Tag Archives: South India

Savory Breakfasts Rule In India – Here’s One Mouth- Watering One to Create

By Lakshmi:

Every time I go back to India, I look forward to the food.  Every relative or friend you visit insists you partake in a meal with them.  And every road side stall, fancy restaurant and five-star hotel beckons you with choices galore.  One humble savory food that can be prepared on a budget, but feels like a hearty meal is Uppuma.  While there are dozens of varieties of Uppuma, a visit to Saravana Bhavan (that ubiquitous South Indian chain) got me hooked to the kind made with roasted wheat vermicelli.

So what is this Uppuma you may ask?  Simply put, it is defined in many places as a porridge.  In my vocabulary, porridge is a gooey, mushy eat.  Take a look at the picture above.  Does this in any way resemble the porridge you know?  Instead to me it is almost like a pilaf, the nutty taste of the fine vermicelli, blending with the vegetables and chillies, a perfect crunch imparted by the mustard seeds, dal and cashew nuts with the final touch of coconut bringing in the ultimate tropical feel.  Have a plate with a steaming cup of coffee and you will be transported to a culinary heaven that you may not have experienced to date.

Without further adieu, here is my recipe for the Vermicelli Uppuma that is created frequently in my kitchen (since it takes only 20 minutes to prepare).  If you want to totally delight guests at an event with an appetizer that will keep them hooked and guessing, simply put spoonfuls of the completed dish in little phyllo cups and serve!

Recipe for Vermicelli Uppuma – Serves 6 

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted wheat vermicelli (I use the Bambino brand available at Indian stores and on Amazon.com)

A handful of cashew nuts broken

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp urad dal

4 green chillies finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped

1 red onion finely chopped

1 red pepper finely diced

1 carrot finely grated

.5 cup of fresh or frozen green peas

1.5 tsp salt

2 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tbsp clarified butter or take an extra tbsp of oil

Freshly shredded coconut (3 tbsps)

2 cups water

Method:

Heat the oil and butter in a large non stick pan or wok.  When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, green chillies, ginger, cashew nuts and onions.  Fry till the mustard seeds pop and the onions and cashew nuts turn brown.  Add two cups of water, salt and the vegetables and bring the water to a boil.  Now slowly add the vermicelli and stir continuously till the vermicelli is blended and thick and appears to have the consistency of dried porridge.  Add freshly grated coconut, give it another swish and cover promptly and take off the stove.

Let dish rest for 15 minutes (covered) and fluff before serving.  When done, it will be fluffy and each grain of vermicelli should be separate.  Serve on plates for a meal or in phyllo cups as an appetizer.  Don’t forget to bring out steaming hot cups of coffee.

If you’d rather get an instant Uppuma fix, head to one of the many Saravana Bhavan restaurants in the US and abroad.  A complete listing can be found at

http://www.saravanabhavan.com/restaurants.php?

Walking the drained beds of the Kaveri River

By Siddhi: 

Hey readers! I’m currently writing from Trichy, an ancient city in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. For the next three months, I will be working on researching and implementing solutions with various grassroots initiatives in rural education reform in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. To read more about my trip, you can follow my personal blog at www.siddhisundar.com/journal, where I am trying to keep as active a journal as possible throughout the duration of my adventure. I will also be A Global Affair’s official India correspondent (that sounded really cool when I wrote it out!) for the next few months, so I’ll be posting various materials I find interesting.

Yesterday, my equally adventurous uncle and I walked across a drained Kaveri River, a large body of water that flows from the state of Karnataka through the Deccan Plateau, traversing much of South India before pouring into the Bay of Bengal. Once it starts to rain significantly again here in Trichy, the river will once again be brimming with water and life. This was one of those very rare and naturally intriguing circumstances where a combination of geography and timing allowed for a pretty unusual physical experience. We walked from the island of Srirangam to the central areas of Trichy by using the dried beds of the Kaveri River as a linkage. It was certainly a memorable time. Here are some pictures from the walk:

Cape Comorin – A Jewel in the Southern Tip of India

Vivekananda Memorial Kanyakumari
Source: Wikipedia

By Lakshmi:

Cape Comorin also known locally as Kanya Kumari is indeed one of those jewels in the southern tip of India which is overlooked by many a tourist.  However, as a kid with family roots in southern India, this was a regular stop and it is such a special place that anyone visiting southern India should seriously consider spending at least a day here.

– First, Cape Comorin is where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea all come together.  This confluence is just a special spot.  And to watch either sunrise or sunset or both here is indeed a very beautiful moment.

– Legend has it that one of the Indian goddesses, Kanya Devi did penance here to marry Lord Shiva and when he did not show up at the wedding, all the wedding preparations turned to stone.  At the beautiful temple dedicated to this goddess, you can see these stone objects.  Whether it is fact or fiction, the legend has been part of me since my childhood and a stop at this temple is always on my list.

– The most stunning aspect of Cape Comorin though is the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.  Dedicated to the spiritual leader Vivekananda, this memorial stands on two rocks away from the mainland.  Once you arrive at the location, there are at least three things bound to take your breath away.  1) Just standing at this memorial and looking at the vastness of the ocean surrounding you makes you feel like a small part of this universe. 2)  In the memorial, there is a meditation room lit only with a giant “Om” sign.  I have never seen a more peaceful spot on planet earth and even a few moments in this tranquil environment located in the ocean are very special. 3) On a rock here, there is a set of small footprints which are believed to be of the goddess when she did penance.  It is a revered spot and you can watch a throng of devotees line up to get a special glimpse.

Apart from all the spiritual, religious and natural attractions, there is another reason this place absolutely rocks.  It is an amazing spot to watch a sea of colorful humanity….from the small food stalls that serve piping hot meals to the vendors that sell sea shell trinkets to the women who sell flowers, the site will certainly be a treat for your senses.

Cape Comorin can be reached by train, bus or car from many major southern Indian cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Madurai and Trivandrum. Once you get there, you can take a ferry to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.  To learn more about visiting, click here:

http://www.bharatonline.com/tamilnadu/travel/kanyakumari/index.html