Corn Curry

In the summer when corn is plentiful I always think about this flavorful corn dish. My cousin shared this recipe with me years ago – I have made it many times with both Indian and western meals (adjusting the amount of green chilies according to taste).

Curry leaves do add to the flavor of the dish but they are optional – they are the only ingredient you may need to buy from an Indian grocery store (if you don’t already have a curry leaf plant in your garden!).

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Ingredients

1 large green chili

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (separated)

2 teaspoons grated ginger

13 curry leaves, approximately (separated)

1/2 cup cilantro leaves + more for garnish

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons oil

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup half and half

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3 whole dry red chillies

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

4 curry leaves

1 tablespoon flour

4 cups  fresh cut corn or frozen

1 -1/2 teaspoons salt

Method

Blend the green chili, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons ginger, 8 curry leaves, 1/2 cup cilantro, water and oil into a paste.

Heat oil, add remaining 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and mustard seeds, and as the mustard seeds start to crackle add the dry red chillies and 5 remaining curry leaves . Stir and add the green paste, cook for about 1 minute. Add the flour and and stir till well blended. Add the milk & half and half very slowly to make a thick paste. Bring to a boil.

Add the corn and salt and cook for about 4 minutes .

Garnish with cilantro leaves.

 

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Upuma

In the southern part of India, Upuma, a simple breakfast, snack or lunch dish is made from cream of wheat mixed with a few spices.

The cream of wheat used in this dish is of a finer variety, bought in the Indian grocery stores. The cream of wheat found in the supermarket can be used, it is just a little coarser in texture.

When my daughter was working in Atlanta I came up with this home made “upuma mix” which she could use when needed for a quick dinner.  Adding boiling water & some frozen or left over veggies,  it is also nutritious as cream of wheat has iron and some protein.

 

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Ingredients

Upuma Mix:

  1 cup cream of wheat

  1 tablespoon oil

  1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  1 small red dry chilly, broken

  1 teaspoon urad dal

  1 small onion, finely chopped

  1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

  1 teaspoon salt

1 small tomato, chopped (optional)

1/2 cup cooked vegetables  (green peas, beans, carrots etc)

Preparation

Homemade Upuma Mix:

NOTE: When I’m making the mix, I typically make 4 times this recipe, and store it in the fridge. 

Heat the cream of wheat in a skillet over medium heat until it turns light brown, stirring constantly. Remove from pan and set aside.

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Heat oil in a skillet; add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the red dry chilly. Stir for a few seconds and add the onion. Cook the onion till brown, add the ginger and stir for 1-2 more minutes.

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Add the urad dal and nuts, if using, and stir until the dal turns brown (for a few more minutes). Add the toasted cream of wheat and salt and stir well until the cream of wheat is thoroughly mixed in.

If using as a “mix” cool and store in a container in the refrigerator.

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling, and if using vegetables add them now (I added beans that I had in the refrigerator, and a small tomato). Turn down to simmer and add 1 cup of your homemade upuma mix, stir until slightly thickened.

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Cover and continue to simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is thick.  Upuma is usually served hot, with a little bit of Indian hot mango or lime pickle.

Introduction to Indian Spices

IMG_1360Traditional Masala Box (Indian Spice Box)

Turmeric, Black Mustard seeds, Coriander powder, Cumin seeds, Cumin powder, Chili powder (cayenne pepper), Garam masala (in the center)

Indian recipes use a variety of spices – whole, chopped, ground, roasted, sautéed, fried and as topping. Below are the most common spices used in most recipes. All of these spices can be found at your local Indian grocery stores, and many can be found at Whole Foods (check the bulk section for lower prices) or other natural food markets.

The NY Times also has a great short video on how to toast and grind your own spices using a spice (coffee) grinder or mortar/pestle.

Turmeric

IMG_1364Turmeric is a root of a plant from the ginger family. It is dried and ground to fine powder and is bright yellow in color. It should be used in very small amounts in cooking as it has a slight bitter taste.  It is also called curcumin, and it is known to have health benefits for arthritis and anti inflammatory conditions.

Black Mustard Seeds

IMG_1362Black mustard seeds are the small seeds of mustard plants, and available at Indian grocery stores.  These seeds release a pungent flavor when added to hot oil and they “pop”.

Coriander/Cilantro

Coriander SeedsCoriander also known as cilantro, is an annual herb. The dried seed of the coriander plant (above) is used whole, crushed (below) or ground finely.

Corinader Powder Coriander or cilantro leaves can be used as a garnish or added to various dishes in recipes.

Coriander leaves (Cilanthro)

Cumin

IMG_1363Cumin is used as the seed or as a powder, and occasionally roasted as well.

Cummin Powder

Chili Powder/Dry Red Chilies

IMG_1365Chili powder is ground from dry cayenne peppers – it is different from Mexican “chili powder’. The intensity of heat can vary depending on the brand, so start with a minimum amount and adjust according to taste.

IMG_1387Cayenne peppers are dried in the sun and are used to flavor recipes with a touch of heat by frying them.

Cardamom

IMG_1381These are pods containing tiny seeds, from a plant of the ginger family.  It can be used whole or the seeds can be removed and powdered. It is used to flavor desserts and other dishes.

Garam Masala

IMG_1366Garam Masala is a blend of various Indian spices and typically consists of: Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cumin, and Cardamom. It is generally used in meat or chicken recipes.

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