“Mum, what’s for breakfast?” my kids chorus a split-second after they’ve said their “Good mornings”. The breakfast menu is quite varied at the Rodericks residence. I hate eating the same thing day-in, day-out. As a result, my kids have come to expect something different each of the week: bircher muesli, toast with different spreads, cereal, pancakes, croissants, porridge, French toast, eggs in any form – boiled, sunny-side-up, scrambled, poached…
A firm favourite with all of us is something I learnt to cook from my mum. It’s called Sheera. Made from semolina, it’s a breakfast staple in any South Indian (Udipi) cafe.
I remember when I was little, ever so often after Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Church, my mum and dad would treat us to breakfast at Hindu Hotel (no, NOT a hotel; just a tiny little Udipi joint that, alas, has long since shut shop). While my parents feasted on idli sambar and masala dosa, my brother and I always chose Sheera. Served piping hot on a banana leaf, it was always a startling shade of yellow.
My version is quite different. For one, it’s not yellow. I use oil instead of ghee. I like to add heaps of nuts and cut down on the sugar by adding dates. Here’s my take on Sheera (semolina porridge).
1 cup semolina (suji/sojee/sooji)
1/2 cup oil or ghee
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
8-10 dates; chopped
1/2 cup pistachio nuts (or you can use a mix of different nuts); chopped
4-5 cardamom pods; seeds removed and crushed with a pestle
1 tsp rose water (optional)
In a large, heavy-based pan, dry roast the semolina on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly until it changes colour. Don’t let it turn dark brown; that means you are burning it! Remove from the pan.
- In the same pan, add the oil (cor ghee), and then the milk, sugar, cardamom seeds and dates. Stir until the sugar melts and the dates turn mushy.
- Add nuts and rose water.
- Lastly, add semolina in a slow, steady stream while you stir the milk mixture with your other hand. It will go from being a liquid goop to drying out quite rapidly, so turn off the fire as soon as this happens.
So tell me, are you a ‘breakfast person’ or do you skip it entirely? What do you like eating for brekkie? Do you like variety or prefer to start the day with the same breakfast every morning?