Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bread Upma (Stir Fried Bread)

When we were growing in India bread was what you ate when you were sick. When you visited someone in the hospital you carried with you a loaf of bread, a bag of oranges and a bottle of Horlicks. To eat bread otherwise it had be dressed up to not look and taste like bread. I would like to think of Bread Upma as a dish that came in vogue in the 80s. The bread available in India at that time was invariably sweet, soft and white. In contrast now bread is such an integral part of my life. I have this feeling of missing something if I do not have a loaf of bread in the house. But of late buying ready made bread makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Ever since I started reading the food labels the number of ingredients in bread has always bothered me and reading Michael Pollan's: In Defense of Food only confirmed the fear. This is what he says about bread:

Consider a loaf of bread, one of the "traditional foods that everyone knows" specifically singled out for protection in the 1938 imitation rule. As your grandmother could tell you, bread is traditionally made using a remarkably small number of familiar ingredients: flour, yeast, water and a pinch of salt will do it. But industrial bread - even industrial whole-grain bread - has become a far more complicated product of modern food science (not to mention commerce and hope).

Then he goes on to list the ingredients found in Sara Lee's Soft and Smooth Whole Grain Wheat Bread which runs close to about 50 ingredients. Rule of thumb as stated by Pollan is not to buy food that has unfamiliar ingredients and unpronounceable ingredients. Try as I might with the dazzling array of bread available in the super market bread aisle I cannot find a loaf of bread with just the stated five ingredients. So depending on how much time I have on hand, I first avoid buying breads with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and then spend time looking for those with the fewest possible ingredients.

The ingredients from the loaf I picked up recently, Peppridge Farm - 100% Natural 100% Whole Wheat Whole Grain Bread are as follows:

Whole Wheat flour, Water, Crushed Wheat, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Raisin juice concentrate, Soybean oil, Contains 2% or less of - Wheat Bran, Molasses, Whole Wheat flakes, Honey, Vinegar, Lower Sodium Natural Modified Soy Lecithin and Enzymes.

Not bad! other than the Soy Lecithin part I was able to recogonize most of the ingredients still not sure what the enzymes meant. All this is leading to my New Year resolution. Bake my own bread. The no knead bread has given me lot of hope. I am not a baker by any means, successfully baking a loaf of bread and being able to do it regularly would be just wonderful.

Bread Upma can be both a snack and a breakfast item. With eggs, bread and a sprinkling of cheese it can serve as a good breakfast. If you have old bread that needs to be used this is a perfect way to dress it up.


Bread Upma
Serves: 3-4

1. 10 slices of Whole Wheat Bread (or any bread) cut into cubes
2. 3 Eggs (optional)
3. 1/2 Red Onion chopped fine
4. 1/2 tomato chopped fine
5. 1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup (or any sauce to suit your liking)
6 chopped green chilies, chopped coriander leaves (optional)
7. 1 tsp red chili powder (again optional)
8. 1-2 tsp oil /butter
9. a small slice of monterey Jack Cheese
1. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil and saute the onions till translucent, add salt.
2. Now add the tomatoes and saute till soft. If adding green chilies add now
3. Add the tomato ketchup and chili powder and mix
4. Add the cubed bread slices and toss so the sauce is well coated.
If not adding eggs it should be done at this stage. Go to Step 8.

5. Now make space in the center and break the eggs cook them in the heat and then toss them with the bread slices.
6. Continue to cook till the eggs have been completely cooked.
7. Sprinkle the coriander leaves if using and toss one more time.
8. Grate chees on top.


  1. Upma looks yummy with cheese on top of it, back home we also just eat bread when we were sick..:)

  2. Indo, this is the first time I'm coming across eggs in bread upma, but why not, when eggs and bread are a standard combination? Even I was thinking about how bread upma used to be sweeter as kids and then came across your mention of bread in the 80s. In fact, I like that taste better than the strictly savoury taste of today's.

  3. Two words, Indo!

    Bread machine. :) That is the most loved gadget in my house these days.

  4. LOL at bread, oranges and horlicks. How true!
    Adding eggs and cheese to bread upma is a new twist indeed.

    Merry Christmas to you all, ISG.

  5. i too mmake this.. it's yummy.. but i don't add eggs.

  6. That is such an appetizing looking bread upma!
    Coming from Mumbai, bread was an integral part of our weekday breakfasts - I just love WIBS!
    But when I moved to Chennai, people would look at me sadly when I said I had bread for breakfast - "not well"? ;)


  7. soy lechithin used to feature in my homemade breads until i realised after reading Nutrition Action that it was approved without real testing. oil works in lieu of it.

  8. soy lechithin used to feature in my homemade breads until i realised after reading Nutrition Action that it was approved without real testing. oil works in lieu of it.

  9. bread upma with grated cheese... that's sheer comfort food for these freezing temps.

    happy new year to you and your family Indo! Looking forward to many delicious posts in 2009

  10. Oooh we ate this a lot, except we made it exactly like an upma with bread instead of semolina. I like your ingredients rule... food for thought! Wishing you a fab 2009.


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