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a bowl of food on a plate

Photo: James Lenhart / Contributor 

The first time I tasted the creamy deliciousness of Southern corn grits in a nondescript suburban American hotel, my mind flashed with visions of how much more flavor a pop of mustard seeds, a crackle of fried kari leaf and a drizzle of jaggery and lemon would have added to my breakfast.

Grits were introduced by native Americans in the 16th century using stone-ground corn or hominy and are now a staple in many parts of the country. Grain or vegetable mashes are common in many ancient cultures, from the African fufu made with plantain and cassava flours to uppma, an aromatic toasted semolina and vegetable hash from southern India. Uppma can be made from corn or rice grits, semolina or polenta and can be great vehicle for leftover vegetables.

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