Upma-Savoury cereal

Moist, airy and fluffy upma is the southerner’s any time meal-breakfast cereal, tiffin or even dinner. I’ve watched my mom & several others almost get scalded while stirring boiling water for the gruel. Having done it this way all their life, I understand their reluctance to experiment but with some thought I found a way to make upma without getting steamy in the kitchen. Read on to discover my no-slavery-in-the-kitchen trick that is bound to have you line up for seconds like Oliver Twist.

between 2-2 ½ cups water
medium red onion
1 cup Cream of wheat
Salt to taste
Spice Mix
1 green chili(i used 3)
4 curry leaves
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp fresh ginger
2 tsp coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ green lime (lemon will do)
1 tsp clarified butter or ghee
Serves 4

Pots n pans
Wok or Fry pan


  1. Heat ghee in pan. Roast cream of wheat till you get the aroma of the roasted flour & lightly golden. SOS well roasted flour is the difference between great upma & ho-hum upma, so take about a minute to thoroughly roast the flour.Transfer to plate and let cool.
  2. Chop onions, green chili and ginger. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add urad & sauté till urad turns golden brown. Add onions and sauté till soft. Add the remaining spices. Stir everything together in the pan.
  4. SOS How much water does your upma need. It all depends.. though I’ve said between 2 and 2½ cups, your flour might be different and only testing will give you the right texture. Generally speaking the finer the flour the lesser the water requirement, the coarser the flour the more the water. Add water to the pan with salt, cover with lid & let come to rolling boil-very imp, this rolling boil step, ordinary boil won’t do. SOS remember you can always adjust your cereal to taste. if you like it smooth & creamy increase water ratio, if you like it fluffy reduce water.
  5. Pour the roasted cream of wheat onto the boiling water, stir once, turn off stove and cover pan with lid. Let rest about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove lid from pan and stir everything together to break up any lumps till cereal comes together in one moist mass. SOS Did you notice my simple trick to avoid hot cereal splattering all over. Cereal will cook anyway in boiling water if covered with lid so no need to take unnecessary stirring upon yourself.
  7. Squeeze lemon juice and enjoy with some clarified butter or regular butter.

Health Benefits
While upma is already a healthy and delicious hot breakfast, you can make it healthier, by using quinoa in place of cream of wheat. You could even stifry some vegetables and add to the cereal. Popular choices are peas, carrots or eggplant chopped real tiny & sauteed taste awesome in upma.SOS Regardless of what vegetable takes your fancy, remember just to add about a tablespoon of veg, so your upma maintains its purity without getting overwhelmed under a mass of veggies.

Fun facts
In my mother tongue, tamil, Upma is made up of 2 words: Uppu=salt and Ma=flour, in short savoury cereal. Upma was a popular breakfast choice during the British Raj or British rule in India.You have to give it to the Brits, a smart people who knew a good thing when they saw one.

Suggested Pairing
Upma can be served with many sides, maybe a red peanut chutney or baby mango pickle or better still baby apple pickle from my recent post and some yoghurt. Many of my relatives like to have their upma with a pinch of sugar on the side. I’ll let you decide how you want to serve this savoury cereal and would love to hear from you on how you made this delicious recipe.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks very nice. I don’t usually care for cream of wheat…..but this could change my mind!

    1. soulofspice says:

      Glad to know you’re thinking of trying it. Love to hear how you make out..

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