Although I did not grow up eating Upma, I often had it at friends and my in-laws' homes and I was hooked to the soft creamy (polenta-like) texture, and loved its versatility and ability to customize to what you have on hand in your fridge or pantry, and to what kids will or won't eat! This version is as simple as can be, with simple a bag of Mixed Frozen Vegetables straight out of the freezer. This can also be made vegan by omitting the yogurt and using just water instead. The yogurt adds a great tang, but without it, there are enough spices for a flavorful and vegan upma. —a little spice
Greek Yogurt (Plain)
Water (to mix with yogurt)
Black Mustard Seeds
Curry Leaves (fresh) or 12-14 Frozen
Urad dal (hulled, split black lentils)
Chana Dal (dried split chick peas)
Frozen Mixed Vegetables (not thawed), or any combination of fresh or frozen Vegetables
First, mix the Yogurt and water until it forms a smooth and even consistency
Next, heat a large wok or other deep frying pan with the oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Next, add the curry leaves (be careful they will sputter a bit), and then the asafetida. Then add the chana dal and urad dal and toast these, but do not let them burn. Finally, add the thinly sliced chile (if using) and sauté for a minute or two.
Add the yogurt-water mixture and keep stirring so that the yogurt does not curdle. Turn down the heat if you are worried about it curdling or take it off the heat briefly but keep stirring. Add the turmeric and salt to this mixture.
Once the liquid is hot, add the frozen mixed vegetables. (Note: if using fresh vegetables, add them to the oil before the liquid is added).
Once the vegetables are no longer frozen or cold, add the sooji and keep stirring quickly as it has a tendency to become clumpy. Stir until all of the liquid is incorporated and it resembles a porridge. Cover the pan and reduce the heat, let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
Serve immediately with a green cilantro/mint chutney or a tomato chutney. Chai optional.