My guess would be that Upma is the first thing that people learn to cook. At least in south indian homes. But then again, this is one of those dishes that takes years to master. Some people never learn at all and some can make yummy finger licking good upma each time.
I know people who wouldn't touch upma with a ten foot fork. And I know people who love upma. I fit very snugly into the "love" category. I make upma with everything I can find. Rava, Vermicelli, Wheat Dalia, Bajra Dalia, Makka flour, Oats, Rice Rava... I have even gone to the extent of mixing flours to make upma.
I was a Girl Guide and went on to receive the President's Award in 1991. I was chosen over thousands of people to receive it directly from the President of India at a function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Being a Guide meant that I went to at least one camp a year if not more. And that meant that I ate loads of icky sticky upma. But I loved it. For years I'd come back home from a camp and then crib about Amma's semi dry upma. I told her she didn't know how to make upma and I would teach her. The smart cookie that I was. And the poor lady tried to make squishy upma. I have now outgrown my love for the gooey stuff and would settle for the semi dry version any day!
Finally, I learnt how to make good upma and I make it quite often. (Good here means upma like Amma's!) And the mixed vegetable version is something I love. It kind of makes the meal more nutritious, more filling and more "complete".
1 cup Rava (Sooji)
1 Onion, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
1 cup Mixed vegetables, chopped and cooked (I used carrots, beans, potatoes and peas)
2 tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Urad Dal
1/2 tsp Chana Dal
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
1 Red Chilli, broken into pieces
1 tsp Green Chilli paste
1 tsp Ginger Paste
Salt to taste
1 tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Coriander Leaves for garnish
Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the urad and chana dals. When the urad dal begins to brown a little, add the mustard and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the red chilli, curry leaves, onions, ginger and chilli pastes and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato and fry for a minute more. Add the mixed vegetables and the rava and fry the entire mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of boiling hot water and salt to this. Mix well, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes on a low flame.
When done, take it off the heat and pour the ghee on top. Mix well, garnish with coriander leaves and enjoy it with some chivda and/or pickle.