What do you get when you combine sweet mixed peppers with carrots and green Kale, toss them with Penne pasta, and garnish with South Indian style tempering of aromatic spices, aka, tadka, curry leaves and crunchy peanuts?!!! You get an Italian in South India, shaking hands over a delectable, healthy and delicious Mixed Peppers Pasta Upma – South Indian Style.
Mixed Peppers Pasta Upma – South Indian Style
I am from Tamil Nadu where we use the tempering used in this recipe for almost all types of food, from chutneys to simple stir-fry.
- Mustard seeds – Known as “kadugu” in Tamil and “rai” in Hindi are the small round seeds of the Mustard plant. We use the black seeds in South India.
- Urad dal – A lentil with origins in India, we use the white variety which has the outer black covering removed.
- Dry red chilis – Indian use dried red chilies in nearly every dish, even cold drinks, and desserts. Roasting the chilies brings out their natural flavor and adds depth to the dish.
- Asafoetida – Called as “hing” in Hindi and “perungayam” in Tamil, it is a gum extracted from the root of the plant “Ferula” which is dried and ground. An extremely pungent spice which when combined in small quantities in dishes creates a smooth finish to a dish. It is considered as the “umami” of Indian cuisine.
- Curry Leaves – A quintessential ingredient of South Indian cooking. Called “karuvepalai” or “sweet neem”, the leaves are distinctly aromatic with a slightly nutty pungent taste.
The above ingredients are fried in a teaspoon of sesame seed oil. The smell, the heavenly smell that wafts through the air when you are preparing the tempering is only second to the sound of the sizzle that you hear when poured on top of a dish. It completes and enhances a dish.
Pasta is used in various forms around the world. In India, Vermicelli (Semiya, Seviyan) is in savory and sweet recipes. We make Semiya upma with various spices all across India.
So using Penne pasta that is made in South Indian style is not a stretch. This recipe is a perfect combination of new age vegetables like the superfood kale and end of summer medley of sweet peppers with South Indian cooking techniques. An example of my Rambles.
Try my Paneer Pistachio-Spinach Parathas for another Italian-Indian Fusion dish.
- Make it with only root vegetables and celebrate Fall.
- Garnish with toasted fresh coconut for a tropical feel.
- Or make it lemony by adding juice from 3 lemons.
- 450 grams Penne Pasta approx: 1 full box of Barilla Penne Pasta
- 2 Tbsb Kosher Salt
- 16 Cups Water approx: 3500ml
- 2 Tbsb Sesame Seed Oil
- 5 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 inch Ginger minced
- 15 Peppercorns
- 2 Green Chilies
- 3/4 Tbsb Kosher Salt
- 1000 grams Mixed Peppers, sliced in 1" squares approx: 8-10 Peppers - your choice of green, red, yellow or Spanish peppers
- 200 grams Carrot approx: 2 large carrots sliced thin
- 500 grams Kale approx: 4-5 stalks of dark green Kale
Bring a big pot of water with salt to a boil. Add the dry pasta and cook for 15 or so minutes till the penne is al dente (cooked through but firm to the bite). Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a medium skillet, add minced garlic, ginger, green chilies, salt and ground peppercorns. Sauté for a minute. Now add the peppers and carrots, sauté till the peppers have softened and carrots are cooked but firm to bite. Toss the vegetables with the cooked pasta.
Heat oil in a small skillet till hot to touch, add mustard seeds. After the seeds, crackle, add urad dal and roast till golden brown. Add asafoetida and red chilies. Stir. Switch off the flame. Add curry leaves. The curry leaves will burst as the oil touches the leaves. Add the peanuts and toss to combine.
Spoon the pasta into a big serving bowl and garnish with the tempering.
- Don't add oil to the salted water when you cook the pasta.
- Adjust spice levels according to your taste.
Storage: The recipe makes for 8 servings. You can reduce it or make the entire recipe for the next day. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container.
Leftovers: These are yummy leftovers for lunch the next day. And taste so good when cold or at room temperature too.