Savory Farina

Time: 35 minutes

I bet that after one look at the title of this recipe either you’ll be intrigued enough to read on or perplexed enough to pass over it. Well, don’t skip it. This is a wonderful version of an “uppama,” which is a fabulous savory farina dish served for breakfast in the south of India.

The texture is like that of cream of wheat or soft polenta, but the spicing is Indian—hot and pungently aromatic. To make the dish more appropriate for dinner, I’ve added peppers and cauliflower.

I love to eat a bowl of this for dinner with nothing else, but you could accompany it with plain yogurt. You could also serve this as a side dish to Roasted Chicken or precede it with Basic Vegetable Salad or follow it with a dessert of Broiled Bananas.

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 small red bell peppers
  • 1 piece (½ inch) fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh green chili (optional)
  • ½ cup roasted cashews, preferably unsalted
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric or paprika
  • cups water
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • ¾ cup farina
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Core the cauliflower, break it into florets, and cut them into ½-inch chunks. Core, seed, and cut the peppers into small chunks. Mince the ginger. Seed and mince the chili, if using. If you’re using salted cashews, rinse them under cold running water and pat dry.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander, and turmeric and stir-fry for a few seconds to release their aroma. Add the ginger, peppers, and chili; sauté for about a minute just to get them cooking. Add the cauliflower and ¼ cup of the water. Cover the skillet and simmer, stirring frequently, over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile mix the remaining 1 cup water with the yogurt and set it aside until later.
  4. Uncover the skillet and cook until any liquid has evaporated. Add the cashews and farina to the skillet and mix well. Slowly add the yogurt mixture and bring the liquid to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The farina tends to stick to the pan, so you need to keep stirring. Then cover the skillet and simmer until the farina is cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and fluff it up with a fork before serving.

Variations

If you’re too chicken to eat spicy cereal, substitute for the farina 1 cup bulgur or couscous plumped in cups water, or use 2 cups leftover cooked grains, like rice or millet.

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