Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I first “invented” this dish.
We were driving back from Niagara- Toronto last summer with extended family. Tired, cranky, bickering children and 7h in a closed car were enough for us adults to throw in the hatchet. Unable to find any decent places to stay a night, A resorted to calling a close friend in Connecticut. Gracious host that he was, he welcomed us with open arms despite no prior notice. We arrived late that night, and went straight to bed.
The next morning, I woke up to find this friend in his kitchen, reading labels off a box and frantically talking on his phone. As I walked in, he quickly bid goodbye, and grinned at me sheepishly.
“I was talking to my wife- seems like I bought the wrong stuff. She’d said she’d tell me how to make upma for breakfast, but now you will have to eat buttered toast instead”. He stared morosely at the box in his hand.
“What’s that?, I asked. He quietly handed me a box of Quaker quick grits.
“She asked me to buy Sooji. I went to store, and described what I wanted. The guy showed me this box, so I bought it. I am so tired of eating butter-toast”
Turned out that his wife was visiting family in India for a few weeks, when A invited himself over. And this friend forgot to mention this fact when we called. His wife didn’t want her uninvited guests to not feel welcome in her absence, so she was trying to be a long-distance hostess through her husband. And now, we had a long-distance couples’ quibble on hand!
I ended up making upma out of grits – much to our friend's happiness, and his wife’s enormous relief when I texted her a picture of it, thanking her for her hospitality! The recipe below is a simpler adaptation. Those of you who are familiar with upma can try your own variation. For the rest, this is my everyday curried grits.
Quaker Quik Grits - 2 individual packs
Frozen peas and carrots - 1/2 cup (soaked in water to thaw)
Onion chopped - 1/2 of a small onion
Spices to taste - salt, red chilli powder and a hint of turmeric
Water - 1 cup
Oil - 1Tbsp
Cumin seeds - a small pinch
A dash of lemon and some cilantro to garnish at the end.
- Heat oil in a wide pan, and splutter cumin seeds.
- Add the onion, saute till translucent and golden.
- Drain and add the frozen peas and carrots. Cover and cook for 4-5 min till they soften.
- Mix in the grits. Dry roast on low flame with the vegetables for 1-2 min.
- Add the spices and water. Keep stirring to avoid clumps.
- Turn the heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed. Stir frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom. Quik grits do not take more than 4-5 min to cook. I let them sit covered for a couple of minutes before serving.
My two cents: I had never heard of grits before, forget about eating them. When I opened the box, the powder sure looked like our sooji, which would explain why the store lady guided our friend to it. Turns out, that grits is a coarse meal made out of corn. Call it corn-rava, if you want. Takes up the flavors just like our regular rava upma and tastes great!
Highly recommend it for a quick, healthy, filling and gluten-free breakfast fix!