Mussels moilee with lemon vermicelli upma

111 Matt Tebbutt recipe template

Preparation time
less than 30 mins

Cooking time
10 to 30 mins

Serves 4


By Ravinder Bhogal
From Saturday Kitchen


For the mussels moilee

  • 1kg/2lb 4oz fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 15–20 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves, ground to a coarse powder
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced into crescents
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced
  • 5cm/2in fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into very fine matchsticks
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp jaggery or soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • salt

For the lemon vermicelli upma

  • 200g/7oz dried rice vermicelli
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 tbsp white urid dal
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves, leaves picked
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 green bird’s-eye chillies, split lengthways
  • 5cm/2in fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into very fine matchsticks
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut, toasted
  • handful peanuts, toasted
  • handful chopped fresh coriander


  1. To make the mussels moilee, discard any mussels with broken shells and any that refuse to close when tapped. Wash well under running water. Pull out the tough, fibrous beards protruding from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with a large knife. Give the mussels another quick rinse to remove any grit.

  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole until smoking and add the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds start popping, add the asafoetida and then the curry leaves. Reduce the heat, stir briefly then add the cumin, cloves, onion and some salt to stop the onions browning. Fry over a gentle heat until the onions have softened and turned pale pink.

  3. Add the chilli and ginger and fry for a few minutes more. Sprinkle in the turmeric and jaggery and stir for another minute. Whisk the tamarind into the coconut milk and pour the liquid into the saucepan along with 400ml/14fl oz water. Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for around 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, to make the lemon vermicelli upma, put the vermicelli in a heatproof colander and pour over water from a freshly boiled kettle. Heat the oil in a wok and add the urid dal. Once it starts to go golden, add the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, turmeric, chillies, ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice and coconut milk and stir. Throw in the vermicelli and fry for 20 seconds. Remove from the heat and scatter with the toasted coconut, peanuts and coriander.

  5. Add the mussels to the tamarind and coconut broth. Cover the pan and steam for around 3–4 minutes, giving the pan a gentle shake a couple of times. Discard any mussels that remain closed. Squeeze over the lemon juice, sprinkle over the coriander and serve poured over the upma.

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