Upma is also known as Uppuma, Uppittu, Upeet and Kharabath. It is a traditional South Indian breakfast dish made from dry roasted semolina or Rava as known in Indian cooking. Rava is also called as Soji in Gujarati and Suji in Hindi and is the cream of wheat, i.e., the coarse purified wheat middling’s of durum wheat. Upma is usually served at breakfast, hot with coconut chutney, plain yogurt, lime slices or lime pickle.
Upma is one dish that is widely available in all restaurants and street food outlets in India and in many Indian restaurants in the UK. Upma is not only delicious but also a healthy breakfast option.
Making upma is easy and quick; it can be made in 15-20 minutes, if you have the roasted semolina ready. Mostly, I prepare and roast semolina beforehand, saving time in preparing other semolina based dishes and this way it remains fresh for a longer time period in an air-tight glass container.
The best way we enjoy upma is with coconut chutney and hot chai for a comfort breakfast on a Sunday morning.
This version of South Indian upma is the basic version that I usually make it at home and has been adapted from a variety of others I have tried previously.
As I have grown up used to this recipe, I dislike people’s ignorance when the pass off a humble rava upma with vegetables as rava khitchdi. The difference between a rava khitchdi and upma is of course the addition of vegetables. However, rava khitchdi does not have dals added to the tempering unlike upma and also it has other whole spices unlike upma.
Upma (Roasted Semolina with Onions and Spices)
250g roasted semolina (fine or couarse variety)
1 medium sized onion
2 green chillies
1 tablespoon chana dal
1 tablespoon urad dal
½ inch grated ginger
2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
a few limdo leaves
100g cashew nuts
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
salt as required
- Prepare all the ingredients for the upma. Firstly, finely chop the onion, 2 green chillies and grate ½ inch ginger and some coriander leaves.
- Heat a pan or kadai first. Add half of the soji and begin to roast the soji. Stir often while roasting the soji.
- The soji grains should become fragrant and start to look dry, separate and crisp. Ensure the soji is stirred often and is not browned or burnt.
- Once crisp, place the roasted soji on a plate and keep aside.
- In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil. I usually mix both oil and ghee.
- Add mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Once they have stopped crackling, take off the heat and add cumin seeds and asafetida.
- Now add chopped onions, green chillies and grated ginger. Sauté for a few seconds until translucent. Do not allow them the mixture to brown or burn.
- Add chana and urad dal and fry till they begin to brown slightly.
- Immediately add cashew nuts and begin to fry. The cashews will start to become golden brown and the dals will also have cooked to the same golden colour.
- Then add the limdo leaves and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant.
- Add the water to the mixture. Add salt as required. Stir well.
- On a medium to high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil. When the water reaches to a rolling boil, lower the flame to its lowest. Then add the soji in small batches with a spoon and stir immediately.
- Continue to stir and combine the soji well with the water and other ingredients. The soji grains with absorb the water, aiding them to swell and cook in the heat.
- Cover and allow the upma to steam for 2 minutes on the lowest heat level.
- Lastly add about chopped coriander leaves and stir well.
- Serve upma with coconut chutney, lime slices or pickle and chai.