Starters, Salads, Soups/ Starters

Corn Polenta (Uppuma)

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Uppuma is quite a common breakfast all over India. There is a specific ingredient called curry leaves, which is generally used in southern Indian cooking, giving it a unique flavor to uppuma. Remember mum making this recipe for us at times on weekends.

Made the Corn Polenta Uppuma recipe for my friend Jimena once at her place in London. There I added a special ingredient, freshly squeezed coconut milk, giving it a beautifully soft and vibrant taste and texture to the common uppuma. Instead of little black mustard seeds, I switched it for caraway seeds and crunchy toasted desiccated coconut, which brought out the best soft minty aroma and flavor.  Jimena and her friends were impressed with this simple corn polenta! It was a smashing success.

Polenta is a dish that originated in Italy, usually made with ground corn or maize. Before corn or maize was introduced from America in the 16th century, it was a peasant dish that was made from any ground grain, beans, or legumes and typically served as a porridge, or placed on a wooden board to cool and harden before it is cut into portions with a string.

As corn got introduced into the world of trade,  corn polenta started gaining popularity in parts of Europe, North and South America, parts of India (known as Upma), and Africa (Ugali, Koki, or Meali Bread). From there, variations of the recipe continued as the dish crossed different cultures.

This recipe offers a distinct perspective on the dish.  Topped with chopped coriander leaves that offer a lively freshness to the dish, some roasted grated coconut adds a nutty, sweet taste. This dish has tangy, musky flavors coming through from the curry leaves and caraway seeds, making it a delicious offering for a starter.

Uppma

Serves: 2-3
Cooking Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of medium or fine cornmeal.
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped thin slices of cabbages
  • 1 tbsp fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped thin slices of cabbages
  • 1 tbsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 small piece of dried red chilli (optional)
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp heap spoon coconut butter or 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut fine
  • few dashes of pepper (optional)
  • few scrapping of the grated nutmeg nut

Instructions

1

In a coffee-grinder or spice grinder, add caraway seeds, black mustard seeds, coriander seeds and blend until it becomes a coarse powder. Set aside.

2

Add the coconut oil into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Then add the coarsely ground spices and sauté for 30 seconds.

3

Add curry leaves, turmeric powder, and ginger powder. Sauté continuously for another 30 seconds.

4

Add the coarse cornmeal to the spices in the saucepan and stir continuously, making sure that all the ingredients are well incorporated.

5

Once all the ingredients are mixed well, add one cup of warm water and continue stirring.

6

At this point, it will start getting firm, clumping up slightly. Add the coconut milk and continue stirring making sure to remove the clumps as much as possible. The cornmeal will get firmer but still will still have a pliable consistency. If it gets a bit too dry, add warm water or coconut milk in small portions until the mixture is easier to mix.

7

Pour the mixture into a serving tray and spread it out evenly. Let it cool to room temperature to allow the mixture to settle and firm up. Then cut into equal slice portions for serving.

8

While the polenta is cooling, make the topping for the polenta. In a medium-sized frying pan heat some coconut oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and sauté for 1 minute.

9

Then add the freshly chopped coriander leaves. Season with himalayan pink salt and pepper. Set aside.

10

In a separate saucepan lightly toss the grated coconut over high heat until slightly brown and add sautéed coriander leaves. Mix well.

11

Remove from the heat and use this as topping for the polenta.

12

You can also add a bit of coconut cream on top as an extra topping.

Notes

You can serve this dish for breakfast or as a starter for lunch.

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