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Ottolenghi’s Fried Upma with Poached Egg

Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for fried upma with poached eggs will revolutionise your weekend brunch game. A twist on a classic South Indian breakfast staple, bursting with flavourful spices, this delicious dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi


Upma, a thick semolina-based porridge, is a popular South Indian breakfast dish or tiffin-box staple. The spices are not as they might be if you were eating this later on in the day but, if your taste buds have woken up, you might want to increase the spices accordingly. The lime pickle is optional because it tends to slightly mask the wonderful flavour of the humble upma. Still, I love it so much that I can’t help but adding a little. I have a bit of a reputation in the test kitchen for the non-return of Tupperware when leftovers have been taken home the night before. Entirely undeserved, of course, but the Indian way makes me think that designated tiffin boxes might be the way forward.

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100g chana dhal
1½ tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing the tray
1 small onion, chopped (90g)
2 tsp cumin seeds
30g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
20 fresh curry leaves (about 3 stems)
2 tsp black mustard seeds, toasted
⅓ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
30g unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
200g coarse semolina
60g ghee or clarified butter
4 eggs
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
100g Indian lime pickle (Pataks or another shopbought variety), optional
120g Greek yoghurt

Essential kit

You will need a a 20 x 20cm tray.


1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the chana dhal. Cook for 30 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and cumin and cook for 4 minutes. Add the ginger, chilli, curry leaves, black mustard seeds, curry powder and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring often. Add the peanuts, cooked dhal and 1 teaspoon of salt and fry for another minute, stirring from time to time. Add the semolina, pour over 400ml of water and cook for a final 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

3. Lightly oil a 20 x 20cm tray and spread out the semolina mix. Use a palette knife to flatten it down before setting aside for about 20 minutes, to cool and set. Wipe down the frying pan, add the butter or ghee and place on a high heat. Use a knife to cut the upma into four squares and then cut each square in half on the diagonal. Add the triangles to the pan and fry for about 6 minutes, turning once, so that both sides turn golden and crispy.

4. You will need to do this in 2 batches so keep them warm, in a low oven, whilst you continue with the second batch, adding more butter if you need to.

5. Finally, poach the eggs. Fill a shallow saucepan with enough water for a whole egg to cook in. Add the vinegar and bring to a rapid boil. To poach each egg, carefully break it into a cup, then gently pour into the boiling water. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and set it aside. After about 4 minutes the egg should be poached to perfection. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the poached egg to a bowl of warm water to keep it from cooling down. Once all the eggs are done, dry them on kitchen paper.

6. Put two triangles on each plate, leaning one up against the other. Spoon a poached egg alongside, with some pickle, if you like, along with some yoghurt. Serve at once.


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