South-Indian breakfast: Sooji Upma (Healthy, savory semolina porridge)

Upma has been a regular breakfast item in my home, throughout my childhood. It is quick to make, delicious and nutritious, all at the same time.

Sooji upma is everyone’s comfort breakfast food. It is best served with hot tea or a cup of filter coffee. Give this recipe a go and enjoy!


-1/2 cup semolina (Sooji/Rava)

-2 tablespoons ghee/oil

-1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds (rai)

-1 tomato, chopped

-2 cups water

-4-5 curry leaves

-2 slit green chillies

-1 chopped onion (optional)

-1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

-Some chopped coriander

-Salt as per taste


-In a pan, roast the semolina carefully, without oil, on low heat till it evenly changes color to light brown. It will start smelling fragrant and roasted too. Shift to a plate and keep aside.

-In a pot, take 2 cups of water and add chopped tomato in it. Bring to boil and then keep to simmer.

-In the first pan (in which you roasted sooji), take the ghee/oil. Once it gets hot, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies. Fry for a few seconds.

-Add your chopped onion and fry till it changes it color to translucent.

-Add the roasted semolina and mix with the tempering.

-Carefully add your simmering water with tomatoes and keep stirring. Note that you do this on medium-low heat. When you add the water, the mixture will bubble and splatter. Be careful as to not let it burn your skin.

-Add the whole water with the tomatoes. Keep stirring and add the salt at this point.

-Stir and cook till the upma thickens. Don’t wait for the whole water to evaporate before switching off the flame. The upma tends to thicken after you switch off the gas so leave it a bit moist so that it reaches its proper consistency by the time you are ready to serve it.

-Squeeze in the lemon juice, mix well and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

-Serve hot with sprinkled sev (deep fried gram noodles) and tea! Enjoy!


-Roast a large quantity of upma and store easily in an air-tight container for many weeks. This way, you hardly take any time to make an instant serving of upma. I always roast the sooji beforehand and keep it handy for those early weekday mornings.

-I swear by the ratio on 1:4 for semolina and water. It never fails!

-You can add par-boiled veggies like carrots, beans, peas and capsicum to upma. You can also add roasted peanuts, cashews, roasted chana dal or anything that you like, to make different variations of this easy dish.

-Even if you are using oil to make upma for health reasons, make sure to add a little ghee to it. It enhances the overall flavor very well.



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