Upma is a popular South Indian breakfast dish.  It is essentially a savory porridge, traditionally made with semolina. It is very difficult for me to find semolina where I’m currently living and I’m sure  it can be quite a challenge for others who aren’t lucky enough to have a great Italian market nearby. To solve this predicament I chose to make my upma with cornmeal, which is much more readily available all over the world. The result was delicious as I found the toasted cornmeal added a nutty sweetness to the dish that is incredibly satisfying.

Most of the spices needed for this recipe can be found in a gourmet or Indian grocery. They are worth investing in as they are the foundation flavors for many curries.

Cornmeal Upma
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 long green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 – 3 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (your favorite)
  • 1 inch long piece of ginger, minced
  • few springs of curry leaves (optional) **
  1. In a dry heavy bottomed pan or wok toast the cornmeal over medium heat. Stir constantly as it can easily burn. Once toasted, put on a plate to cool off while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. You're going to want all your ingredients prepped and ready to go because this is a quick cooking process. Heat a few tablespoons of a neutral oil in the same pan over medium high heat. Just before oil hits smoking point add mustard seeds, curry leaves, fennel seeds, and ginger. Stir rapidly for 15 seconds then add cumin and curry powder (you might want your extractor fan on as the fumes are potent).
  3. Allow flavor base to fry for another 15-20 seconds before adding onion, pepper and chili. Stir-fry this mixture until vegetables soften; about 4 minutes.
  4. Add a half a cup of water and stir vigorously to pick up all the flavors around the pan. Add the cornmeal and equal parts water. Cover and quickly simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Upma is done when it has a porridge-like consistency. Salt to taste and enjoy.
**If you come across curry leaves, buy a bunch. They freeze well and come in handy when making curries**


Cornmeal Upma

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: