Upma Recipe | Rava Upma

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The upma recipe I share here is adapted from my mom’s recipe and continues to be a favorite in my home. The ingredients used to flavor the rava give it a deliciously satisfying taste that will make this dish one of your new favorite go-to breakfasts.

upma garnished with cilantro and a lemon wedge served in a dark green blue rimmed plate on a dark blue wooden board

What is Rava Upma

Upma is a flavorful South Indian breakfast dish made from rava or cream of wheat.

This traditional dish involves cooking roasted rava in water that has been flavored by ghee (or oil), cashews, urad dal (lentils), chana dal (husked chickpeas), onion, ginger and additional herbs and spices. Sugar can be added for a mildly sweet and savory dish.

This steaming hot breakfast dish can be made vegan by using oil instead of ghee. Full of warmth, flavor and deliciousness, this upma tastes so good. So why not take a break from that boring oatmeal and try something new? You can’t lose!

The main ingredient in any upma recipe is rava. Also called ‘suji in Hindi and ‘cream of wheat’ or ‘semolina’ in English, it is simply granulated wheat.

What really makes an upma breakfast dish special are all the fried ingredients that are used for tempering. These ingredients can vary depending on the recipe, but usually include some sweet, savory and nutty flavors.

Upma is a traditional breakfast served in restaurants throughout South India, including Maharashtra. It is also a common breakfast prepared in South Indian homes. In fact, upma was a regular breakfast or evening snack in my house while growing up.

upma garnished with cilantro and a lemon wedge served in a dark green blue rimmed plate on a dark blue wooden board

Prep Tip to Make Upma Quicker

This warm, homemade breakfast can be made relatively quickly, especially with this one easy tip. In the step-by-step photo guide below, you will see the first few steps of roasting the rava (cream of wheat).

This can easily be done ahead of time and I actually recommend roasting your rava and keeping it in an air-tight container right after purchase. This will help it stay good longer and prevent it from becoming moldy or spoiled. 

Having your rava already roasted means this hot breakfast can be prepared in only 15 to 20 minutes. Roasted rava can also be used in a variety of other recipes, including Rava Cheela and Rava Pongal.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Upma

Preparation and roasting rava

1.  Prep the ingredients first. Take 1 cup rava (fine variety), ⅓ cup finely chopped onions, 1 teaspoon chopped green chillies, 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro). Also take 8 to 10 curry leaves, 10 to 12 cashews, 1 teaspoon chana dal and 1 teaspoon urad dal.

ingredients prepped for upma recipe

2. Heat a pan or kadai first. Add 1 cup rava or cream of wheat (fine variety).

rava added to a frying pan

3. Begin to roast the rava. Stir often while roasting the rava.

roasting rava for upma recipe

4. The rava or sooji grains should become fragrant and start to look dry, separate and crisp. Don’t brown the rava.

rava roasted well

5. Once the rava becomes fragrant and starts to look dry and crisp, switch off the flame and put the roasted rava on a plate and set aside.

roasted rava set aside in a plate

Frying and sautéing

6. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or oil. You could use sunflower oil or peanut oil or safflower oil or any neutral tasting oil.

heating ghee in a frying pan

7. Lower the heat. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds. When you hear the crackling sound of mustard seeds, it means they are getting fried.

mustard seeds added

8. Now add the ½ teaspoon cumin seeds along with 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split bengal gram) and 1 teaspoon urad dal (husked and split black gram).

cumin seeds and lentils added

9. Stirring often fry until the chana dal and urad dal begin to brown a bit.

frying lentils

10. Immediately add 10 to 12 cashews and begin to fry on a low to medium-low heat.

cashews added

11. By the time the cashews get golden the dals should also be golden.

cashews fried till golden

12. Now add the finely chopped onions.

finely chopped onions added

13. Sauté the onions until they soften and become translucent on a low to medium-low heat.

onions have softened

14. Then add the chopped green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. You can also add 1 dried red chilli at this step.

ginger, green chillies and curry leaves added

15. Mix well & sauté for a few seconds.

mixing and sautéing for a few seconds

Boiling water

16. Then add 2.5 cups water to this mixture.

water added

17. Add salt as required. Mix well and check the taste of water. It should be a bit salty but not too much. In case if the salt becomes less in the dish, you can always sprinkle some salt from the top when eating.

salt being added

18. Then add 1 teaspoon sugar. Sugar is optional and you can skip it. We prefer a slight sweet taste in the upma and hence we add it.

sugar being added

19. Stir again. On a medium to high flame, heat the water and let it come to a rolling boiling.

water has come to a rolling boil

Making upma

20. When the water comes to a rolling boil, lower the flame to its lowest. Then add the rava in 4 to 5 batches with a spoon.

