread slice turned out this way, when all the other slices were perfect.

We discussed various theories and what possible bird it could be, and then finally popped it into the toaster. Just a little bit of breakfast excitement and laughter to beat the blues.

This brought back memories of my childhood, and breakfast times at home.

When we were growing up, my parents had this rule – ‘No skipping breakfast, ever.’

When we grew into teenagers ‘who knew everything’, we tried our best to slip away without breakfast, but our parents had antennae and tentacles that caught us every single time.

I remember fun times when we ran around the dining table trying to slip away, but our Dad was at the main door and mom was at the back door. We could only leave after we had had our milk, and idli or dosa or upma or bread. We frowned and grimaced, and left home, still wolfing down remnants of our breakfast.

When I left home for college, there was no one to remind me that I had to eat breakfast, but then by mid-morning my stomach would rumble and I would remember mom and her yummy dishes. But these thoughts were soon forgotten as there were so many things to see, to learn and to do.

Corporate life was no different – I would only eat a late lunch. It took a few years for the wisdom behind having a wholesome breakfast to sink in. And by that time, I had become a mother.

The cycle started again, now it was I who was running behind my daughter, and later behind my son, trying to build ‘breakfast wisdom’ from their formative years.

But History repeats itself. Now my teen tries to slip away unnoticed, if I am not breathing down her neck.

“I’m running late, mom.”

This is her constant refrain. So, I do the ‘door blocking annoying mom act’.

But if I am any example, maybe life will come a full circle again.

The humble ‘upma’

South Indian cooking has a very long list of tasty dishes from its four states; dishes that range from spicy to tangy to salty to sweet, and many other flavours.

There are a few dishes that are common to all four states, and one of them is the ‘upma’. It is not served with too much fanfare. In restaurants, on the menu card, the upma  is usually listed far down the menu, after one has run through the exotic dosas, vadas and idli varieties, all of which have pride of place in South Indian cooking. 

The  upma is made from semolina. It can be cooked plain, or made interesting with vegetables and cashewnuts.

Why do I talk about the upma, you may wonder? This is because the upma has not been given its due.

In India, at least when we were growing up, people did not call and inform that they were visiting. They would just show up,  unannounced. It was the norm, and at any time of day or night, friends and family were very welcome.

The moment the guests landed up, the kitchen committee comprising my mom and grandmom would kick into high gear. 

And this is where the upma requires to be treated with respect. 

      Courtesywww.dreamstime.com

It was the easiest dish to make for impromptu visitors. The base ingredient, semolina, also lends itself beautifully to be made into a sweet dish called kesari. 

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com
So, the upma was served along with piping hot, frothy filter coffee. Adults had the upma with pickle, while kids had it with sugar.
The upma usually saved the day. It is one of my favourite dishes, though there were times when my sisters and I would pick out all the vegetables in the upma and hide them under our plates, in total innocence, not realizing that our mom could figure out what we had been upto.

Do you have any such dish like the upma? Would love to know!