Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Upma (Cream of Wheat Pilaf with Vegetables)

Upma with Yogurt

Here is a simple and hearty South Indian dish one can cook up in a jiffy with cream of wheat - very satisfying and nutritious too! Upma is such a versatile dish that can be served from breakfast to tea time; in fact any time at all! In the old days people from near or far often dropped by to visit without prior notice and Upma was one of the dishes that would be served to accompany the customary welcome tea. It is an everyday dish that can be dressed up with cashew nuts for special occasions.

Sooji or Rava is a fine Indian cream of wheat. Any type of finely cracked grain can be used including regular cream of wheat. Sooji, Chana Dal, Urud dal, asafoetida, curry leaves and mustards seeds, etc are readily available at Indian markets.

Serves 4


1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) (optional)
½ tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana dal
1 Tbsp Urad dal
1 pinch Asafetida (Hing powder)
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely minced or grated
1 or 2 green Chili, seeds and membranes removed and finely minced
1 small red Onion, finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh Curry leaves
1 tsp Salt or to taste
1/2 cup each shredded carrots, fresh or frozen peas and corn kernels
2 cups Water
1 cup Sooji (Rava or Cream of Wheat)
2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp toasted Cashew pieces (Optional)
½ Lime or Lemon, juiced


1. Roast the grains in a dry skillet stirring constantly until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Pour on a plate and let cool until ready to use. Roasting may be done several days in advance; if you do, cool completely and store in an airtight jar. Roasting the grains results in a fluffy dish whereas the raw grains result in a soft creamy dish. Try roasted or raw, decide for yourself!

2. Heat the oil and ghee in a 2-3 quart pot or an Indian wok (Kadai).

3. Add mustard seeds, Chana dal and Urad dal when the oil is hot and cover with a lid to keep the mustard seeds from escaping while they pop.

4. When the mustard seeds finish popping, lower the heat to prevent burning and add the asafoetida quickly.

5. Stir in the ginger, green chili, the onions, curry leaves and the salt immediately and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and softened.

6. Stir in the vegetables and the water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down so the water is just simmering and cook until veggies are almost tender.

7. Add the cream of wheat in a fine stream while stirring constantly. When all the grains are incorporated and well mixed, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to keep from sticking or burning.

8. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

9. Stir in lime/lemon juice if desired. Stir in or sprinkle on top the cilantro leaves and serve hot garnished with the cashews. Upma is delicious on its own or paired with any Indian pickle or chutney, ripe mango pulisseri, curries, any type of raita, tomato chutney, gothsu, and fresh unflavored yogurt.

Variations: Finely cracked wheat, cream of rice (rice rawa) or coarse cornmeal can be used instead of sooji. Upma can also be made without any onions or veggies; in this case a 1/4 cup of fresh grated coconut is stirred in at the end and cilantro and lemon/lime juice are not added.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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