Recipe: Upma

Nice pic from the internet ūüôā

Upma is served in my/my husband’s family as breakfast, much like a hearty porridge, but Americans might feel it is more of a lunch or dinner side. ¬†Warm, hearty, filling with a zing. ¬†I’m sorry there are few measurements, but these are the types of things that are done from memory and to taste. ¬†So try it first for yourself and then you can adjust the amounts of everything. ¬†It doesn’t seem like a dish you can really mess up too much. Good luck!


  • Curry Leaves
  • Sooji (Wheatlets)
  • A few green chilis and about 2 tbs worth of ginger
  • Canola Oil
  • Urad Dal
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Red onion
  • Vegetables – frozen carrots and peas (can substitute with green beans or tomato)


  1. Wash & dry curry leaves

    Wash and dry curry leaves
    Wash and dry curry leaves
  2. Roast sooji for a few minutes until there is a slight change in color.  Put in a glass container

    Roast Sooji
    Roast Sooji
  3. Cut/slice chilis and ginger

    green chillies and ginger
    green chillies and ginger
  4. Heat canola oil
  5. Put mustard seeds in oil, reduce heat, and cover to prevent seeds from popping out

    Mustard Seeds
    Mustard Seeds
  6. When popping stops, put in a few spoonfuls of Urad Dal

    Urad Dal
    Urad Dal
  7. Leave in until the white dal turns light brown
  8. Add green chili and ginger
  9. Stir oftenadd ginger and chillies
  10. Add oniononions
  11. Add vegetablesvegetables
  12. After a minute or two add boiling water.  2X water as the amount of sooji
  13. Add ripped curry leaves
  14. Bring to boil on high
  15. Add shoji slowly while stirring
  16. Half the heat
  17. Stir to prevent lumps
  18. When it’s thick, it’s done!


Side pointer from the FIL: If you trim the stems of coriander and stand the bunch upright in cup of water, they’ll last longer. ¬†The Bag keeps the moisture in.IMG_1521

p.s. Sorry the videos are HUGE.  Still figuring it out.


Hinduism 101: Pongal

How to Celebrate Pongal Abroad

January 15, 2016 – Pongal!

Happy Thai Pongal

Pongal is the Tamil Harvest Festival (think American’s Thanksgiving). ¬†Wikipedia says it’s called Thai Pongal, with Thai indicating the Tamil calendar. ¬†But perhaps it is like French Fries or Belgium waffles – don’t you wonder what they call them in their namesake countries? ¬†Well, Tamils seem to drop the¬†Thai. ¬†While the general feeling conveyed by my FIL is giving thanks to the earth for its bounty, further research indicates that the festival specifically thanks the Sun God for providing energy to the plants to grow.

Pongal also means overflow and a type of sweet rice, both of which now come in to play.

Celebrating the festival abroad includes:Moong Dal, Jaggery, Ginger, Tumeric, Rice

  1. Wash up!  You must be clean to conduct a ceremony.
  2. Don’t eat meat the entire day. ¬†Skip the eggs while you’re at it.
  3. Cook/boil the following in a pot that has never touched meat:
    1. Moong Dal
    2. RiceIMG_1512
  4. The froth may boil over… that’s ok – it’s part of the symbolism and celebration.
  5. Play a piece of raw tumeric and ginger on the top of the pot, though it can also be tied around.  Tumeric is auspicious.  Ginger gives you good health Рit is both sweet and not sweet, Ginger, Tumericwhich will help you get through the good and bad times in life.  It will make you resilient.  We all need that, right?
  6. Turn the heat off
  7. Add jaggery, a state of molasses/sugar, and cardamom seeds.
  8. Bring the food to your family alter and perform a pooja
  9. There you go. You’ve celebrated pongal abroad.

My next step included dashing off to work. ¬†But I can’t wait to celebrate this in its home state where I’m sure the multi-day festival¬†will include much more.

Pongee Festival in South India
Pongee Festival in South India

Lastly, I’d like to share a bit of wisdom my FIL imparted on me on this rainy Friday morning at daybreak…

Hinduism involves a lot of ritual because the religion comes from a time when people did not read or write. ¬†Therefore, the consistency and repetition of the rituals helped people remember and pass down their traditions. ¬†It becomes a natural reaction, subconscious and automatic; all of the individual things blend together. ¬† “Like Ctrl-Alt-Delete,” he laughed.

ctrl alt del

So there you have it folks, Hindu rituals are like “Ctril-Alt-Delete.”

Until next time…

Product Reviews: Indian Food

Product #1: Giant’s Frozen Chana Masala

Price: Approx. $4

Giant's Chana Masala
Giant’s Chana Masala

Review: It is what it is. ¬†A cheap, mild-tasting vegetarian dish, it can be an easy lunch to bring to work. ¬†Make sure you microwave long enough to prevent it from being more watery than it has to be. ¬†It’s not the amazing Indian food you may be used to, but homemade Indian food is time-consuming and restaurant-made food can get expensive. ¬†Here’s a passable budget alternative. ¬†Enjoy?

Props to Giant brand for tackling:


Product #2: Bookbinder’s Spicy Sriracha Sauce

Price: Approx. $3

Bookbinder's Sriracha Sauce
Bookbinder’s Sriracha Sauce

Review: I know, it’s not Indian. ¬†Sriracha sauce is originally from Thailand. ¬†But my Husband is always looking for a way to spice up his food, and Sriracha is often the way to do it. ¬†This creamy sauce is more like a spicy mayonnaise than a clear hot sauce. ¬†I used it on a bun-less burger for my first test. ¬†It certainly gave it a kick, but didn’t leave me running to the sink to stick my tongue under the faucet. ¬†I’d say it’s a good condiment for a mixed spice-level household.


Product #3: Patak’s Butter Chicken simmer sauce

Price: $6 – $11 depending on where you buy

Patak's Butter Chicken Meal
Patak’s Butter Chicken Meal

Review: ¬† gives it 2 stars for a reason. ¬†I was disappointed for the price I paid (around $8). ¬†Indian curries are rich and complex. ¬†This butter chicken sauce was missing the butter, cream and complexity. ¬†It was thin and heavy on the tomato paste, basically a tomato soup. ¬†If I served this to my MIL, I’d be kicked out of the family. ¬†The only possibility of redemption is if this sauce is not used as the only ingredient besides chicken and rice (as the jar suggests). ¬†It would have to be the base for other vegetables, spices and herbs – as one reviewers suggests: “begs you to add more ingredients like onions, garlic, peppers,tomatoes, thyme, turmeric, paprika, cilantro, etc.” ¬†But honestly, if I’m paying $8 for a sauce (and using the entire jar…) it should be the end all, be all. ¬†Next time, I’ll be trying it from scratch. ¬†Couldn’t be too much worse than this.

I followed the instructions to the tee, even “authentic results on the Mahatma Basmati rice”. ¬†So here’s the pics:

Butter Chicken Directions

Rie Instructions