One of the most popular breakfasts in Southern India, upma (or vegetable upma, as in this case), is easy, quick, and delicious. Every mom and homemaker in South India whips up upma in a matter of minutes for a delicious mini meal, school lunch, or after-school snack for hungry kids. What is upma anyway? Upma is made with semolina (farina, rava, sooji), and sometimes vegetables get into the mix too. Innovative home cooks have often replaced semolina with bread, quinoa, rice flakes, and oats to make upma. Upma is also called uppittu or khara bhath.
Although I must confess, in every house, there are some folks who will run miles from upma, and others who love it. I love upma when it is warm and fragrant with mustard seeds, green chillies, and cilantro, not to mention fresh vegetables. It tastes even better if you have some toasted cashew nuts to garnish. Upma makes for a quick weeknight dinner too….and I often make upma when I am alone at home. Leftover upma makes for a nice lunch too. I customize upma with fresh veggies that I have at the time, but I definitely add some peas and carrot to make a really colorful upma. Here you will find one upma that is yellow, and another non-yellow version.
So, what is the difference – can you tell? Hmmm……just a pinch of turmeric, which gives the upma a lovely yellow color, rendering it a pilaf-like look.
Here are the ingredients I used for the upma:
1 cup semolina
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup mixed vegetables, carrots, peas, beans, etc.
1 small tomato, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely diced
1″ piece ginger, grated
A few curry leaves
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Roasted cashew nuts to garnish (optional)
Coriander leaves for garnish
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
A pinch of turmeric
A tad of fresh ghee or melted butter drizzled on the upma gives it extra flavor and (calories!). Yum.