adding rava with a spoon

21. Once you add the first batch of rava, stir and mix immediately so that the roasted rava gets mixed evenly with the water.

mixing rava with a spatula

22. Then add the next batch of rava. Mix and stir again very well ensuring that the batch of rava is mixed evenly in water.

second batch of rava added

23. Continue to add and stir the rava up to the last batch.

last batch being of rava being added

24. Quickly stir and mix very well. The rava grains will absorb water, swell and get cooked.

mixing everything very well

25. Cover and allow the rava upma to steam for 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat.

pan covered with glass lid for steaming the upma

26. Then switch off the heat. In the below photo, the rava is cooked well and the upma is ready.

upma done and cooked well

27. Lastly add about 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro). You can add more coriander leaves if you like.

coriander leaves added on rava upma

28. Mix again.

coriander leaves mixed with upma

30. Serve upma hot with slices of lemon. I also sprinkle some sev (fried gram flour vermicelli) on upma while serving. Though this is not the way upma is traditionally served, the folks at home prefer this Mumbai style. You can also serve it with coconut chutney or lemon pickle or idli podi.

rava upma garnished with cilantro, fried gram flour vermicelli and a lemon wedge served in a dark green blue rimmed plate on a dark blue wooden board
Tips

Expert tips

  • Roasting rava: For an even roasting or toasting of rava, you need to stir rava often on a low or medium-low heat of the pan. See for signs of color change and the rava granules looking separate, crisp with a nice toasted aroma.
  • Adding rava in batches: Always add rava to the hot water in batches. After adding each batch mix the rava evenly with the water. This ensures that your upma will turn smooth and soft.
  • Fats: Upma can be made with both ghee (clarified butter) or oil. With ghee the upma tastes better though. You can even drizzle a bit of ghee when serving upma. I also on occasions make upma with coconut oil. You can use oils like sunflower oil or safflower oil or peanut oil or any neutral tasting oil.
  • Rava and water proportion: For a softer rava upma, you can use the proportion of 1:2.5 or 3 for rava and water respectively. Which means that for 1 cup of fine rava you can add 2.5 to 3 cups water.
  • Variations: There are a few variations, you can make like tomato upma or vegetable upma or even ragi rava upma. I have listed them in the FAQs section below.
  • Serving suggestions: Upma is best served hot or warm. Like me, you can top it up with some sev or bhujia with a drizzle of lemon juice. You can even serve upma with coconut chutney or lemon pickle or idli podi.
  • Scaling and storing: You can easily halve or double this recipe. Leftover upma can be refrigerated for a couple of days. You can even freeze it. While reheating, sprinkle some water and reheat the upma in a pan.

FAQs

What is rava?

Rava is coarsely ground wheat to a fine or semi-fine texture. It is not floury but has a fine grainy texture. Rava is also called cream of wheat or farina or semolina flour in English.

I have access to plenty of rava varieties like Kesari rava, Idli rava, Bombay rava etc. Which one should I choose for making upma?

Use Kesari rava or Bombay rava as they are a fine variety of rava. Idli rava is used for making idli.

How to make ragi rava upma?

Roast both the rava and ragi flour separately. Follow this recipe. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the rava and ragi. Depending on the amount of ragi and rava added you will need to increase the water quantity. Do roast ragi really well as undercooked ragi can cause stomach aches.

Can I add vegetables?

Yes, you can. Check the method I have listed in the below question.

How to make vegetable upma?

Either steam the vegetables separately and then add once the rava is mixed with the water. Or after sautéing onions, add the veggies (grated carrots, green peas, grated potatoes, finely chopped french beans, chopped capsicum) and sauté until lightly golden. Add water and follow the recipe. You can garnish upma with grated coconut.

Can I add tomatoes?

You can add tomatoes. Add them when the onions soften. Then sauté until the tomatoes soften. 

Can I add peanuts?

Yes, you can add peanuts. Fry or roast the peanuts separately and then add as a topping or garnish on the upma.

Can I skip green chillies?

Yes, you can. Some crushed black pepper can be added in place of green chillies. 

Why my upma has become lumpy?

Upma becomes lumpy when the rava is not mixed very well with the water. So add rava in batches and mix each batch of rava evenly in the water. Remember to use fine rava for this recipe. If you use a coarser rava, you will have to add more water so that the upma does not become lumpy. 

Why my upma is sticky?

Rava has to be roasted very well. If the rava is not roasted properly the upma will become sticky. 

What is urad dal and chana dal and what are their english names?

Chana dal is called Bengal gram in English. These are black chickpea lentils. Urad dal are called as black lentils or white lentils. They are shaped like mung beans except that the husk is black in color and the lentils are in white color. The other name for it is vigna mungo or black matpe beans.

