Upma Recipe, How to Make Rava Upma
Upma Recipe with simple step-by-step instructions & new video for beginners. Also known as Rava Upma, this is an easiest Indian Breakfast made with semolina, whole tempering spices, curry leaves and nuts. It is a staple & an everyday instant food made in South Indian homes, restaurants and tiffin centers. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced cook, this recipe will help you make the best Upma at home.
A well-made Upma is delicious, non-sticky & fluffy with bursting flavors of ginger, curry leaves, green chilies, mustard, cumin seeds and roasted lentils. Making this delicious dish is no rocket science & is the simplest you can whip up under 20 minutes.
If you are new to Indian cuisine and wondering what is Upma?
About Rava Upma
Upma is a traditional South Indian breakfast dish made by simmering roasted rava in tempered & spiced boiling water. Rava is the South Indian word for ‘semolina’ so it is also known as Rava Upma.
Traditionally it is made with coarse ground rice or wheat but these days we also make it with many other ingredients like oats, vermicelli, poha, bread, quinoa etc.
This upma recipe follows the traditional method of making it where semolina is dry roasted until crunchy. Next a tempering is made with basic spices, chana dal, urad dal and curry leaves.
Onions are sautéed in the tempering & then the right amount of water it poured to make the spiced mixture. Lastly roasted rava is incorporated in a slow stream into the boiling water. This way the cooked upma turns out soft and smooth without lumps.
Peanuts, cashews, mixed vegetables, ghee etc are also optionally used to enhance the taste of the rava upma. Vegetables like carrots, peas and beans can also be used to up the nutrition profile of the dish.
Upma is usually eaten with peanut podi, idli podi, coconut chutney or even with pickle. Most people serve it to kids with a dash of sugar & ghee on top to mellow down the heat from the chilies.
More Upma Varieties on the blog
Choosing good quality rava is very important to make good upma. It is very easily available in the Indian stores. Making rava upma is a breeze if you have the pre-roasted rava handy. Since it is already roasted, the cook time of your dish will reduce. Here are choices you have when you buy the rava:
Double Roasted Rava: DRR has a better shelf life and flavor than the regular rava. It is pre-roasted for you at the manufacturer’s end so you can use it directly in the recipe. This makes for a fluffy and non-sticky upma. I haven’t found organic double roasted rava in the stores any time so mostly it is a regular one.
Single Roast Rava (roasted rava) : This kind of rava is roasted lightly and most times don’t make the best upma. I prefer to roast the single roasted rava again as it does not give me the desired results like the double roasted. You can also find organic roasted rava and that’s mostly single roasted.
Unroasted Rava: As the name says it is just semolina that is not roasted and you need to do it. Most organic rava available in the market is unroasted. This is what I have used in this post.
I usually roast the whole pack of semolina when I cut open it. Cool it completely and store in a clean air tight jar. This cuts down your roasting time whenever you want to make upma. Plus this step keeps your semolina fresh for longer.
How to make Upma (Stepwise Photos)
1. Clean 1 cup semolina (Bombay rava). Add it to a pan and roast on a low to medium heat until it turns crunchy. Keep stirring to prevent discoloring. We don’t want the rava to brown. If you are using double roasted semolina, then roasting takes only a minute. When it is crunchy set aside to cool.
2. While you roast the rava, prepare the following:
- 1 small onion (slice or fine chop)
- ½ inch ginger (½ to ¾ teaspoon fine chopped)
- 1 to 2 green chilies (chopped or sliced)
- 1 sprig curry leaves (rinse and pat dry to avoid splatters)
- If you like to add vegetables you may add ¼ cup green peas, ¼ cup fine chopped carrots and 2 French beans. Ensure they are fine chopped else they won’t cook well.
3. To temper you will need
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (Jeera, optional)
- 1 teaspoon urad dal (skinned black gram whole or split)
- 1½ teaspoon chana dal (bengal gram)
- 2 tablespoons peanuts (optional – raw or roasted)
- 8 to 12 whole cashews (split them, you may leave out if using peanuts)
4. Using peanuts is optional and may use if you want a crunch in your upma. On a medium heat, fry the raw peanuts in 1 teaspoon oil until deep golden and aromatic but not burnt. Later remove to a plate and set aside to garnish. Skip this step if using roasted peanuts.
5. Pour 2 tablespoons oil to the hot pan. When the oil becomes hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds if using. When the seeds splutter, add urad dal & chana dal.
