Add 1 cup 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 1 small onion, 1 to 2 green chilies and ½ inch ginger. (Optional: To make vegetable upma, you can also use ¼ cup green peas, ¼ cup fine chopped carrots and 2 fine chopped french beans)
How to make upma
Pour 2 tablespoons oil to a hot pan. Next add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon urad dal, 1½ teaspoon channa dal, 2 tablespoons peanuts & 8 cashews (split open).
Fry them stirring until the dals and peanuts turn golden and aromatic.
Add 1 pinch 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 ¼ cup green peas, ¼ cup fine chopped carrots and 2 french beans. Stir and cook covered until slightly tender.
Pour water and add ½ teaspoon 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.
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.