Upma (Rava Upma) is a popular Indian breakfast dish made using fine semolina, onion, mild spices, and a few more ingredients. It is filling and nutritious and comes together in under 20 minutes. My recipe makes the best fluffy and non-sticky Rava Upma in a jiffy.
About This Recipe
Upma is a thick and fluffy savory porridge made using rava (semolina or sooji), veggies, fresh ginger, curry leaves, and a few more simple ingredients. This South Indian breakfast recipe is easy to make, delicious, and comes together in just 20 minutes.
Traditionally known as Uppumavu, Uppuma, Uppindi, or Uppittu, it is served for everyday breakfast with kesari bath(sweet semolina pudding) or with a side of coconut chutney or podi and filter coffee.
Not only South Indian homes but restaurants, darshinies (roadside South Indian eateries), and tiffin centers also have it on their menu.
Traditionally upma is made using wheat semolina but now you can make many versions using bread, vermicelli, flattened rice (poha), oats, etc.
This Indian semolina porridge is loaded with vegetables, which make it nutritious, filling, and wholesome. You can totally skip the veggies and make a simple version too. It is gluten-free too and can be easily made vegan.
A well-made upma is non-sticky and is bursting with flavors from spices. This dish is very simple to make OR BREAK. If made properly by following the recipe and measurements correctly, you can make fabulous sooji upma at home but if the measurements are off, it will turn into a goopy mess.
But worry not, my step-by-step recipe will break down each and every step for you in detail. Just follow it to the T and make the best rava upma ever.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. Just adjust the ingredients, the time of cooking will remain the same.
You will get all the ingredients to make upma in your nearby Indian grocery store.
Rava – Rava is also called semolina or sooji. It comes in multiple thicknesses but to make rava upma, always choose fine semolina or barik rava. It is also called upma rava or Bombay rava.
Try to buy roasted rava as it has a better shelf life and it also cut down the roasting time in the recipe.
Ghee – You will need some fat to roast the semolina. I highly recommend using ghee (clarified butter) as it lends a very nice flavor to the final dish. However, if you want to make a vegan version, use any plant-based oil instead.
For Tempering – A tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, nuts, and lentils gives it a nice flavor and crunch.
Split and skinned black lentils (urad dal), Bengal gram (chana dal), and nuts like cashew nuts or peanuts add a lovely crunch to the otherwise soft upma and I highly recommend adding these to your recipe.
Other Ingredients – I have also added onion, fresh ginger, and few veggies to my recipe. But you can feel free to skip these and make a plain and simple upma.
I generally add carrot, green beans, and peas which are traditionally added to it but feel free to add broccoli, mushroom, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.
Hot water – The proportion of water to semolina is very important for the right texture of rava upma. I always use 2.5 cups of hot water per cup of semolina and it gives me perfectly fluffy and non-sticky upma every time.
Cilantro and Lime – Do add chopped cilantro (coriander) at the end to make it even more flavorful. A drizzle of lime juice just before serving is highly recommended.
How To Make Upma
Heat 1 tsp ghee in a skillet over medium-low heat. You can use vegetable oil for a vegan version, however best upma is made in ghee.
Add 1 cup fine semolina to the skillet and fry until it turns very light brown and crunchy (2-3 minutes). Keep stirring continuously. Transfer the roasted rava to a plate and keep it aside.
Note – Do not over roast the semolina otherwise upma will turn dark in color. Do not leave roasted semolina in the skillet otherwise, it will keep browning from the heat of the skillet.
Tip – You can roast the semolina in bulk and use it to make upma whenever you want to. It will save you some time.
Wipe the same skillet with a paper towel to get rid of any semolina sticking to it and add the remaining ghee to it. Heat it over medium-high heat.
Once the ghee is hot, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 15-20 curry leaves, 1 tsp split, and skinned black lentils (urad dal), 1 tsp Bengal gram (chana dal), and 8-10 halved cashew nuts and fry until they turn slightly brown (1-2 minutes).
Add ½ cup chopped onion, 2 tsp chopped green chili peppers, and 1 tsp grated ginger and fry until onion turns pinkish in color (2-3 minutes). My husband doesn’t like ginger so I skip it sometimes.
Add ¼ cup chopped carrots and ¼ cup green peas and cook for 3-4 minutes. You can add any vegetables of your choice like green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.
Add 2.5 cups of boiling hot water, 1 tsp sugar, salt to taste, and 1 tbsp lime juice, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the roasted semolina and keep mixing while adding to avoid the formation of lumps.
