quinoa upma

Quinoa Upma Recipe (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

By Swasthi on August 27, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Quinoa Upma is a South Indian Upma variety made with quinoa, tempering spices, curry leaves, mixed vegetables and cashew nuts (optional). While upma is traditionally made with semolina also known as rava, this Quinoa Upma is made healthier & gluten-free with the use of quinoa seeds. It makes a complete meal when accompanied with a side of yogurt, pickle or podi.

quinoa upma recipe

Quinoa is a health food and is technically a seed but used much like a grain in a lot of meal preps and many other dishes. It is one of those grains that has no relation to the Indian Cuisine.

But Indian food enthusiasts have started to incorporate these tiny little seeds in numerous traditional dishes like I did in this Quinoa Upma.

If you are new to quinoa, here is a little about this super food and why it should be included in your diet.

About Quinoa

Quinoa pronounced as “KEEN-wah”, is a gluten-free seed with high concentrations of protein and is a good source of iron, folate, magnesium and zinc. Its popularity comes from 3 main reasons:

  • It is easy to grow quinoa in tough weather conditions
  • It is easy and fast to cook
  • Quinoa is one of the few plant-based sources of Complete Protein.

Complete proteins are made of all nine essential amino acids. Though animal-based products, like meat & dairy contain all nine amino acids, plant-based sources, like beans, often lack several of the amino acids.

So must be combined with other foods to form a complete protein. But quinoa is one of the sources of complete protein.

Once cooked you can see little curly tails/sprouts that come out which are actually the plant’s endosperm. With a little crunch, nutty aroma and chewy texture, these are delicious if cooked right.

This Quinoa Upma is a one pot dish and can be made in a regular pot on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot. In this post I share how to make it both ways on the stovetop and in the instant pot. I also have a few variations and tips below above the recipe card.

More Breakfast Recipes
Quinoa Fried Rice
Quinoa Pulao
Instant Pot Quinoa
Oats Upma
Rava Idli

How to Make Quinoa Upma (Stepwise Photos)


1. Prepare the following veggies:

  • 1 sprig curry leaves (leave out if you don’t have)
  • ¼ cup (1 small) onion sliced (optional)
  • ½ cup (1 medium) carrot peeled & chopped
  • ¼ cup (4 to 5) green beans chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup green peas (I use frozen)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger peeled & chopped finely
  • 1 to 2 green chili chopped or slit (leave out for kids or fry them separately)
veggies to make quinoa upma

2. These are the ingredients used to temper & season the quinoa upma.

  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon channa dal (or use red lentils, optional)
  • ½ teaspoon urad dal (optional)
  • 1 pinch hing or asafoetida (optional, I don’t use)
  • 12 to 15 cashews split or broken
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional, for color)
tempering spices nuts and lentils

3. Add quinoa to a bowl and pour water. Rub them well with your fingers to get rid of the bitter tasting saponins. Drain the water completely & rinse at least thrice. Later drain to a strainer to get rid of the excess water. Gently shake the strainer to drain the water completely.

rinse quinoa for upma

Make Quinoa Upma

4. Pour 1½ tablespoons oil or ghee to the steel insert of the instant pot or to a hot pan placed on the stovetop, on a low to medium heat.

heat ghee or oil for quinoa upma

5. Press the saute button on the IP. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, urad dal and cashews. Fry them until light golden.

fry the spices, nuts and lentils

6. Stir in curry leaves, ginger, green chilies and hing (optional).

saute ginger curry leaves and chilies

7. Add sliced onions and saute until transparent for a minute or 2.

saute onions to make quinoa upma

8. Stir in the vegetables and saute for a minute.

saute veggies in the instant pot

9. Add turmeric and salt.

add salt and turmeric to make quinoa upma

10. Add the drained quinoa.

add drained quinoa

11. If using Instant pot, pour 1¼ cups water & mix well to release any bits of food stuck at the bottom.

Stovetop: If making it in a pot/ pan on the stovetop, Pour 2 cups hot water and bring it to a rolling boil on a high heat. Cook uncovered on a medium heat, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. For the stepwise photos you may scroll down.

pour water to cook quinoa upma

11. Cover with the lid. Press cancel and pressure cook for 2 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally for 8 minutes and then release the rest manually.

cover the instant pot

12. Taste test the quinoa upma and add more salt if you want.

cooked quinoa in the instant pot

13. Let cool down for a few minutes and pour the lemon juice as required. Gently mix. Do not stir a lot when the quinoa is very hot.

add lemon juice to quinoa upma

Serve quinoa upma hot with pickle, podi or yogurt.

Quinoa upma recipe made in Indian style

Stovetop Quinoa Upma

Make sure you use 2 cups hot water and bring it to a rolling boil on a high heat. Reduce and cook on a medium heat. I did not use turmeric here so the color is different.

Cook on a medium flame till the quinoa is cooked completely. Keep stirring to a few times. They look transparent when cooked well. If there is extra water left in the pan, evaporate by cooking a little longer.

Serve quinoa upma with plain yogurt or pickle. Squeeze in some lemon juice before serving.

Serve quinoa upma with podi, pickle or curd. It goes good even in lunch box or as a breakfast or quick dinner.

