Every week on LittleThings’ Facebook Live show Slice, we challenge food experts to create a delicious and easy-to-make dinner for less than $12. This week, we have filmmaker and cookbook author Sri Rao in the hot seat.
Sri is a New York-based writer and filmmaker whose career has brought him to both Hollywood and Bollywood. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Bollywood is a nickname for India’s vibrant musical film industry.
His new book Bollywood Kitchen captures the electrifying drama of Indian food and films. In fact, his book pairs Bollywood films with home-cooked Indian recipes.
The dish Sri will be making is called upma. Sri explains, “Upma is an example of authentic, home-cooked Indian comfort food — not the kind of dish you typically find in Indian restaurants.”
The savory cream of wheat dish is usually served as a breakfast, but also makes for an easy, one-pot dinner on busy weeknights. It also just so happens to be vegan, without sacrificing flavor or substance.
Per usual, this dish can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, for $12 or less. Here is Sri’s shopping list as proof:
- 12 curry leaves – .25
- 1 onion – $1.35
- Cashews – $1.99
- Fresh ginger – .99
- Bottle of cayenne – $1.99
- Frozen mixed vegetables – $1.29
- Cream of wheat – $1.99
- Mango pickle – .99
- Fresh cilantro – .49
- Total = $11.33
You will also need a few things from your pantry, such as canola oil, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, salt, lemon juice, and butter.
Find the recipe below and make sure to check out @NewYorkSri on all social media.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 thick slices
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 cup frozen mixed peas, carrots, and green beans
1⁄2cups Cream of Wheat (2 1⁄2minute variety)
- To taste freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Garnish mango pickle
- For serving melted butter
- Garnish fresh cilantro
- Bring 5½ cups water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.
- Meanwhile, in a 5-quart nonstick saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the cashews, ginger, salt, and cayenne. Decrease the heat to medium and sauté for an additional minute or so.
- Add the Cream of Wheat, toasting the grains until they begin to turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add all of the boiling water at once, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Continue stirring until the upma comes together as a smooth, thick porridge.
- Decrease the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir the upma well with a squeeze or two of lemon. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes to allow the dish to absorb more flavor.
- Adjust the salt and cayenne to taste. Give the upma another stir to keep it smooth. Serve hot in dinner bowls, accompanied by mango pickle (a spicy chutney available online or at Indian grocery stores).
- Drizzle with melted butter (if desired) for extra richness. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a few cashew pieces. Inform your guests to remove the ginger and curry leaves before eating. Enjoy!
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