Friday, June 21, 2013

Father's Day Monkey Bread and Uppama/Savory Cream of Wheat

This past Sunday was my husband's birthday as well as Father's Day. To celebrate my son and I made him a special brunch. My son baked monkey bread, and I cooked uppama, savory Indian cream of wheat.

Monkey Bread

My son likes to make monkey bread from scratch for special occasions (e.g., Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas). He uses the recipe in the article "Let's Make Monkey Bread" from the December/January 2005 edition of Family Fun magazine. You can find it here Let's Make Monkey Bread. Since it is time consuming to make, he either mixes the dough or prepares the bread in the bundt pan and lets it rise in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, he continues preparing the bread and/or baking it.

Uppama/Savory Cream of Wheat

I do not like the texture of cooked oatmeal or cream of wheat, however, this savory dish is a family favorite. The recipe is based on "Zakiya's Uppama" from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. The original recipe calls for cabbage, potatoes, and onions. So we will have leftovers, I add more vegetables and double the cream of wheat. I use vegetables that are ripe in our garden or that I have on hand. The following version calls for yellow squash since squash is ripe now. Later in the summer, I make it with okra, and I use carrots other times of the year.

Indian Ingredients

Black mustard seeds, asafoetida, channa dal, urad dal, and curry leaves are available at an Indian grocery. If you do not have black mustard seeds, substitute yellow mustard seeds. You can omit the asafoetida and curry leaves. Instead of channa and urad dal, you can use cashews.


The final texture of the dish is dependent upon the water in the vegetables you cook and how much water you add. Some people like their uppama dry while others prefer it wetter. Vary the water to your taste.

2 TbspVegetable oil
1/2 TspBlack mustard seeds
pinch Asafoetida
1 Dried Cayenne pepper
1 TbspChanna dal
2 TbspUrad dal
1 Onion, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 LbPotato, about 1 medium sized potato, peeled and diced
1/2 LbYellow crookneck squash, chopped
1 CupFrozen peas
1 TbspFresh ginger, grated
1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
6 Curry leaves
2 TspSalt
2 CupsCream of wheat
2 CupsHow water, approximate
2 TbspCilantro, finely chopped
  1. Heat oil on high in a large pot. Add mustard seeds. When seeds pop, add dried cayenne pepper, channa dal, and urad dal. Cook until dals begin to brown, stirring often.
  2. Reduce heat to medium high, add onions, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir to prevent potatoes sticking.
  4. Add squash, frozen peas, ginger, curry leaves. Stir to mix. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until vegetables are cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir and check every 5 minutes.
  6. When veggies are cooked, add salt. Turn heat to medium high. Add cream of wheat, and stir to mix. Cook until cream of wheat is lightly roasted about 5 minutes. Do not brown cream of wheat.
  7. Reduce heat to medium low, add hot water about a 1/4 cup at a time. Stir and cook until water is absorbed before adding more water.
  8. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit 5 minutes. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top and fluff with a fork before serving.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

My son is home from college for the summer. Because he likes to play games, I challenged him to write a review of a game. In return, I agreed to write a cookbook review. I think I have the easier job since I have been cooking from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking book for almost 25 years.

My first Indian cookbooks were gifts mailed to me from my Indian in-laws. Madhur Jaffrey's book was the first Indian cookbook I used that was intended for Americans. It was easier to use than my Indian ones since I did not have to worry about Indian cup sizes, unusual spice and vegetable names (e.g., haldi for turmeric, lady's finger for okra), or temperatures in marks.

The introductory material in Indian Cooking including ingredient descriptions and techniques is informative. I like the color pictures of selected dishes and the author's recipe introductions. The English recipe titles with Indian equivalent names below make the book accessible for those unfamiliar with the Indian dishes. The term pulses for beans and peas was new to me when I first read the book.

The detailed ingredient list and precise directions guide beginning Indian cooks to successful results. I had problems with the direction "fry until all the water evaporates and you see the oil again", probably because I use less than the recommended amount of oil I.

The serving suggestions encouraged me to try adding an Indian dish to meals. After I had experience, the Indian meal guidelines were are helpful.

Many of our family favorites come from this book. Every year after Easter, I make "Hard-boiled Eggs in a Spicy Cream Sauce" or "Vinegared Eggs" with our dyed Easter eggs. "Chicken with Cream" is our standard main dish when we invite friends over for an Indian dinner. For Thanksgiving, I cook "Sweet Yellow Rice" as a side dish. Even friends, who were hesitant to try Indian food, have enjoyed "Gujerati-style Cabbage with Carrots" when I brought it to potlucks. My husband and kids enjoy "Vermicelli Pudding" for dessert after an Indian meal, however I make it with vermicelli from an Indian grocery store.

I recommend this book for friends interested in Indian cooking, and I have given it as gifts. The book's size, approximately 200 pages, is not overwhelming for anyone who wants to try Indian cooking. It contains a variety of meat, vegetables, rice, bread, dessert, and condiment recipes. Some of the dishes are similar to ones served in Indian restaurants (e.g., "Tandoori-style" Chicken" and "Sour Chickpeas") and others more like the home cooking my husband grew up eating (e.g., "Rice with Yellow Split Peas" and "Sweet and Sour Okra") .

Check out my son's review of the the video game Tiny and Big or Cutting Down EVERYTHING

Monday, June 3, 2013

Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations to all the Spring 2013 graduates especially my son, my daughter, their friends, and our relatives!

My family had an exciting spring. My son graduated from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting. Two weeks later, my daughter graduated from Norcross High School, completing the International Baccalaureate program.

In the fall, my son will continue at UGA working on his Master of Accountancy (MAcc). My daughter will start Georgia State University studying nursing and pre-med.

A Graduation Note for My Kids

You should be proud of your accomplishments. I am inspired by your achievements. Instead of a traditional graduation gift, I wanted to spend time creating a special gift for you. Since family meals and eating well are important to our family, I created a recipe blog for you.

I am looking forward to adding recipes made with fresh vegetables from our garden this summer and holiday favorites in the fall. Let me know what favorites you would like me to include.