Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.
Uppuma is a traditional South Indian dish that’s typically made with semolina (suji). It can be made with or without vegetables, depending on one’s preferences, and is usually eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
Mum used to make uppuma for us as a snack with peas and grated carrot during my school years. These days, I make it very simply using organic polenta, for a gluten-free version. I don’t add any vegetables – because I serve it as the carb component to vegetable curries or dhal, instead of rice.
Serves 4 | Cooling time 30–40 minutes | gluten-free, dairy-free option, vegetarian, vegan option
- 2 tbsp ghee, or coconut/extra virgin olive oil (vegan)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 small (½ large) red onion, finely sliced
- 1 stem curry leaves (optional)
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 1 cup fine organic polenta (non-instant)
- 4 cups freshly boiled water
- sea salt, to taste
In a medium-sized, heavy-based pot, heat the oil/ghee. Add the mustard seeds, and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the seeds start to pop, turn down the heat to medium and add the onion, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
Stir continually for up to five minutes, or until the onions caramelise. Add turmeric and chilli, and pan fry for another few seconds. Then pour in the polenta, and toast for a couple of minutes over gentle heat. Add the freshly boiled water, and allow the polenta to simmer gently. Stir often so the polenta doesn’t stick to the pan and become lumpy.
After about 10 minutes, stir in a teaspoon of salt. It’ll take roughly 20–30 minutes for the polenta to cook – you want it soft and creamy, not gritty. Taste to check.
Once the polenta is done, taste and add more salt if you wish.
Serve with dhal or any other type of curry that takes your fancy.
If you wish to eat your uppuma for breakfast (as a savoury porridge), you can add a small zucchini and carrot (both grated finely), and a ¼ cup of frozen green peas to the step where you toast the polenta (before adding the water), and serve it with one or two boiled/poached/fried eggs.
To cook polenta traditionally, with other variations, take a look at this post.
A few weeks ago, I introduced a good friend of mine (let’s call her Jacinta) to another good friend (let’s call her Linda).
At this catch-up, Jacinta learnt a few things about Linda’s life (as did Linda about Jacinta’s). Things such as how Linda lives in the city for 3 days of the week, then escapes to her country home 2 hours’ drive away for the remainder – where Linda gardens, paints and writes, with her partner, dog and cat to keep her company.
It sounded all so romantic.
So, later, when Linda had left for her country abode, Jacinta said to me, “Wow, I’d love to do something like that. To have a house in the country with a backyard for a garden and chooks.”
“Yeah, I suppose it sounds lovely and a lifestyle to aspire to”, I said. “But I just know myself. I’d get bored. I need the hustle and bustle of city life nearby, with plenty of facilities, and to be near my family and friends [and great coffee!]. Plus, even though I love the idea of having my own chickens, their pooping everywhere would just s#*t me.”
Jacinta nodded her head. “I understand what you mean. I think I’d get bored, too. And I’m not a keen gardener either. May be I’m just in love with the idea of this kind of lifestyle, but, if I were to be honest, it’s not really me.”
This is an example of what I call ‘romanticising’. Many of us do it throughout our lives, to varying degrees. I feel it’s become rampant in the age of social media, where everyone’s ‘best’ lives are on show. And so we live in a fear-of-missing-out culture, with a comparison mentality.
My particular romanticising vice is comparing my marriage to the relationships of others – their partner is very romantic, they organise weekends away, hold surprise birthday parties, talk for hours, have many common interests … etc.
When I catch myself in the act of romanticising, I ask myself – is this what I really want in my relationship, too, or would it annoy me? And if it’s what I ‘think’ I really want, then which dark corner if my soul is the light shining upon?
That is, what is it that I’m really feeling, it’s root cause, and what’s the true answer. Because wanting my relationship to mimic someone else’s certainly isn’t it – since romanticising about one aspect of a person’s life never gives the whole picture, the reality.
The thing is, the more you romanticise about wanting your life to be more like others, the more you miss out on living yours. Which can turn you into a miserable sod.
So, whenever you feel the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, stop romanticising and water your own grass. But make sure to do it your own way.