Cooking with millets : Millet Peas Upma

Another year bit the dust, another zillion resolutions have fallen by the wayside but hope springs eternal.

I am once again going to attempt to Blog Regularly, Cook differently, Eat healthy, Get Fit and Of course, reduce procrastination.
That last one had already fallen to the onslaught of my usual vices, this post is at least 25 days in coming :)
When I ruminate over my cooking style and variety, I find I am known for a few classics: My Cocoa Brownie, Idlis, Chola + Phulka, Aaloo and the myriad varieties of side dishes possible with it, Rasam, Daal, healthy muffins, granola, rajma, veg rice, waffles, paniyaram etc... 

I am certainly not discounting the value of the ability to cook regular food well.  It is nice when my youngest appreciates the basic Dosa + Coconut chutney I make for his snack box frequently.  Time is short, appreciation is rare and when I do get it I want to record it and frame it and press the play button every time I am bored/frustrated/tired..  I wish DH and my older son would join in the praise.

There are some other dishes I cook very well but don't interest dh and kids as much as they interest my dad, traditional Iyer food. In true Calvinesque fashion, I thought a good goal for the year would be introducing my kids to traditional Iyer foods made even more healthy (or horrible, from my older son's perspective) by cooking with millets etc...
Organic Pani Varagu
One of the first things I tried was making a millet Thiruvathirai Kali, a sweet risotto with lots of coconut.  DH and I loved it, my kids simply suffered through it :)  They, surprisingly, loved the side dish, ezhukari kootu, a stew made of 7 - 9 - 11 local vegetables.  The next attempt was the typical Arisi Upma made with Millets and Peas instead of the usual broken rice and daal.

My millet of choice for this dish is the Pani Varagu, i.e. the millet which growsi in fog.  I suppose this means this millet is harvested only in the winter?  There is a brand new organic shop in Besantnagar, right beside the Besantnagar Bus Stand.  They stock organic millets, oils, rice, wheat etc...  This is a blessing since Restore moved away to Kottivakkam on ECR.

Traditionally this dish involves coarsely breaking rice and lentils,sift the powdery part and then making the upma.   My younger son has been told to eat dinner by 7:00.  I come home by 6.15-6.30 and he immediately starts hounding me to get started with dinner.  I was in no mood to break daal and then sift it to separate the finer powder. Besides, lentils should be dry roasted before grinding for optimal flavour. I decided to substitute fresh peas.

Unlike the northern lattitudes, peas season here in hot chennai starts in the middle of December and ends by the end of March. In this period, when peas are 60Rs a Kg or lower, I shell at least a kilo of peas a week!  I use them wherever possible.

Millets are small, peas are fresh, I assumed they would cook in the same time.  I was right!  Dinner was done in 30 minutes flat from start to end.  I used my Hawkins futura pressure cooker, will certainly take longer in a traditional saucepan.

1 cup millet, Kodo Millet
2/3 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup fresh coconut grated.

1 tbspoon oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chana daal
1 tsp urad daal
3 red chillies
1 pinch of hing

1 sprig curry leaves
1" piece ginger grated

Heat oil in the cooker, then add mustard and cumin.  
When mustard splutters add the 2 daals 
When the daals turn reddish add the chillies
When the chillies darken add the hing.
Add curry leaves, ginger and pour in 3 cups of water
Add the peas and bring the water to a boil.
Add the millet, coconut and salt to taste.
Cover the cooker with its lid and wait for steam to build up,
Once the cooker whistles, lower the heat to a simmer and wait for 3 minutes.
Turn the cooker off.

Open the pan after the pressure reduces to normal (10 minutes?) .
Serve with sugar and pickles.
Tastes best warm.

Millet Peas Upma, so popular I could photograph only a spoonful!

A rare case where virtuous cooking is fast and tasty. This is my contribution to Lisa's MLLA#79 started by Susan


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