Upma is made from semolina and we’ll take it over rice any day.

It’s ready in 5 mins with no chopping, so flavourful and much lighter than rice – and veegs!

The effort in this wonderful side dish, in these more western parts at least, is sourcing the ingredients.

According to my dear friend who bought this recipe back with her from a friend in South India, it has to be extra course semolina, and one must, but must, use fresh curry leaves at all times – dried will not do. And you can’t omit the urad dhal either. All very well in South India, can be a bit of a mish to find these things here. We’re lucky to live in hackers. They’re not available all the time but when I see them I grab them up – and then I make this. Psst, don’t tell her but I’ve used dried leaves more than once and the pan didn’t explode! And nor did it impair the flavour, in my book.

Hopefully you’ll be able to find the extra course semolina and urad dhal (the white interior of the split urad bean) at a Turkish food shop, we’ve also had decent results with just plain old course semolina if you can’t get yer hands on any of the good stuff!

Don’t let this deter you, it’s worth it, utterly.

5 mins | serves 4 | so easy 



2 tbsp veg oil 
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp black cumin seeds, ordinary will do 
2 red chillies, whole
little pile of fresh curry leaves
1 tsp urad dhal 
1 tsp ground ginger 
1 tsp turmeric 
1 cup extra course semolina 
1 cup hot veg stock
1 tsp brown sugar 
sea salt flakes 
handful grated coconut – fresh best, dried absolutely fine 
big handful coriander, chopped 
1/2 lime, juice 


Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds then the cumin and let them splutter for a moment before adding the whole chillies. Add the urad dhal and the curry leaves, stir and cook until the dhal starts to go darker. At that point add the turmeric and ginger and give it all a good stir about.

Add the semolina to the pan and mix it up well. Dissolve the sugar and salt in your cup of hot stock and add that into the pan and turn the heat down to low.

Now, in one way or another, it’s going to look like a disaster at this point. It is highly likely to form a fairly solid block even, but panic not, keep stirring and breaking it up and a lighter texture will suddenly emerge. What’s equally as likely is a gloppy mixture that looks as though it will never dry out but it’s amazing how quickly this dish comes together in front of your eyes!

Chuck in the coconut and stir through, then give it a squeeze of lime juice and top with coriander and a little sprinkle of coconut just before you serve it.

Truly delish.


Recipe is received with hugest thanks from Shalan Sirur from Pune in Maharashtra.

First posted on 17 February 2017. Updated 16 August 2018.

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