Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Daring Cooks Challenge- August 2012- Cornmeal

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Broadly speaking, Rachael summoned us to an ultimate cornmeal throwdown, With scores of options given, we were to bring to the table recipes that we've never had the experience of making and which starred our key ingredient.

My sights were set on cutting out an ingredient from an existing Indian dish and replace it with cornmeal. Quite ambitious maybe, since I had not the clue of a single Indian recipe which included this mighty grain. Cornbread, pizza dough, polenta and sausage, I've done over and over. But to take a classic item from the country that hails Rice and Wheat as dual kings of the crop and possibly replace either Precious with the yellow cereal might end up in great grain blasphemy. A concerning predicament? Yes. Will I do it anyway? Definitely.

At this point, I decided to put the venerable dish of upma to the task.

Upma is a great one- pot breakfast miracle. Made with roasted durum wheat semolina, similar to Cream of Wheat, it is deliciously gratifying and super cinch to prepare. Plain semolina gets dressed up with some basic, but boldly fragrant elements only to be transformed into a wondrous quick meal, rich and flavorful in every bite. A classic upma  can be made with just the handful of ingredients or jacked up substantially for a wholesome, ample spread.

Here, simple was key. With only the few components infusing my upma, the cornmeal shown through quite well and fabulously top-notch. A creamy complementing texture came together considerably faster than semolina upma ever did.

Visually no stunner, a forgivable fault, when given the major plus of coming together in shorter than 15 minutes.
Cornmeal upma is superb. A must mention, upma is not only a breakfast item, it made for a swift lunch today. Swift in the sense that both JZ and I we were able to cleanly ingest a whole 4 serving pot in less than 10 minutes. 

Cornmeal Upma~
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ c chopped red onion
  • ½ tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 serranos, cut into small rounds (Asian green chilis)
  • ½ c  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • ½ tsp salt or more
  • 2 c water
  • 1 tsp ghee or butter
  • ¼ c chopped almonds (optional)
  • On medium flame, in a deep saute pan or dutch oven, heat the oil 
  • Add the mustard seeds.
  • Once mustard seeds temper and pop, add curry leaves, onion, ginger and serranos. Saute for 3 minutes or until ingredients are wilted and onions translucent.
  • Add in red pepper and saute for additional minute, don't allow pepper to wilt and brown.
  • In a measuring cup measure in water, add salt and combine well. Pour into the cooked ingredients.
  • With heat on medium-high, allow water to boil (use lid to cover).
  • Lowering to medium heat, swiftly stir in the cornmeal to the water. Stir just until the cornmeal is mixed through. By now it would have absorbed much of the liquid.
  • With one final stir, take off heat, spoon tablespoon of butter on top and sprinkle with almonds. Cover and allow for the cornmeal to cook and soften in the steam.
  • Serve or scoop into a plate.
Enjoy with Indian pickle or in the habitually yum way of mixing upma with mashed bananas, sugar and additional butter, sans utensils. Just fingers.
Thank you Rachael for this outstanding task. Brilliant it was, for it made me think outside the box. By substituting a familiar component in a much loved dish with the challenging alternate, I was able to bring in its wake a brand new flavor dimension and revived awesomeness.
 Mixing it all up, no silverware needed- hot lime pickle, bananas and upma, the absolute best way to have it!

"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 


  1. Your cornmeal upma looks very tasty!

  2. Oh, wow! This looks spectacular! Bookmarked :)

    1. Thanks so much Rachael for the sweet words, being such a wonderful hostess and giving us this fabulous challenge.

  3. What a unique cornmeal recipe (that I know of anyway)! I love this idea! Love all of your seasoning and the peppers. Great recipe!

    1. Thank you so much, I'm glad I experimented :))

  4. I love your take on this challenge Tisa.
    Trying to replace one ingredient in an indian recipe with cornmeal is pure genious and the recipe sounds amazing
    You did a brilliant job on this challenge :)

    1. Aw Sawsan, you are too sweet. Thanks for the encouragement friend!

  5. yummy delicious corn meal upma,haven't tried this!!Thanx for all the inspiring worde dear at my space:-)

    Do join in the ongoing Events of EP Series-Curry leaves OR Red Dry Chillies @ Spicy Aroma

    1. You are welcome, I loved the cake! Thank you much for your kind words,too, girlie!

  6. What a great mix of flavours to go with cornmeal. thank you for sharing.

  7. What a creative use of cornmeal my friend, this upma looks fantastic :D
    Such a brilliant idea!

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Thaaank you Uru- the first I've ever experimented with upma and I liked it :))

  8. That looks delish! I make my upma the traditional way with semolina but this would be great for when i am in the mood for something different but still flavorful! :)

  9. Beautiful mix of flavors .. delicious upma :)

    You have a lovely space here.. Glad to follow you.


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