upma: vegetarian spiced “porridge” recipe

Growing up in New York, this was always a warm, home-cookin’, family meal my mom would make us during winter break. I’d wake up to the smell of the flour roasting and the mustard seeds sizzling…ohhh-my mouth would start water. My husband loves it too, and so on some weekend mornings, when we want a heartier breakfast than our juice/smoothie/egg whites routine, I’ll make this for us (though sometimes I consider making some vegan gluten-free peanut porridge instead, it depends on what the husband wants). It’s also nice as a lunch dish and great for kids, especially if you are introducing spices to them and want them to eat more veggies. This is like a creamy porridge, (that is thicker than the traditional porridge), super nutritious and tastes delicious. Plus saying it, UPMA, is so fun ;)… It’s origin is from south India.

vegetable upma

Recipe Type: brunch
Cuisine: indian
Author: puja (www.chaimommas.com)
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
a vegetarian spiced “porridge” recipe
  • 2 cups rava/sooji flour (also known as semolina flour)
  • handful of cashew nuts in pieces
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped finely
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 small green chillies, (depending on spice level desired), chopped finely
  • 1/8 cup green peas, frozen or fresh
  • 1/8 cup corn, frozen or fresh
  • 1/8 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/8 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp. urad daal, (white split lentils)
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • pinch of asafoetida powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • handful of coriander, (cilantro), leaves, finely chopped
  • lemon wedges, (for juice-to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • grated coconut for garnish (optional)
  1. Sift flour.
  2. Warm the coconut oil on medium heat in a pan and then add the flour, stirring constantly as the flour slightly browns. Then set it aside in another dish.
  3. In the same pan as you just used, add the grapeseed oil and then the mustard seeds.
  4. Once the mustard seeds splatter, add the urad daal and curry leaves and let the daal turn to a slight red color.
  5. Then add in the onion, ginger and green chillies. Add the asafoetida powder.
  6. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion turns translucent.
  7. Add the vegetables, turmeric, cumin, salt and chili powder.
  8. Add in the cashews and saute with the mixture for about a minute.
  9. Add 3 cups water, lower the heat slightly and let it all simmer, covered, until the the vegetables are done.
  10. Add the flour in, slowly, stirring constantly, until it becomes thick. You want it to be smooth and thick and not gloppy- see the pic above.
  11. Remove from heat and squeeze the lemon juice over it.
  12. Serve hot with the coriander leaves on top, (and the grated coconut if desired).
  13. Enjoy!

Try it out and let me know what you think!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *