Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ARF/5-a-day #26 - Colourful vermicelli upma

When I came across these wildly colourful vermicelli the last time I went to Birmingham (a fwe months ago) I couldnt resist buying them. (Have I mentioned that I'm a sucker for pretty colours?) I intended using them straightaway, but as often happens, I didnt get around to it, and the packet got shoved to the back of the cupboard. I rediscovered the pack when rootling about in the back of the bottom-most shelf for something else - cant remember what right now. Which reminds me, whatever it was, I still havent found it. (Reminder to self: Look for whatever-it-is and find it.)

Anyway, having rediscovered the colourful vermicelli, I decided I would try out
Ammani's recipe for semiya upma which would also be perfect for this week's ARF/5-a-day event.

I've tried making this upma before, but always ended up with an amorphous mass of vermicelli. Tasty enough, but not particularly friendly to look at. Certainly not the type of thing that you would let anybody but yourself have a look at, for fear of reactions like "ewwww... what's THAT?" or "You're gonna EAT it??" or "who yarked into your pan?".

To get back to the point - I'd had Ammani's recipe with me for ages, and it seemed a good time to follow her instructions and see if I ended up with a photogenic AND appetising result. In a nutshell, I did.

Ammani also gave me a tip for salvaging the upma in case it was drowning in too much water. Here's the tip verbatim: "If you've added too much water and think that the upma might get all gloopy, then add some 'cous cous' to the lot and keep stirring on high flame. Just before turning off the heat, add butter/oil. My mom-in-law is the undisputed queen of semiya upma. And that's her (not-so) secret trick."

I didnt have to follow that tip this time, but I thought I'd put it on my blog (just in case), with many thanks to Ammani and her mother-in-law.

PS. While the upma cooked away gently, I picked up the packet of vermicelli to look at the "free" recipe printed on the side. "Vanilla flavoured vermicelli", it said. Oooops! No wonder the recipe was for a kheer (pudding). I sniffed at the uncooked vermicelli but couldnt really make out much, so I decided that the upma would not register any vanilla flavour. Luckily I was right. Phew! That should teach me to read the nutrition facts and other information on food items before using/buying them.

PPS. I guess I'll have to try making a colourful kheer next.

Recipe for:
Colourful vermicelli upma


1 cup vermicelli (colourful or otherwise, broken into 2" pieces)
1 small potato, diced small
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small carrot, diced small
1/2 cup peas
(you can also add other vegetables - green beans, cauliflower, aubergine, etc)
2 green chillies (or to taste), minced

I used only one of those carrots!

2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
2 tsp chana dal
7 cashewnuts, broken into pieces
4-5 curry leaves, roughly torn
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp + 1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1.5 to 2 cups water
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnish


1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan and fry the vermicelli till it turns a light brown. Set aside.

2. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil and put in the mustard seeds. Cover and let them pop.

3. Then add the green chillies, dals, curry leaves, asafoetida powder and cashew nuts and stir till the nuts and dals begin to turn a light brown.

4. Now add the onions and saute till they become translucent, then add the chopped vegetables. Dont add the peas yet, especially if they're very tender. Saute for 6-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are half cooked.

5. Pour in 1.5 cups water along with the coriander and cumin powder. Stir well and bring the water to a boil, then let it simmer for 5 minutes or till the vegetables are nearly cooked.

6. Now add the fried vermicelli and the green peas along with salt. Keep stirring until the water is absorbed, on high heat. If the vermicelli is still not quite cooked, add the remaining half cup water and continue stirring till done. There should not be any water remaining.

7. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with coconut chutney.


Vaishali said...

Oh, what delightful looking vermicelli, Shammi. I wish one could eat them raw.
Btw, I have put up a quiz about fellow food-bloggers. ;-)
If you want to solve it, here’s the link.


Vineela said...

Hi Shammi,
i LOVE THE UPMA ALWAYS and this colorful upma is making to prepare if i get.

KA said...

Shammi, I love colors too!! I never found them in my grocery store though!

indianadoc said...

Arey!where did you get this rainbow vermicelli...that's indeed very beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Now that's a picture! I NEED some of that pasta!

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

Wow, that is some orchiaceous upma, honey!

archana said...

Wish i could find this vermicelli somewhere here, i have never seen anything like it. That photo is just awesome. Can't wait to see the colorful kheer.

Nee said...

ooh, looks delish!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

What a great idea. Looks really good! I have never really seen these anywhere here in Germany. But certainly worth a try with the normal colord pasta!

Anonymous said...

Looks great..I haven't seen such colored vermicelli anywhere near our place..Have to so a bit of searching next time..I'm sure my kid will love it..

Crystal said...

Wow - I've never seen this before. The colors are so pretty and the meal looks very yummy!!


Unknown said...

Hey Shammi! What a riot of colours- and I havent even seen any such thing in India- Lovely pictures-

Im sure that tastes yum too :)

Catherine said...

that's gorgeous!

GourmayMasala said...

Shammi - That looks really pretty and nutritious! I couldn't supress a chuckle when you mentioned the vanilla flavored vermicelli. Reminded me of the number of times I had picked up Vanilla flavored yoghurt by mistake. Unfortunately vanilla flavored curd rice does not taste good at all :)

Unknown said...

Ohh tatz beautiful.

Mamatha said...

That looks just so PRETTY! Thanks for sharing the picture with us.