I’m a sucker for quick-fix breakfast dishes. Like this one. Much as I love our idlis, dosas, adais and other traditional power breakfast dishes, I also like to explore breakfast/tiffin options from other ethnic cultures, and this is one such dish that I absolutely love. If you haven’t heard of Mandakki upma earlier, you will not guess the main ingredient in it. Mandakki is ‘puffed rice’. Yes, a breakfast dish made with puffed rice! Sounds novel? For the people of North Karnataka though, this is staple diet…something that they churn from their cook-pot just as often as we make our idlis and dosas. What’s more, the recipe is very adaptable too. If you don’t have the veggies on hand, just give it a simple tadka with hing, mustard seeds, jeera, green chillies, curry leaves; add coriander and a dash of lime juice after you remove from the flame and the Mandakki upma will be just as deliciously lip-smacking. Whatever goes for you…come on now, get those creative juices flowing a bit.
I had learnt this from my friend’s mom during college days. Now I make it regularly for our breakfast, with slight variations. I add more veggies for a wholesome breakfast. Vasuki Aunty, if you’re reading, thanks so much for this one. I fondly think of you every time I make this. I really miss eating all that yummy food you would make for us when we were grounded in the room studying. Those foodie-breaks were like a breath of fresh air when we had our faces buried in our books all day.
- Puffed Rice – 200 gms (the blistered variety)
- Onions – 2 nos, medium-sized, finely chopped
- Tomatoes – 2-3 nos, medium-sized, finely chopped
- Capsicum/Bell Pepper – 1 no, large-sized, diced
- Carrot – 1 no, large-sized, grated
- Green Chillies – 4 nos, slit vertically (alter to suit your taste)
- Curry leaves – a sprig, finely chopped
- Coriander/Cilantro – a handful, finely chopped
- Lime juice – from 1 large lemon
- Red Chilly powder – 1 tbsp (alter to suit your taste)
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Jeera/Cumin seeds – 2 tbsps
- Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
- Oil – 2 tbsps
- I use the blistered variety of puffed rice (the same as what is used to make Bhel puri). The smooth variety can also be used however it gets very soggy, and quickly. The blistered variety holds up for almost 8-10 hours before the grains shrink to a very small size.
- If you are not able to use lime juice for some reason, you could even use Amchur powder to lend a nice tangy note to the upma, or you could even leave it out altogether.
- In a wok (preferably non-stick), heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and jeera and allow to pop.
- Add the finely chopped onions, slit green chillies, finely chopped curry leaves and turmeric powder. Saute on a medium flame till the onions are cooked tender. (You could even use the curry leaves whole. Somehow whole curry leaves in any dish sends me into a frenzy, specially if the leaves are really big. I have this OCD of chopping it up. You could even choose to call it finesse. I wouldn’t mind the compliment ).
- Next, throw in the chopped capsicum. Fry till just about cooked.
- Add the grated carrot and fry till cooked.
- Add the tomatoes, red chilly powder, salt and cook till the tomatoes turn mushy and your kitchen smells nice and aromatic. If using amchur powder instead of lime, add it now.
- Wash the puffed rice in a colander and drain it of all water. (Don’t press over it or anything. Let it drain the water naturally). If you want to sit the colander on your platform, don’t leave it there for more than a couple of minutes. Immediately add it to the wok and stir till incorporated.
- Add the chopped coriander and stir.
- Remove from flame, stir in the lime juice, and serve hot.