Simply Bread Upma

Mallika Basu - Simply Bread Upma

Posted 11th January 2013

The weeks in the run up to Christmas are a blur. A crisis of sorts was brewing on the client front. Which means, not much was brewing on the home front.

I got ready in near darkness, pulling last night’s dinner out of the fridge for the kids lunch, before the mad work dash. In my infinite wisdom, I tasked the man with control of the weekday meals.

If there is a Peruvian food trend sweeping the world, it certainly hasn’t affected my half-Peruvian man. He is, singlehandedly, the prime customer for Sacla Pesto Pasta.

Cooking, for him, is the brave attempt to stir a jar of the sauce into overcooked pasta. He sent ripples of disgust through the Italian countryside, when he shared his penchant for stirring bacon and onions into pesto pasta on one of our holidays.

When he’s feeling less adventurous, he shoves a pizza into a hot oven. In between his special brand of creative cookery, and my rejection of the kitchen, the festive season came and went. And then, mierda, our food went stale.

So while I had great plans to start the year with a suitably decadent recipe, instead, I give you stale bread. And funnily, this post has been simmering long before this article on food wastage hit the headlines.

Honestly, I’m no stranger to the odd bit of food wastage. But over the years, I have found that a generous helping of spices can help rescue many ingredients beyond their prime. My top faves are:

  • Navratan Korma, a spiced coconut curry with nine vegetables, served with steaming hot Basmati rice
  • Pulao, of any sort really. Quick, and delicious, with a bowl of thick yoghurt and pickle
  • Jhalfrezi, of chicken, beef or prawn, a quick stir fry with easy to source ingredients that can be bought on the way home

More recently, I’ve even turned 2 pints of milk into paneer. Something that I would have never considered in the not too distant past!

The recipe here is one that I grew up with in India. I suspect it had something to do with leftovers back then too. Bread Upma is a simple saute with fresh tomatoes and onions that doubles up as a lovely brunch or kid-friendly snack.

I have only one New Year’s Resolution this year, to get better at preventing perfectly good ingredients from making the dustbin heap! So please share your favourite recipes for leftovers, and let’s all have a less wasteful year ahead.

Feeds 2:

4-5 slices of stale bread (I used wholemeal as that’s what I buy)

1 medium tomato

1 medium onion

Half tsp turmeric

Half tsp chilli powder

Half tsp mustard seeds

Half tsp cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

Fresh coriander

Half tsp salt

2 tbsp oil

Chop the tomato and onion roughly. Slice the bread into large bite-sized pieces. You don’t want them too small as they’ll just crumble.

In a frying pan, bring the oil to heat on high. When it’s hot, toss in the curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and as they sizzle up, mix in the onions. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion for five minutes until they start to soften and take on colour.

Next, toss in the tomatoes and the powdered spices along with the salt. Stir well for two minutes and as the tomatoes start to disintegrate, gently mix in the bread cubes. Fold the masala into the bread, warming it up in the process. When the bread upma is well coated, serve hot with a sprinkling of the fresh coriander if you have it.

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