Root vegetables with semolina

N: When I was a little girl savoury semolina was an afternoon treat on weekends. I would watch my mother measure out the semolina and often ask her “Maa will that be enough?” Maa would always say “Semolina expands when you add water to it and it will further expand in your stomach.” The image stuck in my impressionable mind and when I feel very hungry and do not have much time on my hands I generally turn to semolina for a quick fix.

For this dish semolina is not really the main ingredient. It is mainly a medium to celebrate the sweetness of fresh root vegetables at the end of summer and beginning of autumn.

This is for 2 people and takes about 30 minutes.

– Start with one small onion sliced into thin stripes. I use red onion for this as it adds to the sweetness of the dish.

– Measure 1/2 cup of fine semolina. I go by 1/4 cup per person for this dish.

– Toast the semolina in a saute pan or shallow sauce pan over low heat. This operation needs your undivided attention for about 5 minutes and it is a good exercise in meditation. It will take about 2/3 mins. The best way to determine if the semolina is done is to use your olfactory senses and detect the aroma of toasted semolina. This comes with practice but if you miss the smell look for colour and stop when the semolina turns light brown. Set the semolina aside.

– Add one tbsp of oil to heated saute pan and add 1 tsp of mustard seeds and 3 to 4 curry leaves to it. This will season the oil.

– Add the sliced onions to the saute pan and add 1 tsp of black pepper. Sweat the onion for about 10 mins.

– Use this time to grate 2 small carrots and 1/2 of a medium sweet potato. It is very important that the vegetables are young and fresh as the main ingredient in this dish is their natural sugar. You can also add 1/2 bell pepper to add volume.

– Add the grated root vegetables to the onion and cook for further 5 mins. The vegetables should still be crunchy but should not feel raw.

– If you want the dish to be more luxurious then add a handful of raisins and nuts at this point. I generally add a few tbsp of boiled brown lentils to give it a protein boost.

– Turn down the heat and add the semolina. Toss it around so that semolina coats the grated vegetables.

– Sprinkle some water and allow the semolina to cook for a few mins.

– Dust it with sweet paprika and salt to taste.

– Serve warm. Add some chopped coriander leaves if you have them handy.


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