Years ago I remember visiting a dear friend in Pune. Some very fond memories of a weekend spent with this lovely family- open, warm and hospitable. I spent hours chatting with her Mom- A Maharashtrian who had married a Rajput. I remember aunty telling me that as a new bride the meal she had dreaded the most was breakfast. I had been pretty surprised to hear that till she had gone on to elaborate that lunch and dinner were typically Roti/Rice, Daal and Subzi( standard fare with multiple options to choose from) but when it came to breakfast there were limited options, time was at a premium and yet it was the most important meal of the day( to all you who skip breakfast, think again!). Thus the onus on you as the home-maker was to ensure that the breakfast you served was both wholesome in terms of nutrition and delicious in terms of taste. My friend's mom had actually worked out different breakfast options and stuck them on her refrigerator door. I thought that was really smart and some great planning( a tip that I always remember and have tried to replicate with some success). Spending 10/15 minutes planning the week's menu during the weekend can save you a lot of time during those rushed weekdays.
I made some Sooji Upma today. Very simple to make and can easily substitute a main meal like lunch or dinner. In fact I know of families who have moved to having Upma for dinner. Again another one dish meal and hence a favorite with me
(My friend G's recipe tweaked a little bit to suit the family palate)
Sooji: 1 cup. Roasted with 1 tsp of ghee( if you are feeling indulgent) or oil( even olive oil works well). Ideally dry roast the sooji the night before( The process of roasting the sooji takes about 10/15 minutes- needs to be roasted on medium flame with constant stirring. In the mornings you would want to save every minute you can). In fact each time you open a new packet of sooji, dry roast and store( this reduces the cooking time when making upma or kheer and also prevents the sooji from getting insects).
Vegetables: Potatoes, Beans, Carrots-finely chopped and shelled green peas, I like my upma with a lot of vegetables and tend to use close to two cups of veggies
Onion: 1 large or 2 small, finely chopped
Curry Patta: 10/12 leaves
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Oil: 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Water: 3 cups( Sooji: Water should be 1:3)
Heat the oil/ghee in a nonstick kadai and roast the sooji for about 10 minutes on medium flame. Remove on to a plate.
Next heat 1 tsp of oil in a kadai, once the oil heats up add the mustard seeds and wait for them to sputter. Add the curry leaves, onion and fry till the onion starts looking glassy. Then come the vegetables. Again one way to fasten the process would be to cook the veggies with mustard and curry patta the night before and serve it as a meal accompaniment. Make your upma the next day with the leftovers(tops my cheat sheet, it is a lot of fun cooking with leftovers not to mention smart..after all half the job is already done).
Stir the vegetables, cover for a few minutes, add salt to taste. Since the veggies are chopped fine this should not take more than 10 minutes. Once the vegetables are done add three cups of water, when the water starts to boil add the sooji bit by sit stirring continuously so that there are no lumps. I like to add a few drop of lime juice to the dish( if you do decide to add some to yours do it at this stage).
Serve hot with a sambhar or chutney or tomato ketchup.
With a little bit of the preparatory work done from before this breakfast dish can get done in a jiffy.