Urvashee Patel | Dessarts Updated

Warm and creamy Upma is a tasty Indian quick dish that is great comfort food anytime. We love it especially for a savory breakfast.

Semolina Upma Photo

Upma is a tasty hot breakfast dish originally from South India but is now popular all over. It’s a semolina based porridge-like dish that is salty and lightly spiced. Although originally a breakfast dish, it is also served for brunch, lunch or just snacking. I’ll admit I’ve even made it for dinner when I’ve been in a hurry to whip up something fast.

Growing up, my mom probably made us eat it hundreds of times for lunch. I never thought much of it until I had to feed my own kid. Like most things involving the art of parenting, I get it now. It’s fast, easy, filling, and goes down quick because it’s so warm and creamy. I quickly realized this was a great meal for a toddler who would otherwise take hours to eat his meal. Oh, and I got to sneak in a little bit of that despised yogurt that he always rejected. Although he’s a little older now, it’s still a go to lunch item, especially on these cold winter days.

Semolina Upma Picture

There are many variations to making upma. I like to keep mine simple so there are fewer complaints. You can add whatever vegetables you want to them. I prefer to use peas and carrots because I always have them on hand and they are not objectionable to anyone. Don’t be scared of the other ingredients on the list! All of it can be found at your local Indian grocer, and if you don’t have one of those, try calling up an Indian friend and borrow some. You can also skip those ingredients too and still have a flavorful dish. If you can’t find semolina, Cream of Wheat works just as well and is easily available.

Semolina Upma Image

The trick to making good upma is keeping it soft. This took me some practice but I think I have it down now. Basically, you have to work quickly, stir, and add a generous amount of yogurt at the end. The yogurt works to keep it soft and adds a nice bit of sourness too. This is not a dish that does well as leftovers and is best served immediately. But it’s so fast to make that you won’t ever need to make it in advance!

We love Urvashee's Indian meals. Have you seen her Mumbai Sandwich? And don't miss her Mini Indian Samosas too!

Semolina Upma Recipe

    2 Servings


  • 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Indian Mustard Seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Urad Dal
  • 4-5 Curry Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Carrot, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Green Peas
  • 1/2 cup Fine Semolina
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Plain Yogurt
  • roasted cashews Cashew Nuts, fried, for optional garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal. Once the seeds start to pop, add the curry leaves.
  2. Quickly add the onions and stir to let the onions soften. Add the carrots and peas and stir for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the semolina and 1 1/2 cups of water and salt. Stir as it thickens keeping the heat to medium. This should only take a minute.
  4. Once it is getting thicker, stir in the yogurt and remove from the heat.
  5. Garnish with cashews and serve immediately.


  • Urad dal is a specific type of black lentil without skin that you can find in Indian groceries. If you can’t find them, it’s okay to skip it. It adds a slight crunch but not much flavor.
  • If you don’t have the mustard seeds or curry leaves, you can omit them too, especially if you are making this for a toddler.


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Urvashee Patel

About Urvashee

Urvashee blogs about delectable desserts on her blog, Dessarts. Lucky for us, she's sharing her delectable vegetarian dishes too as a Vegetarian Fanatic.