Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Oats Paneer Khaara Bhaat(Masala Upma)

Indian chefs adapt just about any global ingredient in local cuisine. Oat being a popular American cereal, is also one of them. Oats are used in India mainly in making bread, biscuits, idlis, dosas, fried chicken and the ever popular South Indian breakfast staple Upma.

I had read about 'Champion Oats' in comic books and magazines when I was young. I used to wonder how that may taste. They highlighted it as a healthy choice and showed really energetic and masculine models dressed up like cowboys in the ads those days. However, by the time I saw what real oats look like, it was almost past 3 decades.

Oat meal is considered to be one of the best source of fiber and necessary supplements for healthy living. What we get in the market is processed rolled oats that resemble beaten rice or phova, and  many people consume it by way of making porridge for dietary reasons. I personally can't stand the smell of oats, but I could tolerate it when I tried to eat it mixed in yogurt with added sugar. That tasted like avalakki mosaru(Phova in curd).

Some years ago, when I was active in an Orkut group, my young friend Anitha Prabhu had posted picture of Oats Upma. I made fun of her saying, "Oats are supposed to be eaten for health reasons. Here you are adding excess fat and masalas to suit your taste buds!" She confessed that oats upma indeed tastes very good and has an edge over Bombay Rava(Semolina) as far as nutritional value is concerned. Somehow, I was not ready to experiment with it then, since I was not a fan of oats!

Eventually Meena started eating oats on daily basis, and we always have stock of oats at home. I did try making Kentucky Fried Bread Fruit using oats for the outer crust, after I understood that oat is the key ingredient to make the fried chicken crusty. It tasted even better than Kentucky Fried Chicken.

We had a piece of paneer in the fridge, left over from making some dish. I think it was around 50 grams in weight. Thought, I will make upma using paneer. Then an idea struck my mind. Why not try my luck with oats upma adding paneer? I started to mentally choose the ingredients that I can add. I have made upma, khaara bhaat and rava bisibele bhaat before. It is not difficult for me to make upma with any combination. Hence I decided to make Oats Paneer Khaara Bhaat, and also decided to add some vegetables like capsicum, peas and carrots. I didn't want to overload the khaara bhaat with vegetables, since I wanted paneer to dominate the taste. Paneer by itself has just flavour of milk fat and proteins. So I decided to spice up the upma with garam masala and crushed black pepper, also to add ginger and capsicum for better flavour. End result can be seen in the pictures.

I personally loved the taste, flavour and consistency of the snack. Why don't you give it a try too? After all, you should take good care of health of yourself, and your family members!
Oats - 2 Cups
Water - 4 Cups
Ghee - 2 Tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Urad Daal - 1 Tsp
Chana Daal - 1 Tsp
Cashewnut Bits - 1 Tbsp
Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
Green chillies - 2 finely chopped
Ginger - 1/2 " piece, finely minced
Paneer - 50 Gm, chopped into small chunks
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Carrot - 1/4 Cup, chopped
Fresh Green Peas, - 1/4 Cup
Capsicum - 1/4 cup, chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Black Peppercorns - 1/2 Tsp, crushed 
Garam Masala Powder - 1 Tsp
Lemon - 1/2
Salt - 3/4 Tsp(or to taste)
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1/4 Cup, chopped

Keep 4-5 cups water for boiling.
Once water starts boiling, simmer and keep on standby.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a thick bottom kadai(Wok or deep frying pan) on medium flame and add mustard seeds.
Once they splutter, add both the daals and fry for 30 seconds. 
Now add the cashewnut bits, curry leaves, chopped ginger, chopped green chillies.
Fry well until cashewnuts turn golden.
Add the oats and fry for 2 minutes on medium flame.
Remove from pan and keep aside.
Wipe the pan clean with a kitchen paper or cloth, and add remaining ghee.
Allow the ghee to heat up, then fry the paneer chunks for 1 minute , drain and keep aside.
To the same ghee, add chopped onions and fry until transparent.
Add carrot, green peas and tomatoes.
Fry for 2 minutes on high flame.
Add salt, sugar , turmeric powder, crushed pepper, garam masala powder, capsicum and stir fry for 30 seconds.
Now drop the fried paneer chunks in.
Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, squeeze lemon, add fried oats along with the seasoning.
Allow to sizzle on medium flame.
Keep upsetting the contents gently, don't allow the mass to form lumps or stick to the bottom.
After 2-3 minutes, oats absorb all the water and swell up.
Switch off the flame, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and keep the open pan on the kitchen platform.
After 5 minutes, mix the contents and serve with hot coffee or tea.

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