There are only so many ways to make semolina, I always thought. But the only one I could come up with for a “snack” or what we South Indians proudly call “tiffin” was the boring old upma. First, about the tiffin. It is that mini meal we eat between an early lunch and a dinner, around 3pm. As a kid, I used to love weekend tiffin time because my mother or grandmother would make yummy snacks that were completely dedicated to evening-meals on weekends and they would always be of the fried kind, fritter-like, filled with an assortment of vegetables.
On weekdays, we would be given something boring like an Upma or if we were lucky, Maggi noodles. Upma is sort of like couscous. It is made of coarse semolina, or broken rice, or vermicelli and we add spices and condiments to make it, er, more interesting. But lately, I’ve felt like I’m done with Upma. It is so boring, gets repetitive and has no real nutritional value (yes, I am suddenly all big on that) unless I add on all the veggies I’ve got in my pantry.
So yesterday, I went on a quest: to revamp semolina. I wanted to add some depth of flavor to it, some extra texture and basically make it a teeny bit more exciting. And then I got this bright idea to treat it like you would couscous and make salad out of it. End of the day, I don’t know if we loved it or simply tolerated it. I am guessing the former because we went back for seconds and wiped out the huge portion I had made. So here is the recipe.
One cup coarse semolina (Indian stores stock up on various sizes)
Two Tbsp olive oil
One and a quarter cups vegetable stock
One cup raisins or dried cranberries
Half cup roasted almond slivers (I cut up my pan roasted almonds)
One Tbsp dry oregano flakes
Few cilantro leaves, rough chopped
For the vinaigrette:
Quarter cup olive oil
Quarter cup apple cider vinegar
Two Tbsp honey
One tsp salt
Half tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat the two Tbsp oil in a pan. Add the semolina to it and fry for a few minutes on medium heat until lightly golden-brown and fragrant. Add the vegetable stock to it, close the pan with a lid and let it cook for ten to twelve minutes until completely cooked. Take it off heat when done and let it cool.
While it cools, make the vinaigrette. In a bowl, pour the vinegar, honey, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk them together as you add the olive oil.
When the semolina is cool enough to handle, fluff it up using a fork. It is an arduous process but make sure it is fluffy. If it forms a thin, brown coat in the bottom, take it off (the browned part tastes yummy, fyi). Add on the raisins, almonds and oregano to it. Make sure it is well mixed. Now pour the vinaigrette on top of the semolina and toss to coat. Garnish with parsley and ta da!