6. Fry them until light golden for a minute, then add the cashews & fry until the cashews turn golden and the lentils turn light brown.
7. Next goes in 1 pinch hing (optional), chopped green chilies, chopped ginger & 1 sprig curry leaves. Fry for a minute until the ginger turns fragrant & the curry leaves turn crisp.
8. Then add 1 small chopped onion.
9. Saute just for 3 to 4 mins, until the onions turn transparent.
Optional: If using veggies, you can add green peas, carrots & French beans. Cover and cook on a low heat until the veggies turn slightly tender.
Make Rava Upma
10. Pour 2½ cups water and add ½ teaspoon salt. Mix it well and taste the water. The water should be slightly salty. If needed add more salt.
11. Bring the water to a rolling boil on a medium to high flame, then reduce the flame to low heat.
12. Pour the roasted rava in a very slow stream with one hand and constantly stir the water with the other hand. This incorporates the rava well to the water without turning lumpy. (check the video if you are a beginner). Make sure the water is still boiling well while you add the semolina.
13. Stir well and check for any lumps. Break up if any. Be cautious & quick at this moment, as it begins to splash.
14. You will see all of the water is absorbed. Then cover and cook.
15. After 2 to 4 mins, open and stir the rava upma.
16. Lastly add ghee at this stage. This is optional. Switch off and keep the pan covered for about 5 mins.
17. Let the upma cool down a bit. You can add fresh grated coconut if you like. It will still look clumpy while hot.
As it cools down, upma begins to look fluffy. Sprinkle lemon juice while serving. Do not squeeze the lemon when it is very hot. Garnish with fried/roasted peanuts if you want.
Serve upma with peanut podi, flaxseed podi, chutney, pickle, papad or sambar. As the rava upma cools down, it becomes fluffy and won’t be mushy.
Choosing Rava: There are many kinds of rava available in the market, but the most commonly used one to make upma is Bombay rava. This is fine semolina and is also known as granulated wheat. You can also use bansi rava, which is made from a special kind of wheat. It is not as much refined as the regular suji.
To reduce the cook time of the upma, you can buy double roasted suji.
Roasting rava: Roast the rava well on a low to medium heat, stirring constantly until it becomes crunchy. You will begin to get the aroma of roasted rava when it is done. This step will make good, fluffy and non-sticky upma. Also ensure the color of the rava does not change to brown as it alters the flavor of upma.
If the rava is not roasted well, upma becomes sticky due to the starch. You can also preroast the whole pack of rava and store it in a jar for about a month.
Rava & water proportion: This recipe will yield you fluffy upma that is not porridge like or sticky. I know some people who love this like a thick porridge. If you like it that way, you can use about 4 cups of water for 1 cup rava.
Upma when made in small quantity ex- ½ cup rava usually absorbs upto 1½ cups water (1:3). When you make in large quantity, 1 cup and above use 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups water per 1 cup of rava. This gives you non-sticky upma.
Adding rava in a slow stream: I follow the traditional method of pouring rava in a slow stream to the boiling water. Ensure you keep stirring the water constantly in the pot with your right hand while you pour the rava with your other hand. This incorporate the rava well into the water avoiding lumps.
Quantity of oil: Do not reduce the amount of oil mentioned in the recipe. Using a good amount of oil prevents the upma from turning sticky. You may use ghee in place of oil.
Ghee: We usually top hot upma with ghee. You can add as per your preference or even skip it. 1 teaspoon per serving enhances the aroma of your upma.
Lentils: Chana dal and urad dal are the lentils used in this recipe. They impart a nutty aroma to the dish and adds some texture. Chana dal is known as bengal gram and urad dal is skinned and split black lentils.
Rava is the Indian word for semolina. It is simply granulated wheat that is used in a lot of Indian recipes like rava upma, rava dosa and rava idli.
Idli rava cannot be used to make upma since it is made with parboiled rice. To make rava upma use wheat semolina.
Upma becomes sticky if the rava is not roasted well. Also adding rava to water that is not hot enough makes it sticky. Mix rava just until well incorporated into the boiling water. Avoid over mixing as the starch in rava makes it sticky.
Yes! upma is good for weight loss if made with whole grain rava like whole wheat rava, ragi rava or jowar rava. Whole grain semolina is fiber-rich & takes longer to digest. It keeps your hunger pangs away for long hours.
Yes. upma is good for dinner if you include lots of chopped veggies for added nutrition. Also serve it with peanut podi so you also add some protein to your meal.
