Upma, Breakfast of Champions!


Upma is not another name for Wheaties if that’s what you were thinking;) It’s a savory South Indian breakfast made from cream of wheat (semolina) or labeled as ‘sooji’ or ‘rawa’ in the Indian store. Upma is also referred to as ‘uppittu’ in Kannada and translates as ‘uppu’ meaning salt and ‘hittu’ meaning flour.  For me, upma is a comfort food and reminds me of my family being together on weekends growing up because my mother would prepare it when she had more time to cook in the morning.  She would alternate making upma with other savory breakfast favorites like dosa, idli, poha on these days…which I’ll tell you about another day.

Sooji or semolina (cream of wheat)

We usually serve upma with plain yogurt and ‘chutney pudi,’ which translates into chutney powder. My mother makes her own chutney pudi from grinding down spices and coconut that she often dries on our roof in Bangalore. It has a spicy and sweet flavor that complements most every dish. My father who comes from North India never ate chutney pudi before he met my mother.  The man loves the stuff and even puts it on his pizza to my mother’s chagrin. You can also buy chutney pudi in Indian stores.

In our house, upma is most often made with different vegetables like potatoes, green pepper, onions, grated carrot, peas, lima beans or tomatoes.  You can also add nuts like cashews to the mix. In India, my mother’s favorite is with the flat bean called avarekai, which kind of reminds me of a cross between lima beans and edamame.  Avarekai comes skinned in the markets in Bangalore and is found in abundance during late Dec and January:

avarekai or flat beans are found in Bangalore markets

In Brooklyn, I don’t have access to avarekai, but I do have potatoes and lots of them so I made my upma with one of those, green pepper and onion:


In restaurants upma is served in the shape of a katori or small bowl mold like I have photographed above – my first time making it like that! It’s quite easy to do and is great for presentation if you are serving it to guests.  Upma is flavored with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut and lemon.  If you don’t have cream of wheat or sooji, I’m sure couscous or quinoa would also do the trick.  My recipe below is adapted from my mother’s.

I’m always on the lookout for more savory breakfasts. What’s your favorite?


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  • Akash Raghav

    Uppittu concret-u anta heltidde naanu avrekaal uppit tinnok munche!! Adra ruchi nodidmele hang heloke mans baralla.. Adre avre uppittu tinnalu sakkattu! Ee nadve nang yaavag uppit beku ansatto aga office indane http://qusec.in/ inda order maadi maneg hod takshna madskond tintini. Rave uppit tinnoke swalpa kashta but avrekaalu iro tanka aa problem illa. Bere yavdaadru graamya tindi idre dayvittu blog maadi! Dhanyavaada…