Thursday, 8 August 2013




          Upma (often pronounced ûkmáve) and Songe (the ‘ge’ is pronounced as ‘gi’ in girl) is a scrumptious traditional Konkani breakfast combination which will give you an inkling of how Konkani people became such gourmets.

          Try eating Upma and Songe with boiled / steamed / roasted Nendran bananas, with deep-fried papads, with sweet jaggery coffee and you will know what we are talking about.

          The Upma has to be prepared using Upma Rava or Khandwa Rava or Benzi Rava which is coarse grained wheat semolina. Bombay Rava or fine wheat semolina will not do. For best taste, Upma and Songe should be prepared in cast-iron woks.

Ingredients for the Upma:

     1)    Upma Rava / Khandwa Rava / Benzi Rava (or coarse grained wheat semolina) – 250 gm.
     2)    Ginger – 1 inch piece
     3)    Water – 700 ml.
     4)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     5)    Hot green chilies – 3 Nos.
     6)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 Nos.
     7)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig
     8)    Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
     9)    Powdered salt – 1 teaspoon

Ingredients for the Songe:

     1)    Potatoes – 500 gm.
     2)    Onion – 100 gm.
     3)    Ginger – 1 inch piece
     4)    Water – 500 ml.
     5)    Hot green chilies – 6 Nos.
     6)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig
     7)    Hot red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
     8)    Coriander powder – 2 teaspoons
     9)    Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
     10)     Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
     11)     Coriander leaves – of 1 plant
     12)     Salt – 1½ teaspoons

To Cook the Songe:

          Wash and put the potatoes in a pressure cooker. Pour in enough water to immerse them, close the lid and set on high heat. As soon as you hear the first whistle, turn down the heat and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Now switch off the heat and let the cooker cool naturally.

          Peel the onion and the ginger and chop them to fine bits. Pull the curry leaves off their sprig and set aside. Chop the coriander leaves finely and set aside. Slit the green chilies lengthwise on one side or just chop them to big pieces.

          As soon as the steam pressure has abated by itself, open the cooker, drain off the water and peel the potatoes (in order to peel the potatoes, you can cool them by immersing them in cool water for a few minutes). Crush the boiled potatoes with your fingers, leaving no big lumps. The smaller lumps are needed to give texture to the Songe.

Pour in the water and set aside. Set a large cast-iron wok or deep pan on high heat. Pour in the oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, tip in the curry leaves. Stir once and put in the onion, the ginger and the green chilies. Stir for 3 minutes on medium heat. Now pour in the potatoes and tip in the chili powder, the turmeric powder, the coriander powder and the salt.

Turn up the heat and stir nicely. As soon as it comes to a boil, taste and add more salt or chili powder if you so desire. Tip in the chopped coriander leaves (I have not used coriander leaves in the Songe in the picture as it was not readily available) to make it all the more fragrant and tasty. Stir and switch off the heat. Cover with a lid.

To make the Upma:

          Peel and chop the ginger to fine bits. Break the dry red chilies each into 2 or 3 pieces. Slit the green chilies lengthwise on one side. Pull the curry leaves off their sprig and set aside.

          Set a pan of water (700 ml.) on one stove and a cast-iron wok (to make the upma rich in iron and tastier) on the other, both on high heat. In the wok, pour in the oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish popping, throw in the curry leaves and stir once. Now tip in the green chilies, the red chilies and the ginger. Stir twice or thrice and pour in the hot water from the pan. Add the salt.

As soon as it comes to a boil, pour in the rava gently with one hand while stirring it in with the other. Now lower the heat and cover with a lid. 2 minutes later, stir the Upma and cover again. Check after 5 more minutes. The rava should have absorbed all the water by now and thickened into fine, fragrant Upma. Stir and switch off the heat.

Do I need to tell you what else to do? Go ahead and enjoy!!!

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