Rava upma is made with Bombay rava which is a refined food. So enjoy it in moderation. To make your upma healthy, use bansi rava or any whole grain rava.
How to make instant upma mix?
To save some time you can make your own instant upma mix. This premix can be used whenever needed by just cooking it in hot water. Roasting rava is one of the steps that consumes most of the time while making rava. So if you have this premix ready, making upma will only take 6 to 7 mins.
So to make the instant upma mix, skip onions completely & fine chop curry leaves & green chilies.
First make the tempering and add unroasted rava. Roast the rava along with the tempering until it turns crunchy.
Ensure curry leaves have turned dry and completely crisp meaning there is no moisture in the premix. Cool this and store in a clean air tight container for up to 2 weeks at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 months.
Whenever you want to make upma, Bring water to a rolling boil and add salt. Pour this rava upma mix in a slow stream and incorporate it with the hot water. Cover the pan and cook on a lot heat.
How to make masala upma?
As such the traditional upma has no ground masala or tomatoes added to it. But there is a Tiffin center version of making it with ground spices, tomatoes & mixed veggies. It is known as Khara bath.
To make this, a bit of vangi bath or bisi bele bath masala is added to flavor up the rava upma. If you do not have both these spice powders, you can use pav bhaji masala. You may check the recipe of khara bath here.
Is Rava Upma healthy?
Though rava or semolina is made from whole wheat grain, it is a refined food. During the processing or milling, the fibre rich skin from the whole wheat is removed first.
This also removes the nutrient rich germ that is attached to the outer skin. The resulting starch rich part is ground to rawa. Eating upma regularly may not be healthy as it is made from refined food.
Upma Recipe, How to Make Rava Upma
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup semolina (Bombay rava or sooji)
- 2 tablespoons oil or ghee (refer notes)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera, optional, adds aroma)
- 1 teaspoon urad dal
- 1½ teaspoon chana dal (optional, adds nice aroma)
- 2 tablespoons peanuts (optional)
- 8 to 12 cashews (you may leave out if using peanuts)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) (optional)
- 1 small onion (chopped or sliced thinly)
- 2 green chili slit
- ½ inch ginger (½ to ¾ teaspoon very finely chopped)(optional)
- 2½ to 2¾ cups water (refer notes)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ghee (optional)
- lemon juice (optional) for serving
- Add rava to a pan and dry roast on a low to medium heat until crunchy. Keep stirring often for even roasting.
- Do not brown the rava as the flavor of upma changes. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Chop onion, green chilies and ginger. (Optional: To make vegetable upma (1x recipe), you can also use ¼ cup green peas, ¼ cup fine chopped carrots and 2 fine chopped French beans)
How to make Upma
- Optional – If using peanuts, on a medium heat fry them in a teaspoon oil until deep golden and aromatic. Remove to a plate to use later to garnish.
- Pour oil to a hot pan. Next add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal & chana dal. Fry until the dal turns light golden, add cashews.
- Fry them stirring until the dal and cashews turn aromatic & light brown but not burnt.
- Add hing, slit green chilies, chopped ginger and curry leaves. Saute for a minute. Add chopped onions and fry until transparent.
- Optional: To make vegetable upma, you can add green peas, fine chopped carrots and French beans. Stir and cook covered until slightly tender.
- Pour water and add salt. Mix and taste test the water. It has to be slightly salty. If needed add more.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil. Set the flame to low.
- With one hand pour rava in a slow stream to the boiling water, while you stir the rava in the water with the other hand. This way incorporate the entire rava into the boiling water. (check video). Make sure the water is still boiling well consistently while you add the semolina.
- Be quick at this stage. Stir everything once to check any lumps. Break up if any.
- Cover and cook on the lowest flame until the water is completely absorbed. This just takes 2 to 4 mins depending on the kind of pot or pan used.
- Open the lid and stir once. Add ghee if you like. Give a quick stir.
- Switch off the stove and cover again. Allow upma to rest for 5 mins, this helps it to become fluffy.
- Serve rava upma plain or with spiced peanut podi, chutney, pickle or curd. Garnish with roasted/fried peanuts.
- Roasting: Rava can be roasted ahead & stored in an air tight jar for a month. This saves some time when you want to make the upma. Roast rava well, stirring continuously on a low to medium heat until crunchy and slightly aromatic. We don’t want to brown the rava as it alters the flavor. Upma can become sticky if the rava is not roasted well.
