Monday, January 20, 2014

Masala Aval Upma / Kanda Poha - Spicy Stir Fried Beaten Rice

Two events happened last week that made me appreciate how ordinary folks deal with life when a hard hand is dealt to them. It made me feel how petty my problems really are. Incidents like this seem to put everything else in perspective.

I was having a conversation recently with one of my colleagues a guy whom I have worked with for a while now and though I knew he has a step son who has cerebral palsy haven't spoken to him about it. That day we spoke a little bit longer and the talk meandered towards his family when we were talking about how people spend their free time after they go home from work. He said that his free time is usually spent taking care of his step son. He married the woman who is the boy's mother even after he knew the responsibility he is getting into. He does not complain, just matter of fact about his work load and difficulties in finding personal chill out time. If you did not know about the story you would never figure he has slightly more responsibilities than the average parent from his demeanor.

The other incident happened also last week. I guess last week was time for life lessons. We were taking DD2 for her first basket ball practice of the season. I noticed a group of girls playing basket ball and one of them was with a prosthetic leg. If you did not notice the prosthetic leg you'd never know she is handicapped in any way. The coach's wife was an extrovert and along with collecting the forms she also let us know that the girl in the prosthetic leg was her daughter. It was once of those moments when my mouth spoke before my brain had time to think. I asked her what happened before I knew if she was ready to talk about it or not. She explained they had to amputate her leg because she had bone cancer when she was 2 years old. She also explained how some people when up directly to the child and asked all sorts of questions. She said that her daughter was used to it and usually doesn't get bothered by it. I thought to myself I wouldn't have dared ask the child directly but I am glad I asked the mom. The mom went onto to explain about a soldier they ran into who was in a wheel chair who saw the little girl walk around and play. He walked up to them and said that was the last he was going to feel sorry for himself. Listening to their story made me ready to shed a tear.

There are a lot of people in the world who have a life very different from mine and still live life with grace and dignity. These days when I start to complain about trivial things I stop short. Trivial problems are just that trivial.

I was compelled to write about these incident because they affected me a bit I would say.

Now on to the recipe,
Aval Upma and Sweetened Aval Upma were recipes that my MIL makes whenever she visits or we visit India. The thing is I do not like Aval or beaten rice and so you guessed it I never buy it. DH though likes it a lot. See I am a selfish person putting my wishes in front ;) The upma that my MIL is our regional style just with a seasoning of onions and green chilies like how upma is made. This was till I met Poha cooked in the Maharashtra-ian India style of which we had more than our fill on our trip to Leh. Spiced up a bit more with fried pieces of potatoes and roasted peanuts what is not there to like.

Soaked aval and potatoes cooking in the masala.
Aval mixed into the masala and ready to be served.

The kids have decided that Saturdays' are for upma and are not too happy about it. That changed when I switched to making this Aval Upma. What preceded was a packet of beaten rice was bought and insisted upon me that it had to be cooked :). I am glad I did.

Masala Aval Upma/ Kanda Poha - Spicy Stir Fried Beaten Rice
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 2 Cups of Aval(Beaten Rice)
  2. 6 green chiles chopped into rounds
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onions
  4. 1 big Potato peeled and cut into small dices
  5. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder
  6. 1 tsp of curry masala powder (any masala powder would work)
  7. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  8. 1/4 - 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1 tsp of oil
  11. seasonings - mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  12. juice from 1/2 a lime

  1. Take the Aval/beaten rice in a colander and run water through it for a minute. Set aside for 10 minutes. (see note:)
  2. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add in the green chilies, saute for a minute and then add the onions and saute till they start to turn brown.
  3. Add the potatoes and saute for a minute or two. Add in the salt, chili, turmeric and masala powder and give a good mix. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of water. Mix and cover with a lid and cook for about 3-4 minutes till the potatoes are just soft. Open the lid and saute till all the standing liquid is gone.
  4. Add the soaked aval/beaten rice and mix gently till the masala is well coated on the aval - 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add in the roasted peanuts, squeeze the lime, give another good mix but gently. Turn off the heat.
  6. Note: If the beaten rice is thick it is soaked in water. Water is added just enough to cover the beaten rice. I have tried this a couple of time and ended up with a mushy aval that is of no use. Be careful with the amount of water if soaking.

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  1. Thanks for sharing the real life experiences of people.around you. It's worth reminding and remembering and thanking God for what we have and at the same time, salute and pray for people who fight and handle life well.. Yes, once in Goa we had this Poha and this aloo poha is a holiday breakfast in our household too! thanks for sharing.

  2. In our house for very long time sat. mornings were reserved for Poha, infact my lil'one started associating poha with sat. morning rituals which meant watching AVS(Indian TV here in NJ ) while having breakfast. And one time on a holiday(not sat.) I made poha & she very innocently reminded us to start Indian songs on TV. I learned to make it this style only, from my husband after marriage minus cumin & curry powder Plus fresh cilantro, my both kids love this, also this is one of his speciality so I try to leave it on pros ;) when it's time to make this b'fast .
    And yes, it's so easy for us to complaint about little little things in life & in all that we many a times easily forget that instead we should be thankful for what all we have. Thanks for sharing your experience b'coz we all need to be reminded every now & then that learn to be thankful & not complaining all the time.


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