Upma Recipe: What It Is & How to Make?

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upma recipe

Any Indian knows that upma is a staple Indian breakfast. It doesn’t matter which part of India you are from; I’m sure you have had upma for breakfast. But having the same preparations of upma gets boring after a while, especially if you have packaged instant upma, which retails in convenience stores. So, we have listed a range of upma recipes to make your dish a bit different and interesting. From sweet upma preparations to extra spicy, let’s get into the best upma recipe. But before we start talking about the recipes, let’s know a little bit about what is upma?

upma recipe
upma recipe

What is Upma?

Upma, or Uppittu, is a dish that has originated from Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Odia, and Andhra Pradesh. It is cooked into a porridge-like texture from semolina. However, rice flour is also used sometimes. Vegetables and spices are added accordingly to preference.

The semolina was a dish that widows consumed. Widows were not allowed to eat spicy food or a full meal. So they used to make upma out of semolina and rice flour for their meals. Soon, upma started to become a quick snack for the middle-class office workers. Upma started to have more variations, and a lot of vegetables and spices were added to it to make it more flavourful.

Quick preparation of upma- The semolina is added and dry roasted first. Then it is kept elsewhere, and other spices are added to oil and ghee. After sautéing the spices for a minute or two, the roasted semolina is added.

Stir the concoction and add water to your liking. The semolina will absorb water and become soft and fluffy. This is the basic recipe of upma. You can change it any way you want by adding spices or removing them. So, let’s talk about the upma recipe in the segments below properly.

Upma Recipe

Spicy upma recipe

This is a recipe that will challenge your taste buds, and you will never make bland and spiceless upma ever again. This recipe is flexible and can have multiple variations. However, the water to semolina ratio will depend on the texture that you want in your upma. Use one cup semolina and two cups water for a firmer consistency. If you want a mushy and porridge-like texture, add one cup semolina and three cups water.

Tip- add curry leaf to your spicy upma. This will amp up your upma recipe, and it will taste a lot better as curry leaf lends a unique taste to the upma.


  1. For roasting the semolina, you need two tablespoons of oil/ghee, and of course, semolina.
  2. For the tamarind, you need 2.5 tablespoons of tamarind and 176 ml water.
  3. Seasoning- 2 tablespoon oil, 9 curry leaves, mustard seeds, 1.5 teaspoon turmeric, finely chopped cabbage, and carrot, potatoes (diced), peas, 3 cups water, 2 teaspoon chili powder, 1.5 tablespoon sambar powder, salt, and pepper.

To start, mix the tamarind in water to make a tamarind paste. Use hot water to accelerate the process. In a pan, melt the ghee, and stir the semolina in it. Roast it until it turns dry and releases a nice smell, and keep it aside. In the same pan, stir the mustard, curry leaves, and turmeric. Add the vegetables, and cook for about 6 minutes.

Then pour the tamarind water into the pan. Add chili powder, salt, and other condiments to your liking and boil. Add the semolina, and allow it to absorb the water. Cook it until the water is absorbed and the texture is to your liking. After it is cooked, please remove it from the pan, and serve.

Tomato upma recipe

Tomato upma is a very flavourful version of upma. It has a tangy kick to it because of the tomato, and it is spicy as well. You can make it less spicy by skipping the chili powder. Serve it with a bit of butter or ghee drizzled on top.

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Heat a pan, then add your semolina grains. It can be one cup or two cups. Start roasting your semolina grains. Stir constantly. In a while, the semolina grains will start looking dry and will smell nice. Please remove it from the pan, as we don’t want to over-fry the semolina. Take the semolina off the pan, and put it aside.

For the seasoning

In a pan, put oil. Then add your mustard seeds. Please don’t get scared when they are making noise, because it means they are getting cooked properly. Reduce the heat, and add a little cumin with 1 teaspoon urad dal and 1 teaspoon chana. Keep stirring them until they take a golden-brown color.  Then add three chilies (red or green), and add two-thirds cup onion to the mixture.

Fry the onions until they become almost see-through. Add ginger to your liking and curry leaves (7-8). Add your tomatoes and turmeric powder. Mix it very well, and make sure the tomatoes are getting soft. Add around 3 cups of water to the mixture. Heat it, and slowly add your roasted semolina. Start stirring the semolina slowly until they soak the water and start getting fluffy. Cook for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Garnish with coriander and enjoy.

Vegetable upma recipe

This is a version of upma that is basic and very easy to make. You can make it easy for a quick, on-the-go breakfast, or you can have it for a lazy dinner after a long tiring day at work. As vegetable upma is very easy to make, this upma recipe is minimal but flavorful. It only takes around 15 minutes to prepare.


1 cup semolina, 1.5 cups chopped onion, 1 cup peas, chopped vegetables (carrots, beans, cabbages, potatoes), green chilies to your liking, curry leaves, urad dal (1 teaspoon), cashew, oil to liking, salt, coriander for garnish.