- Oil: Using the right amount of oil helps to cook up the semolina to a fluffy texture without turning sticky.
- Water to rava proportion: If you want to make a single serving of upma with ½ cup semolina, you can use 1½ cups water. Upma when made in small quantity takes up more water. To make in larger quantity, 1 cup or more – use 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups water for every cup of rava.
- To make smooth & soft upma like in Karnataka restaurants, use 4 tbsps ghee or oil and 4 cups of water for every cup of rava. Also increase the tempering ingredients proportionately. This serves 4.
- Garnishing: You can roast peanuts & cashews in teaspoon oil until golden and crunchy. Set them aside for garnish.
- Adding rava in a slow stream: Regulate the flame to low while you incorporate the rava to the boiling water. Also keep stirring else lumps can form.
- Ghee: We usually top hot upma with ghee. You can add as per your preference or even skip it. 1 teaspoon per serving enhances the aroma of your upma.
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 Upma Video
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This upma recipe was first published in July 2016. Updated & republished in November 2022.
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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I am now doing my own cooking as my wife has gone abroad. Today I tried this Rava upma as per your instructions and it turned out to be a masterpiece. A guy who normally doesn’t like rava upma has become a great fan of it thanks to your fantastic recipe and easy step by step instructions.
That’s amazing Kumar! So glad to know you like it. Thank you for sharing back
i’ve tried a few upma recipes and this is my favorite. i started adding an extra 1/2 tsp of cumin because i love that flavor. i usually use dried curry leaves because i don’t always have fresh ones (living in US). it still turns out great. since i’m vegan, i tried using coconut oil in place of ghee and i loved it! thank you for creating this recipe, it’s accessible even to someone who is a beginner at Indian cooking!
Katherine, Thank you for sharing back how it turned out. Happy to know!
Thank you for your recipes. Please share quinoa dosa recipe.
Yes sure I can share it.
Made your upma and pesarattu for a hotel style breakfast. Both came out delicious. My in-laws loved them. Thank you
Love that combo! Upma Pesarattu is a popular combo in the Telugu speaking homes. We always make it. Glad your in-laws loved it. Thanks Mohana for trying
I followed this upma recipe and comes out good. I use more oil for preference.
Yes you can add more oil and reduce the serving size.
I follow this recipe to the T except for peanuts which I don’t prefer. Love this upma and been making it often now. Thank you.
Glad to know Gamini. Thanks for trying.
This recipe works really well. I made excellent upma.
Thank you Mani. Happy to know!
I used couscous to make this upma. Tempered as mentioned in the recipe and made the broth. Stirred in the couscous and turned off. It turned out beautiful.
That’s awesome Maria. I am amazed at your thought. Thanks for sharing with us how you made it.
Eating porridge like upma in a best friend’s home is a lovely childhood memory. When I got married and had my own kitchen, I asked my friends’ mom for the recipe. She gave me a written recipe which exactly seemed like yours but missed the amount of semolina. She told me to add it as required which did not quite get me to making it right. She said you should stop adding the semolina when the thing becomes like a porridge and turn off. I was hunting the internet and I tried your recipe last night. This upma tasted delicious but did not yield me the porridge like consistency. Can you guide me what I should be doing?
Thanks for trying Aria. Yes I know this method and that’s how upma is made traditionally. Try a small batch with half cup semolina and 3 cups water. The key is to take off from heat at the right time, when it looks like a porridge. You also need to serve it right away. Hope this helps
First time in my life I made upma and it turned out so good. Used carrots, peas and beans too. Thank you
Glad to know Keerti. Thanks for sharing how it turned out.
I have tried so many recipes for upma but this one tastes the best. Thank you!
Glad you like it Payal
Thank you so much
This is my favorite recipe to make upma. I keep coming back to it every time I need a quick dinner. I throw in some frozen veggies & serve with your flaxseed podi alongside. Absolutely delicious!
Thank you so much Avantika for sharing how it turned out for you.
My go to recipe…loved by family even 2 year old loves to eat the upma. THANK YOU for sharing lovely recipes.
Joyce Thank you,
Happy to know your little one eats it.
Easy to make ,great step by step instructions and came out great !
Glad to know!
Very useful for making for 22 people
Exceptional recipe very well put together
Best upma recipe there is !!! Turned out exactly like in the recipe. I always look for your recipes when cooking something new. Such clear instructions! Thank you 🙂
Sumeeyae, Glad you like this. Thank you so much!
Yes agreed. This recipe makes the best upma. Thank you.