Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mum's the word

The best part about being disorganised is that every now and then, I stumble upon some treasures I long forgot I had. Which is precisely what happened today. I was rummaging through one of my cupboards looking for an old journal when I came across this pretty lilac box.

Excited doesn't begin to describe how I felt. I forgot all about the journal, dropped whatever it is I was holding, and grabbed the box. It was my mum's box of recipes... well,  one of. I couldn't believe how I'd forgotten about these recipes! What an idiot.

My late mum was a domestic science teacher back in the day. And I mean way back ... in the 1960s. She quit the teaching profession well before retirement to look after us three darling children; but she never stopped cooking ... for us, that is. Because she taught cooking at school, her repertoire of local cuisine was really good. Of course, being the bratty kid that I was, I never actually learnt too many recipes from her while she was alive, though I walloped her food, crumbs and all.

Anyway, back to the box. There were at least 100 recipes in there, all hand written. From Kerabu Taugeh to Jellied Fruit Tartletts, Kobis Masak Lemak to Marshmellows, Papaya Compote to Pineapple Lemonade ... It was simply gratifying to look through them one by one.

It was a little late in the evening to try one of the recipes but I immediately had a craving for one dish she always cooked which I actually did learn -- Upuma. Literally translated, the Tamil word Upuma means salt+flour. It's a common breakfast/dinner dish using semolina flour, mustard seeds, dried chillies, carrots and potatoes (you can also add other vegetables like green peas if you want).

First, you heat abour 1 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan. When hot, add about 1 tsp mustard seeds and onions, sliced thin. When the seeds pop, add the dried chillies, curry leaves, carrots  and potatoes (diced really small) . Add about 2 cups of water (add 1 tsp salt to the water) and when the water comes to a boil, add the semolina  and stir to mix until it cooks -- it's clumps a little and there is no liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Don't allow the upuma to be too dry though. We used to eat it as is, though sometimes with dhall (lentil) curry.

Leftover upuma is usally the next day's breadkfast. Mum would form the Upuma into balls (pressing them real tight that you could actually bite them without them breaking up)  and steam them for about 15 mins, basically just heating it up.

It was  a really nice and nostalgic dinner and I can't wait to try the recipes from the box. I think  I will try the one for marshmellows first.

Thanks mum. Miss you much.


  1. Hope you'll try the Kobis Masak Lemak, too. So nostalgic and touching. Mums are the best!

  2. 'sheila'May 28, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    ur mum must be so proud of her bratty kid!

  3. I love Uppuma :) My grandma's version has ghee-roasted cashew nuts halves in it as well. Gives it a nice texture.

  4. Arrrgh! Error, errorr!

    I meant, cashew nut bits!

  5. Oh yes, anything with ghee roasted cashew nut bits is bound to be fantastic!


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