Cover the pan with a lid. Covering the pan is important as it will let the semolina soak the water and become soft.
Cook for 5-8 minutes on low heat until semolina absorbs the water and is cooked completely. Remove the pan from heat and let it rest for 4-5 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and serve hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it is a great source of protein and carbs. It is also low in fat and calories, making it perfect for your breakfast if you are on a weight loss journey.
Rava is considered to be high in Vitamin B and Iron too. You can load it with veggies and nuts to make it healthier.
To make it in a mug, roast the semolina on a skillet. Then add the roasted semolina along with all the remaining ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the mixture into 4 microwave-safe mugs and micro on high for 30 seconds. Stir the content and micro again for a minute.
Stir again and micro for another 30 seconds. Garnish with cilantro and drizzle lime juice on top. Serve.
To make it vegan, replace ghee with any oil.
No, you cannot use idli rava to make upma. The grains of idli rava is larger in size and upma will not taste good if made using it.
Firstly, roasting semolina properly is very important. If not roasted properly, it might turn sticky when mixed with water.
Secondly, adding cold water can make the upma sticky. So make sure to add roasted rava in boiling hot water.
Instead of roasting the semolina in a skillet, you can roast it in a microwave as well. This method is great to roast it in bulk and store for future use.
Add the semolina to a microwave-safe bowl and micro for 4 minutes on high. Then stir it well and keep microwaving in increments of 1 minute until it is lightly browned and fragrant. Keep stirring after every minute.
If you have a upma premix ready, all you have to do is to add boiling water to it and your upma will be ready in minutes.
Heat ghee in a skillet and add the tempering ingredients to it including green chili, curry leaves, and grated ginger. Fry until curry leaves and green chili are crispy. Add the semolina and roast it until brown. Add sugar and salt and mix well. Do not add onion and veggies.
Now cool this mixture completely and store in an airtight container. Whenever you want to eat upma, just add boiling water and let it rest for 3-4 minutes. Serve.
- You can make many variations of rava upma by replacing semolina with other ingredients such as dalia (broken wheat), sabudana (tapioca pearls), ragi, leftover idli, oats, vermicelli, puffed rice, or even bread.
- You can add more vegetables to make it healthier and filling.
- Add spices such as turmeric powder and red chili powder to make a spicy masala upma. You can also add tomatoes to the masala upma.
- Grind cilantro, mint leaves, and green chili peppers and add the paste to the upma to make a coriander mint upma. It also gives it a beautiful green color.
- In the same way, you can add pureed tomatoes and make a flavorful tomato upma.
The North Indian in me likes to top mine with some sev and also likes to eat it with tomato ketchup. Green Chutney will also go well with it.
You can also serve it with spicy Bombay Chutney. Some households even serve it with pickle, the most popular being lemon pickle.
Rava upma tastes best when served fresh, but in case you have leftovers you can store them in an airtight container for about 2-3 days. It tends to get dry while refrigerating, so before reheating add in a little water and mix well.
You can either heat it in a pan on a stovetop or in a microwave until nice and warm.
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- 3 tablespoons ghee (divided)
- 1 cup fine semolina (sooji or rava)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 10-15 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon split and skinned black lentils (urad dal)
- 1 teaspoon Bengal gram (chana dal)
- 8-10 cashew nuts (halved)
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons chopped green chili peppers
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- ¼ cup chopped carrots
- ¼ cup green peas (frozen)
- 2.5 cups boiling hot water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (coriander)
- Heat 1 tsp ghee in a skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add fine semolina to the skillet and fry until it turns very light brown and crunchy (2-3 minutes). Keep stirring continuously. Transfer the roasted rava to a plate and keep it aside.
- Wipe the same skillet with a paper towel to get rid of any semolina sticking to it and add the remaining ghee to it. Heat it over medium-high heat.
- Once the ghee is hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, split, and skinned black lentils (urad dal), Bengal gram (chana dal), and halved cashew nuts and fry until they turn slightly brown (1-2 minutes).
- Add onion, green chili peppers, and ginger and fry until onion turns pinkish in color (2-3 minutes).
- Add carrots and green peas and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add boiling hot water, sugar, salt, and lime juice, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the roasted semolina and keep mixing while adding to avoid the formation of lumps.
- Cover the pan with a lid. Covering the pan is important as it will let the semolina soak the water and become soft.
- Cook for 5-8 minutes on low heat until semolina absorbs the water and is cooked completely. Remove the pan from heat and let the upma rest for 4-5 minutes. Fluff it with a fork, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.