Simply Bread Upma

January 11, 2013

The weeks in the run up to Christmas are a blur. A crisis of sorts was brewing on the client front. Which means, not much was brewing on the home front.

I got ready in near darkness, pulling last night’s dinner out of the fridge for the kids lunch, before the mad work dash. In my infinite wisdom, I tasked the man with control of the weekday meals.

If there is a Peruvian food trend sweeping the world, it certainly hasn’t affected my half-Peruvian man. He is, singlehandedly, the prime customer for Sacla Pesto Pasta.

Cooking, for him, is the brave attempt to stir a jar of the sauce into overcooked pasta. He sent ripples of disgust through the Italian countryside, when he shared his penchant for stirring bacon and onions into pesto pasta on one of our holidays.

When he’s feeling less adventurous, he shoves a pizza into a hot oven. In between his special brand of creative cookery, and my rejection of the kitchen, the festive season came and went. And then, mierda, our food went stale.

So while I had great plans to start the year with a suitably decadent recipe, instead, I give you stale bread. And funnily, this post has been simmering long before this article on food wastage hit the headlines.

Honestly, I’m no stranger to the odd bit of food wastage. But over the years, I have found that a generous helping of spices can help rescue many ingredients beyond their prime. My top faves are:

  • Navratan Korma, a spiced coconut curry with nine vegetables, served with steaming hot Basmati rice
  • Pulao, of any sort really. Quick, and delicious, with a bowl of thick yoghurt and pickle
  • Jhalfrezi, of chicken, beef or prawn, a quick stir fry with easy to source ingredients that can be bought on the way home

More recently, I’ve even turned 2 pints of milk into paneer. Something that I would have never considered in the not too distant past!

The recipe here is one that I grew up with in India. I suspect it had something to do with leftovers back then too. Bread Upma is a simple saute with fresh tomatoes and onions that doubles up as a lovely brunch or kid-friendly snack.

I have only one New Year’s Resolution this year, to get better at preventing perfectly good ingredients from making the dustbin heap! So please share your favourite recipes for leftovers, and let’s all have a less wasteful year ahead.

Bread Upma 550


Feeds 2:

  • 4-5 slices of stale bread (I used wholemeal as that’s what I buy)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 medium onion
  • Half tsp turmeric
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp mustard seeds
  • Half tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • Fresh coriander
  • Half tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil


Chop the tomato and onion roughly. Slice the bread into large bite-sized pieces. You don’t want them too small as they’ll just crumble.

In a frying pan, bring the oil to heat on high. When it’s hot, toss in the curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and as they sizzle up, mix in the onions. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion for five minutes until they start to soften and take on colour.

Next, toss in the tomatoes and the powdered spices along with the salt. Stir well for two minutes and as the tomatoes start to disintegrate, gently mix in the bread cubes. Fold the masala into the bread, warming it up in the process. When the bread is well coated, serve hot with a sprinkling of the fresh coriander if you have it.



11 Responses to “Simply Bread Upma”

  1. IshitaUnblogged Says:

    March 5th, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Just hopped onto this post and realised that probably because of the half-Peruvian man in your life, you could be the best one to answer about Pisco Sour. Have you tried making it at home?

  2. helen Says:

    January 23rd, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Brilliant idea…..:-) :-) :-)

  3. Ann Says:

    January 14th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I have a loaf quietly going stale as I type. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Happy new year, Mallika! Here’s to men who cook (even if it’s more like reheating — there are some days I’m so busy, I’ll happily take a frozen pizza! :)

  4. Varsha Dutta Says:

    January 13th, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Hey Mallika!
    Bread upma was always a favorite but I always got soggy bread in the end which baffled me, until I learnt that using very little oil was the clue to getting nicely toasted bread that crunches a bit and is awesome to eat.
    Nice resolution! Happy new year!

  5. Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment Says:

    January 13th, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Great looking way to use up stale bread! I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks and happy new year to you, Mallika!

  6. Poornima Says:

    January 12th, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Love your resolution! Have a great year ahead.

  7. Mary Says:

    January 12th, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Whenever I have stray veggies going south in the fridge, I make a big pot of sambar with them. Oddly, fennel bulb, radishes, and green capsicum make a great sambar! Happy New Year!

  8. Charul @ Tadka Masala Says:

    January 12th, 2013 at 6:44 am

    I always look forward to your post mainly because I love the way you write. Well the recipes that follows are a added advantage. :D
    We add some namkeen to the upma to give it a crunch!

  9. Says:

    January 11th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Love your writing and post. I save veggies scraps such as carrot peels, mushroom stems, cabbage core etc and make stock or broth. Save the stock in ice trays and use it for soup or cook rice with. Good way to add some extra nutrients n flavor to a dish.
    Happy new year :)

  10. Marlee Says:

    January 11th, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Good to see a fav. recipe in the new yr :) Happy New Year to u n ur family!

  11. 30in2005 Says:

    January 11th, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    2012 was a whirlwind and I for one am glad to see the back of it.

    Strangely I have never even heard of bread upma but hey I’m all about not wasting what I buy so I shall give it a whirl. Certainly looks appetising.

    Happy new year!

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