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Upma worth $100,000
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Upma is to south India what bread and butter is to the rest of the world, and yet it took New York chef Floyd Cardoz a handful of mushrooms, some coconut milk and chicken stock to make it win the popular US TV show, Top Chef Masters (season 3). The Mumbai-born chef, who bagged the $100,000 title on Wednesday, made the dish under the category of his first food memory. “I remember having upma at home with my family with with tea but I have to make a little bit of changes to it,” said Cardoz on the show.

Traditionally a semolina-ginger-onion breakfast staple, it is now trending on Twitter and has made the country sit up and take notice of how a simple dish, not even on the menu of most gourmet restaurants in India, could prove a jackpot winner.

Cardoz named his prize-winning version ‘Wild Mushroom Upma Polenta with Kokum & Coconut Milk’.

Floyd Cardoz’s winning upma recipe

Four servings
2 cups cream of wheat
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shallots
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon chillies
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, as garnish
Pea shoots, as garnish
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup Maitake
1/2 cup king oyster mushrooms
2 shallots
1 chilli pepper
1 knob ginger
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white port
1 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1. Heat oil and cream of wheat and toast for 10 minutes on low heat. Remove from pan
2. Heat oil mixture then add mustard seeds and whisk until seeds pop. Add cumin and reserve
3. Heat pan. Add spice oil and butter. Add shallots, ginger, chillies, and cook for 2-4 minutes. Add cream of wheat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add stock and coconut milk. Mix and cook. Simmer
4. Should be smooth.

Directions for mushrooms
1. Heat oil in sauté pan. Add mushrooms and cook with lightly coloured sear
2. Add butter, shallots, ginger and chilli
3. Deglaze with white port
4. Season with salt and pepper and cilantro.

What city chefs say
For us, upma scores high on nothing. It’s like a blob on a plate. Adding mushrooms and tomatoes to the original three-step recipe seems like an inspiration from its Italian variant, polenta
Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, Olive Bar & Kitchen

I think what made the dish click was the fusion spin. An upma made the traditional way may not have made such noise. He made the humble wheat dish look like gourmet
Chef Tarun Kapoor, The Metropolitan

While we go on aping the West, we tend to overlook our own dishes. It’s heartening that Floyd Cardoz chose to make something Indian. It must make all Indian chefs proud
Chef Debraj Halder, Suryaa

( Courtesy: )

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