Pro Tips

  • Ratio: Quinoa to water ratio is the key for a fluffy quinoa upma. A lot of times I cook quinoa in an open pot (uncovered) with 1 part of quinoa and 2 parts of water. This gives me good results without making it mushy.
  • Instant Pot Ratio: For every cup of quinoa you will need 1¼ cups water.
  • Instant Pot cook time: I lately realized that new IPs take just 0 to 1 minutes to cook quinoa fully but due to usage as it becomes old, it requires more time. I now cook for 2 to 3 minutes. So adjust the cook time depending on how old or new your IP is.
  • Rinsing: If using regular kind of quinoa rinse-rub-rinse very well at least thrice to get rid of the saponins, bitter tasting toxic compounds. I prefer to rinse even the pre-rinsed quinoa store bought seeds.


  • Most often I use carrots, peas & beans to make this. However you can skip the veggies and just make it plain with the tempering ingredients & onions. Sometimes I make with just the tri – carrots, peas and beans and leave out the onions. Both taste different.
  • Feel free to spice up your quinoa upma with some Indian spice powder. Sometimes I add ¾ teaspoon of Vangi bath powder, Bisi bele bath powder or store bought Sambar powder to this quinoa upma. It turns out very delicious with the flavors of Khara bath.
  • I have not used tomato in this. But sometimes I do use a tiny deseeded tomato. I saute it very well until the raw smell of the tomato goes away. Then add the veggies.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

quinoa upma recipe

Quinoa Upma Recipe (Instant Pot and Stovetop)

Quinoa upma is a simple healthy & filling Indian style breakfast made with quinoa, mixed veggies & spices. Instructions included for instant pot and stovetop.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings2 to 3

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ⅓ cup (1 small) onion sliced (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger chopped finely
  • 1 to 2 green chili chopped or slit
  • teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 small lemon (to serve)

Mixed Vegetables (¾ to 1 cup)

  • ½ cup (1 medium) carrot chopped
  • ¼ cup (4 to 5) green beans chopped
  • ¼ cup green peas

Water (use any one)

  • cups water to cook in Instant Pot
  • 2 cups water to cook on stovetop in a pot

To Temper

  • 1½ to 2 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon channa dal (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon urad dal (optional)
  • 1 pinch hing or asafoetida (optional)
  • 12 to 15 cashews split or broken



  • Add quinoa to a bowl or strainer and pour water. Rub them very well and discard the water. Rinse them at least thrice and drain in the strainer. shake off gently to get rid of the excess water.
  • Rinse and chop the ginger, carrots, beans and onion (optional). Slit the green chili.

Instant pot Quinoa Upma

  • Press saute button and pour oil to the steel insert of the Instant pot.
  • When the oil turns slightly hot, add mustard, cumin, chana dal, urad dal and cashews.
  • Fry them until slightly golden. Then stir in curry leaves, ginger and green chili.
  • Stir in the onions & saute until transparent. Add the vegetables and saute for a minute.
  • Add turmeric, salt, quinoa and water.
  • Press CANCEL button. Secure the lid of the instant pot. Position the steam release handle to sealing. Press PRESSURE COOK button & Set the timer to 2 minutes.
  • It takes time for the pot to build up pressure and cook. Once the pressure builds up, it cooks for 2 minutes. When it is done cooking the Ip beeps and goes to keep warm, press cancel. Wait for the pressure to release naturally for at least 8 mins. You may release the rest manually.
  • Open the lid and fluff up the quinoa upma. Sprinkle some lemon juice and serve hot.

How to make Quinoa Upma on Stovetop

  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal and urad dal. Fry them for a minute and add the cashews.
  • Fry them until light golden and add curry leaves, green chilies and ginger. Stir fry for a minute until aromatic and add the onions. Saute for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in mixed veggies & saute for a minute. Add salt, turmeric and quinoa. Pour water and mix well.
  • Cook uncovered on a medium flame until quinoa turns tender and absorbs all the water. Cover and Turn off the heat. Let rest for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Fluff up the quinoa. Mix and taste test to adjust salt. Squeeze lemon juice before serving quinoa upma.


I use pre-rinsed quinoa but still prefer to rinse them at least thrice. However you can also skip rinsing and use the pre-rinsed quinoa directly.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.


Watch Instant Pot Quinoa Upma Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Quinoa Upma Recipe (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 376 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 0.03g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Sodium 321mg14%
Potassium 593mg17%
Carbohydrates 54g18%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 292IU6%
Vitamin C 44mg53%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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© Swasthi’s Recipes

This recipe was first published in May 2015. Updated with new photos.

Quinoa Upma Recipe (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
I have never cooked anything with quinoa before. Have been trying out your recipes with quinoa. Love this quinoa upma. Please share a quinoa and chicken recipe. TIA

5 stars
I absolutely love your site!

5 stars
Hi Swasthi,
Does this site has an app .would love to install

5 stars
I made this quinoa. Tasted pretty good with your cucumber Arita

5 stars
Wow, beautiful recipes, I love pumas, I could never forget the taste of Kerala style upmas, thanks for sharing this recipe, Swathi.

5 stars
New easy recipes
Liked it
Thank you

Hi Swasthi,

I thought of trying quinoa for very long time and finally I bought half kg Quinoa from amazon India and was googling online and came across your website.
Your simple and easy instructions helped me come up with yummy upma and I enjoyed the taste of it.

Thank you and keep posting.

5 stars
Good recipe and simple instructions helped to make a yummy upma. Had it for dinner with pickle and curd.

A traditional healthy breakfast. Done perfectly. Nice to see such a wonderful dish.

looks yumm… I love these healthy upma varieties….