Upma or rulav is a breakfast dish prepared mostly in the Southern parts of India. Its nothing but a mixture of spicy seasonings and semolina (cream of wheat). Growing up, I was not a big fan of rulav or upma. Mom used to make the plain rulav and the vegetable one. Plain rulav, I felt was too bland and the vegetable rulav, I felt was too gingery as Mom would add ginger to it and I was not a big fan of ginger (and I am still not one)! I do remember my brother eating the plain rulav with loads of sugar on top. It looked like he was eating sugar with rulav topping instead of the other way round. My thirteen year old daughter eats plain rulav to this day with sugar and like her uncle, its sugar with rulav topping. Traditionally, they are served with plain sev (savory crunchy noodle pieces made out of chickpea flour and other spices). Rajesh likes to eat his rulav with sev or with chudva or chuda (a spicy mixture of various fried items like rice flakes, puffed rice, beaten rice, peanuts, sev, etc). My brother-in-law eats his rulav with a spicy mango pickle… each to his own, I guess! Given a choice, I would rather eat the vegetable upma than the plain one.
- Sooji (semolina or cream of wheat) - 1 cup
- Mixed vegetables (carrots, french beans and green peas) - 1 cup
- Onions - 2, medium sized, chopped fine
- Tomatoes - 1, chopped fine
- Green chillies - 3, chopped fine
- Oil - 3 tbsp
- Ghee - 2 tbsp (optional)
- Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Curry leaves - 1 sprig
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (more or less depending on your taste)
- Garam masala powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
- Water - 2 cups
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Put the diced carrots and french beans in a small pan, also put in the green peas and add water (just enough water to cover the vegetables) and bring it to a boil. Do not overcook the vegetables. (I used the microwave and cooked my vegetables for exactly 3 minutes). Drain the liquid from the cooked vegetables and set aside (the liquid will be used while cooking the semolina).
Heat oil in a large pan. Season with mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, put in the chopped onions, green chillies and curry leaves. Fry till the onions are translucent.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till pulpy. Put in the turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Fry for a minute or so. Add the semi cooked vegetables to this mixture and mix well. Let it cook for a minute or so and then add the semolina or the cream of wheat.
At this time, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil separately in another stockpot or if you are using a microwave oven like I did, in a microwave safe bowl.
Keep frying the semolina on low to medium flame till it is toasty, not brown. When almost done and just before you add the boiling water, put in salt to taste, mix well and then add the water. Also add the water that you drained from the vegetables. Keep mixing so that lumps don't form. As you add water to the semolina and you start mixing it, it tends to splatter all over. To avoid getting hot stuff on my hands, I usually remove my pan from the heat so that I can mix it well and immediately put it back on the stove. At this point, if you want you can add the garam masala powder and the ghee. Cover and cook till all the water has been absorbed and the whole mixture has come together or coagulated together.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
It can be served plain or with sev or with chuda or with a spicy pickle or with coconut chutney or with sambar.
- I know people who roast the semolina prior to making the dish. You can make it that way too. My mom normally does it after she’s added the vegetables and I am following it too as I find it more convenient. Then there are people who do not roast the semolina at all. You can go that route too, it all upto you!
- More water can be added if you want a slightly softer Upma. If you want a slightly grainier version, go low on the water level.