Upma (South Indian Savory Porridge)

Upma (pronounced ‘oop-maa’) is a traditional South Indian breakfast dish made from semolina or ‘sooji’. Recipes vary from household to household but this is my favorite way of making it. My mom would make this for me on Saturday mornings after dance classes especially in the winter and it made me feel cozy from the inside out. Semolina is similar to cream of wheat (aka farina) so you can use that instead of going specifically to an Indian grocery store for ‘Sooji’, however it may just turn out a little softer/smoother since it is further processed than semolina.


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 6 to 7 fresh curry leaves (kadhi patta)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped green chilies (seeded if you want less spice)
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1/2 cup yogurt + 1.5 c water well-mixed together
  • 1/2 cup green peas (frozen or fresh)
  • salt to taste


Upma Ingredients

  1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high. Add mustard seeds and wait 1-2 minutes until the seeds start to pop.
  2. Turn heat down to medium. Add urad dal and allow the seeds to blush slightly in color (15-20 seconds). Add asafoetida, curry leaves, onion, and green chilies to the oil, stir and cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Pour the semolina into the pan and stir to combine. Allow the semolina to roast for 3-4 minutes on medium heat while stirring.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes, slowly add the yogurt+water mixture while stirring and then add green peas. Place back on medium heat and cover. Let cook for 5-6 minutes and stir occasionally.
  5. Salt to taste. Can be served with a coconut chutney or eaten plain.

Upma Steps


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