A long time ago, Priti and I shared an apartment in Bhopal for three months, while we worked on a project at the BHEL factory.
One of the many things that made it such a memorable time was the cooking we did together.
It was also where I got my tea habit, but that is another story.
This post is about the delicious sevai (vermicelli) upma that Priti used to make, the taste of which has stayed with me all these years.
So recently I asked her to mail the recipe to me since I had forgotten both the process and the proportions of the various ingredients.
She sent me a picture too –
Here’s what she told me to do, in her words, with some variations of my own in parentheses.
1 generous tbsp of oil to roast the vermicelli in
1tsp mustard seeds
2-3 carrots julienned
1 green capsicum julienned (I used red bell pepper today)
julienned hari mirchi (I had no green chillies so I used half a whole red chilli)
1 sliced onion (optional and so I cooked the upma without)
1 cup measure of vermicelli (I used a thicker variety since the usual kind was not available the day I went looking for it)
6-7 curry leaves
2 tbsp shelled peanuts (optional and so I cooked the upma without)
1. Roast the vermicelli in the oil on a thick bottom/non stick pan. You have to keep stirring the vermicelli otherwise it tends to burn quickly. I like to roast it fairly dark brown but not burnt-it’s a fine line (I agree – I found myself stirring constantly !)
2. Set aside the roasted vermicelli. In the now empty pan, add another 1.5 tsp (I used a little more) of oil , then add mustard seeds and curry leaves. If you are using onion cook them until brown. Then add the vegetables, stir 4-5 times (I covered the pan for a few minutes to cook the vegetables, stirring every once in a while)
3. Add 2 cups of water, salt,the vermicelli and the peanuts .
4. Cook, covered, on low heat. Watch for the water- if it dries out and the vermicelli does not become almost double it’s original size then add some more. Sometimes I just turn off the stove and let it cook in the steam.
5. Add lime juice; the vermicelli tend to unstick once the lime juice is added so you can add the juice, leave the upma covered for a couple of minutes and then transfer to the final serving dish.
Here’s how my version looks, which I have made for lunch today.
Some of the girls’ reactions –
After the first forkful, Indira said “ummm, very nice !”
A few minutes later – “It’s delicious, and I am going to call it pasta upma” (I guess that because the thicker vermicelli I used does it make it look
a bit like spaghetti !)
And Noor says “It’s excellent, this noodles upma“.
Thank you, Priti Aunty, for a very successful lunch.