Upma: A South Indian Brunch Dish

Wow.  Two indian recipe posts in a row.  Mom, I should get an award or something.  I will accept your sarcasm in lieu of that.  That's probably what I'll get.

I used to HATE upma (OOP-mah) when I was a kid.  It wasn't bad at all, but it just LOOKED mundane and monochromatic.  Sad. 

But now, I LOVE it and we have it almost once a week!....Especially because it's sooooooo easy.  And it's just fun to say "Upma".  :)

Upma is what we eat on weekend mornings when we're both drinking coffee at the breakfast table and we suddenly lose 3 hours engrossed in our laptops...accomplishing nothing.  At this point, we're both thinking "we should eat something at some point".  As you might have already deduced, we are excellent caretakers of ourselves.  It's a good thing that we aren't responsible for any children. 

Upma makes a fantastic satisfying South Indian brunch when paired with plain yogurt.  It sounds a little weird to place this in the "brunch" bucket in the land of buttermilk biscuits, eggs, and pancakes, but it really hits the spot, if you're up for adventurous flavor in comfort food.

I know it looks like I went on a scavenger hunt in the woods,
but these are all the things you might find in an Indian pantry. 
Each of these ingredients packs tons of flavor.

Some more prep ingredients: Semolina Flour (aka Rava or "Cream of Wheat") and diced onions and minced green chilies.

Upma makes a fantastic satisfying South Indian brunch when paired with plain yogurt. 
recipe by rabbitfoodrocks
Serves up to 3 lazy adults 
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20-22 mins


2 Tablespoon Canola Oil
2 Tablespoon Ghee
1 stem curry leaves, leaves removed from stem
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
4 or 5 cloves
3 dried red chilies
1 Tablespoons white urad dal
2 Tablespoons raw peanuts or chopped cashews
1/2 large onion, diced*
1 minced green chili (optional - for additional heat)
1 rice cooker cup (~3/4 cup) semolina flour (also known as Rava or Cream of Wheat)
2.5 rice cooker cups (~1-3/4 cup) water***
1 tsp salt or more to taste
1/3 cup plain yogurt
cilantro for garnish
serve with 1/4 cup yogurt per person


1.  Heat oil and ghee over medium heat in a large non-stick pot or wok.  Add curry leaves, asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, and dried red chilies.  Allow the oil to sizzle and the mixture will become fragrant.  Keep stirring and cook for about 1 min. 
2.  Add raw peanuts or cashews and white urad dal.  Stir well. Cook for about 1 minute.
3.  Add diced onion, salt, and green chili.  Cook for 5 mins while constantly stirring.
4.  Add semolina flour and mix well.  Allow semolina to "roast".  Cook for about 7 mins while stirring.  
5.  Add water to the wok.  Initially, upon adding water, mixture should look soupy and unappetizing.  But the semolina flour will quickly absorb the water and become an oatmeal-like texture. 
6.  As soon as it looks oatmeal-y, lower heat to the lowest setting, add yogurt and mix well.  This lightens up the texture a bit.  Immediately cover, and wait for 5 mins.
7.  Give it one good stir again, remove the lid, and wait for about 5 mins.  Remove from heat.  If it looks lumpy or dough-y, you can keep cooking on low for a few more mins uncovered, but don't let the upma burn on the bottom.  Once you remove it from heat and let it sit for a while, it will develop a more firm texture.
8.  Serve with plain yogurt and garnish with cilantro.****

*A finer dice is preferred here.  You can use an electric mini-chopper for best results.  If you don't have a mini chopper, see my next note.
**Why don't you have a mini chopper???
***Semolina Flour and Water ratio is usually 1 : 2.5
****Plating tip:  (Not that I should be the one giving this sort of advice) If you want to serve this as shown in the photo, find an empty ramekin or small bowl and turn it upside down inside another larger empty bowl.  Fill the larger bowl with upma (around the sides of the ramekin).  Then put a plate upside-down over the rim of the bowl.  Now, with your thumbs on the plate and fingers gripping the large bowl underneath, carefully and quickly turn this all upside down.  Lift off the large bowl.  Now you can fill the smaller bowl with yogurt.  Ta-da.


  1. I adore upma! Yes, so easy and fun to say. I don't know why I don't make it more often now that you mention it... Must re-up my semolina supply next time I'm at the store =D.

    1. Thanks! let me know what you think! you're a pro at indian food. ;-)

  2. Oooh I'm going to try this! Sounds much healthier than our usual Costco double chocolate muffins we eat on Saturdays =)

    1. nothing wrong with a lil indulgence!! ps - what is the diff. b/w a double choc muffin and a cupcake? it just sounds more appropriate for breakfast?? ;-)

  3. You're right!!! ** Why don't I have a mini-chopper? Loved this, will have to try it!

    1. Yes!! you MUST get a mini chopper. lol. seriously - mine is always in the dishwasher or in use.

  4. You are just awesome. What an amazing blog and oh: superb photographs. I have upma quite frequently and have recently had the amazing opportunity of having Oatmeal upma. Made by Nisha but inspired by your Mom. Yes, incidently, you and Shef are not the only ones to be inspired! :)

    1. A m i t - I love hearing that I'm awesome. Keep visiting. ;-) Thanks! Oatmeal!!! Funny that the idea traveled from here to across the world and then back here. We must work this out more efficiently! I will try the oatmeal idea! Always appreciate your comments and/or visits!

  5. LOVE south indian food!! Great post:)

  6. Ankur@I_Like_Amee_Food.comJune 05, 2012

    Hey Rabbit, These pictures turned our Great! I regulary eat upma and it is delicious..

    1. awww. you commented. thanks!!! interesting url there...

  7. I've never heard of upma before, but thank you for introducing me to it. It looks delicious. No wonder you make it regularly :D

  8. I hated this dish growing up to, it was always served as some easy-fast-healthy duo. It's hilarious to me that you wrote OOp-mah. Gorgeous pictures and presentation. I'm going to have to try this now that I don't hate it like I was 8. I know I have my mental list of Indian foods that I hated, but love now (ahem, dhal dhokli, lapsi).

  9. Huh. This is such an interesting recipe, Amee. When I looked at the picture, I thought it was moistened bread. Although I have to say that in my house it would likely only feed two lazy adults.

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  11. Wow, have never heard of this dish! Maybe it's because I couldn't pronounce it (until now, thank you). Love your vertical mise en place shot.

  12. hanks! let me know what you think! you're a pro at indian food. ;-)
    <a href="http://www.bombaytalkusa.com/”>South Indian food</a>

  13. I'm going to make a vegan version over the weekend. I have all the ingredients since my friend took me on a tour of the Indian grocery!


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