Rava Upma – Quick & Tasty Tiffin

Rava Upma – Quick & Tasty Tiffin

rava upmaUpma is a much maligned, under-rated dish among south-indian tiffins. Upma is quick, easy and tasty and needs very few ingredients. When you’ve run out of idli/dosa batter and you don’t have anything handy or you just don’t feel like taking all the effort, you make upma. So when all else fails, there’s upma, like Mamooty says in “Azhagan”.
There are people who hate upma and there are people like me who enjoy a good upma. In many households, upma is never made. I think the upma haters are driven by the general image of upma being too plain and because they never have it. These kinds of tendencies build on themselves. You don’t like it, so you don’t have it and you continue to not like it which is why you don’t have it. Like the brinjal haters/okra haters…

Generally in our house, upma is made in its own right as a tiffin and not just as a substitute. It is a good kid-friendly uni-age dish that you can serve toddlers as well , my son  with just around 4 and a half teeth (broke a tooth in half recently) quite enjoys his uppalam (thats what he calls it). My sister is an upma lover and my mom is therefore quite an expert upma maker (no that’s not the newest kitchen gadget, it’s just my mom). Now upma isn’t that difficult, but even the simplest dishes can go horribly wrong and I usually manage to test all possible bugs. So I know that even upma can go wrong. The key to a good upma lies in roasting the rava and using the right amount of water. Upma can be served as is or with chutney.

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4-5


Bombay rava/Fine sooji/Fine Semolina – 2 cups
Onion – 1 large chopped fine
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Split urad dal/Black gram – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 stem
Dry red chillies – 2-3 broken into halves
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Water – 4 cups
Fried Cashewnuts – for garnish (optional)
Coriander leaves – for garnish


1.      Dry roast the rava in a kadai/skillet till heated through and remove just before it starts to brown. Set aside the roasted rava.

2.      In the same kadai, heat 2 tsp oil and when hot, add mustard seeds. When the mustard starts spluttering, add curry leaves, urad dal and the dried red chillies on low heat and stir around. When the urad dal turns light brown, add the chopped onion and fry till translucent.

3.      Pour in 4 cups water, add salt, taste and adjust. When the water comes to a boil, tip in the rava and mix well to break up lumps.

4.      Cook covered on low for 5 to 10 minutes. Open and stir once or twice during this time to avoid lumps. Once cooked, drizzle ghee all around the sides of the kadai and mix well. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and cashew nuts and serve hot with chutney.


1.      Measure out the water and rava exactly. I’ve tried at times to act like a seasoned pro and just judge by hand, but that can go wrong at times.

2.      Less water is always better as you can always add in a little extra boiling water later on in case you feel the rava is under-cooked. With this 1:2 (rava:water) ratio, you won’t go wrong though.

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