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Published on March 15, 2022

bowl of upma

Recipe: Celebrate National Nutrition Month with a World of Flavors

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year, let’s celebrate the world of flavors.

As adults, what we ate growing up is usually the basis of our diet. These foods are easy to find in our area, and they fit our budget.

Yet now, with international ingredients becoming easier to find and just as affordable, it might be time to take our diet on a little vacation. Try starting your day with South Indian dish, Upma.

Da Pan Ji


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 ounces dry noodles of choice; thick, flat noodles are best

For the marinade

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, dry cooking sherry or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the stir-fry seasoning

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 6 slices fresh ginger
  • 5 gloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar

For the stir-fry

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, dry cooking sherry or vegetable broth
  • 3-5 cups water
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into bites-sized pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • Salt to taste


  1. Cook noodles using the package directions. Set aside.
  2. Make marinade by combining ingredients in a small bowl. Add chicken and set aside for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Heat canola oil in a wok or large skillet over low heat. Add stir-fry seasonings and cook for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and stir fry chicken until seared.
  4. Add the potatoes and carrots, stir fry for 1 minute, and then add additional stir-fry seasonings and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook covered for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add bell peppers. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt as needed
  6. Transfer noodles to a large plate and cover with chicken and vegetables. Top with scallions.



  • 1 cup rava, which is another name for Cream of Wheat, farina or semolina flour
  • 2 tablespoon ghee, or use a neutral oil such as sunflower, peanut or safflower
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal, or whole chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal or other lentils such as brown, black or French
  • 10-12 cashews
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh green chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 10-12 curry leaves (available in many world markets or online)
  • 2½ cups water
  • Salt and sugar to taste


  1. Roast rava in a dry skillet until dry, crisp and fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Heat ghee or oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal and urad dal. Cook carefully – don’t burn these aromatics – and then add cashew nuts and toast 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the green chili, ginger and curry leaves and reduce heat.
  4. Add the water and season with salt and sugar as desired. Heat until water comes to a rolling boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low and slowly begin adding rava, mixing well with each addition. Once all the rava has been incorporated, cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, is a registered dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital. Learn more about her services.

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