More Tasty Upma Varieties

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upma garnished with cilantro and a lemon wedge served in a dark green blue rimmed plate on a dark blue wooden board

Upma Recipe | Rava Upma

4.85 from 124 votes
Upma is a savory South Indian breakfast dish made with cream of wheat (sooji or rava). It is also known as Rava upma. This upma recipe makes for a really flavorful and tasty breakfast.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Diet: Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

For roasting rava

  • 1 cup rava – finer variety (sooji or cream of wheat or semolina)

Other ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (split and husked bengal gram)
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (split and husked black gram)
  • 10 to 12 cashews – optional
  • cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilli or 1 green chilli
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger or 1 inch ginger
  • 1 sprig curry leaves or 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 2.5 cups water
  • salt as required
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar or add as required – optional
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

Instructions

Preparation

  • Finely chop 1 medium sized onion, 1 to 2 green chillies and 1 inch ginger and some coriander leaves. 
  • Also set aside the remaining ingredients.

Roasting rava

  • Heat a pan or kadai first. Add rava or cream of wheat.
  • Begin to roast the rava. Stir often while roasting the rava.
  • The rava or sooji grains should become fragrant and start to look dry, separate and crisp. Don’t brown the rava.
  • Switch off the flame and then add the roasted rava in a plate and keep aside.

Frying and sautéing

  • In a pan, heat ghee or oil. add the mustard seeds.
  • When you hear the crackling sound of mustard seeds, it means they are getting fried.
  • Now add the cumin seeds along with chana dal and urad dal.
  • Fry till they begin to brown a bit or get lightly golden
  • Immediately add cashews and begin to fry. By the time, the cashews get golden the lentils will also get golden.
  • Now add the finely chopped onions. Saute the onions till they become translucent.
  • Then add the chopped green chilly, ginger, curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds. You can also add 1 dried red chilli at this step.

Boiling water

  • Then add 2.5 cups water, sugar and salt as required. Mix well and check the taste of water. It should be a bit salty but not too much.
  • Sugar is optional and you can skip it.
  • On a medium to high flame, heat the water and let it come to a rolling boiling.

Making upma

  • When the water comes to a rolling boil, lower the flame to its lowest. Then add the rava in 4 to 5 batches with a spoon.
  • Once you add the rava, mix and stir immediately. The entire batch of rava should get mixed with the water evenly. Then add the next batch of roasted rava. Mix and stir again.
  • This way keep on adding and stirring the rava up to the last batch.
  • Quickly stir and mix well. The rava grains absorb water and thus swell and get cooked.
  • Cover and allow the rava upma to steam for 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat.
  • Then switch off the flame. Here the rava is cooked and the upma is ready.
  • Lastly add chopped coriander leaves. Mix again.
  • Serve upma with coconut chutney or lime slices or lime pickle.

Video

Notes

  • Roasting rava: The rava has to be roasted evenly. For this you need to stir rava often on a low or medium-low heat of the pan. See for the signs of the color change and the rava granules looking separate, crisp with a nice toasted aroma. 
  • Adding rava in batches: Always add rava to the hot water in batches. After adding each batch mix the rava evenly with the water. This will make sure that your upma will turn smooth and soft.
  • Avoiding lumpy and sticky upma: To avoid lumps add rava in batches and mix each batch of rava very well with the water. Remember to use fine rava for this recipe. If you use a coarser rava, you will have to add more water so that it does not become lumpy. If the rava is not roasted properly the upma will become sticky. 
  • Oil or ghee: You can easily make upma with either oil or ghee. With ghee the upma tastes better though. You can even drizzle a bit of ghee when serving upma.
  • Rava and water proportion: For a softer rava upma, you can use the proportion of 1:2.5 or 3 for rava and water respectively. Which means that for 1 cup of fine rava you can add 2.5 to 3 cups water.
  • Serving suggestions: Upma is best served hot or warm. You can top it up with some sev or bhujia with a drizzle of lemon juice. You can even serve upma with coconut chutney or lemon pickle or idli podi.
  • Scaling and storing: You can easily halve or double this recipe. Leftover upma can be refrigerated for a couple of days. You can even freeze it. While reheating, sprinkle some water and reheat the upma in a pan or microwave. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Upma Recipe | Rava Upma
Amount Per Serving
Calories 360 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 523mg23%
Potassium 175mg5%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 43IU1%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 16mg80%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 3µg3%
Calcium 425mg43%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 157µg39%
Iron 20mg111%
Magnesium 50mg13%
Phosphorus 194mg19%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This recipe post from the archives (August 2009) has been republished and updated on 6 October 2020.

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Dassana Amit

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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