Roast the semolina in a pan first, and keep it aside. Heat oil, and add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, and the dal. Fry until the mustard seeds make noise and the dal turns slightly brown. Add in the onions, chilies, and any vegetable you want to add. Sauté until onions turn slightly brown. Add water, and cook until vegetables are soft. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Slowly add the semolina and stir. After it’s cooked, remove it from the fire and garnish with coriander, and serve.

Upma recipe Kerala


When it comes to the upma recipe from Kerala, there are a lot of savory varieties. As upma originated from Kerala, it is a well-loved dish by everyone there. Everyone there has their own personal way of cooking upma. Each household has different recipes which work for them.

Moreover, people not only have it for breakfast, but it is a staple for lunch and dinner as well. So, we are going to take a look at two types of upma here; Rava upma (Kerala style) and idli upma.

Rava upma

Heat any type of oil over low heat. For this recipe, coconut oil is preferred. After the oil is heated, add mustard seeds, chili, chopped onions, and curry leaves. Fry until onions start to lose color. Add in any vegetable to your liking. It can be potatoes, carrots, etc. Add in water. Then add the roasted semolina. Mix well to get rid of clumping. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, for a Keralan touch, grate coconut and drizzle ghee over your upma for that extra kick of savory and sweet. Serve with steamed plantain.

Idli upma

Have leftover idli lying in the fridge? Well, do not waste it. Make idli upma with it. Don’t worry. This recipe works with fresh idli as well and only takes 10-15 minutes to make.

There are a lot of varieties in idli upma recipes. You can add in different types of vegetables. Some recipes even incorporate dry fruits. However, this recipe is kept simple and nonspicy.

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Break your leftover idlis into small pieces and keep them aside. Fry your mustard seeds, cumin, and urad dal in a well-oiled pan. Keep stirring them until the dal turns brown. Add your curry leaves, onion, and chili (not much as it is a nonspicy recipe). Now, add in your leftover idli. Saute it for some time and add coriander. Mix it well, and serve.

Sweet upma

One of the sweet upma dishes loved by South Indians and other people all over India is Rava Kesari. It is the dessert version of upma and is made with sugar, ghee, semolina, raisins, and different types of nuts.

The unique color of this dish comes from the addition of kesar. It is a simple dish to make and takes around 20-25 minutes.


Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Fry your cashew nuts and raisins until the cashews turn slightly brown, and the raisins swell. Pour your Rava (semolina) into the mixture. Toss it in the pan and roast it. While the Rava is toasting in the pan, boil your water simultaneously. You can even use milk as an alternative.

When the water is boiled, add it to the semolina. Mix it well and cook it for a few minutes on low heat. Add one cup of sugar or more for preferred sweetness. Sprinkle your Kesar and cardamom if you want to. Add ghee, and continue to cook it until everything mixes well. Serve with dry fruits on top of your Rava Kesari.

Extra tips- get your proportions right, properly roasting the Rava, and constantly stirring will make your Rava Kesari better.

Bread upma recipe

Just like leftover idli, if you have any leftover bread, do not discard it. Make bread upma for breakfast, as it is a very filling and savory option.

But this recipe is a little bit different than your regular traditional up. The semolina in this recipe is swapped with leftover bread. It doesn’t even need much water, as bread does not need to swell, unlike semolina.

It is an enjoyable dish as it is kid-friendly and very quick to make (30 minutes)


Leftover bread, curry leaves, dal, any kind of nuts, tomatoes, onions, chili powder, green chili, water, coriander.


Heat oil in a pan. Add your mustard seeds. Cook it until it starts making noise. Then add your assortment of dals, nuts (cashews or peanuts), and sautee it in the pan until it starts to turn brown. Add your chilies, curry leaves, and other spices if you want to. Add onions and tomatoes and stir it until it turns into a paste-like texture. Now, put in your chili powder, salt, and sugar to taste. Pour in your water (one-third cup) and slowly stir. Finally, put in the bread cubes and stir. Serve with coriander.

Dalia upma recipe

Dalia upma is a very healthy version of upma, as Dalia is just broken wheat. It is better than heavily processed atta or maida. Dalia is a great source of protein and fiber. You can make several other dishes with Dalia, like pulao, khichdi, or porridge. It is also very filling.


Roast the Dalia in a dry pan. Keep the heat low, and roast it until it’s brown. After it has finished roasting, set it aside.

In a separate pressure cooker, heat oil. Add your mustard seeds, nuts, and onion. Fry for a few minutes on low flame. Add your vegetables slowly along with salt and sugar. Then add the Dalia, along with water (1.5 cups). Cover the pressure cooker with a lid, and let it cook. Turn if the heat after you hear two whistles from the pressure cooker. Garnish with lemon and grated coconut.

Do try out this recipe and let us know how you liked it!

Final Thoughts

So, we have come to the end of this blog. I hope all these delicious and wonderful upma recipes fill up your stomach and heart with joy. Now you can prepare this for yourself, and even for family and guests! All of these recipes are not very time-consuming and are really tasty. So, what are you waiting for? Create your perfect upma dish and enjoy! And don’t forget to tell us which of the recipes you tried.