On gloomy, rainy mornings, no matter where in the world you are, you wish for a bowl of your favorite comfort food and a steaming cup of coffee to wash it down with. In the Tadka kitchens, on rainy mornings or otherwise, there’s always room for something fresh, something new, something snappy..to be created with a tweak and a nudge over a time-tested traditonal recipe. The modest Indian version of grits, the Upma, has been done to death on every food show and food blog. At Tadka, we wish to raise the bar on this staple food, to resurrect it from its hackneyed state, to an innovative form that is big on nutrition and flavor and low on the hype.
How do we stick to the traditional rules and yet manage to weave in an avantgarde idea or two? We don’t play tease with our ingredients. We don’t use cornmeal as a substitute for semolina, nor do we spice up semolina with the regular elements of grits. We puree and stir, sprinkle and scour..and therein emerges a winner, a winner that brings the true Tadka-style grit to bland grits. To make this Tadka-style Upma with Corn Sauce, here’s what you need to do, aside from wearing your best chef hat, imaginary or real, and your best smile with that chin looking up, up, up:
1/2 cup semolina, roasted until light brown
Salt to taste
1 cup of water, let to boil rollingly
1 large onion, finely minced
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup fresh corn (if using frozen, thaw well) pureed coarsely with a splash of water, a pinch of salt and a dash of chilli powder
4 tablespoons light olive oil
Tadka elements – 1 teaspoon each of mustard, cumin, urad dal and a dash of turmeric
In a pan, warm the oil and season with the Tadka elements, as usual – first the mustard, once it pops, the cumin, urad and turmeric. Add the onion and jalapeno, fry until browned. Add the semolina and salt, mix well. Add the corn sauce and allow it to bind the semolina together in a slightly sticky, yet crumbly mass. Turn the heat down, add the water slowly, stirring steadily until all the water has been incorporated into the mixture. Cover and let cook on low heat for about 7 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with a spicy dry chutney of your choice. You’ll look at the gloomy world outside through your rain-beaten window, without feeling the least bit perturbed. And don’t forget that cuppa..