Uppuma, very much a South Indian breakfast dish, is called Uppumavu in Malayalam and Uppittu in Kannada. In Tamil, “uppu” means salt while “ma” could mean flour, dough or batter. This doesn’t quite explain the dish though other than it is savoury and and perhaps somewhere between dough and batter in consistency. Though a breakfast dish, it can be eaten as a snack or brunch. It makes for a wholesome meal in itself.
I’ve noticed people either like Uppuma or they don’t like it at all. I personally love it, especially when it is made with vegetables and served hot. Though not an Uppuma snob, I can get a bit picky about how I eat it. I dislike sticky, lumpy or greasy Uppuma and prefer mine somewhat crumbly and fluffy in texture the way my mother always made it. Uppuma can get lumpy if not cooked and stirred properly and tends to clump. Some people try to over this by adding a little oil or ghee to it just before they take it off the stove. This tends to make it greasy some of the time.
Uppuma is traditionally made with coconut oil and no vegetables or onions. Freshly grated coconut is sometimes added to it. Today’s, the recipe I share with you is my mother’s No Lump Vegetable Uppuma. It is not the traditional version and truly a lump proof method. What makes it lump free is two things. One is the roasting of the semolina/ rawa. The other is the addition of boiling water to the semolina and vegetables and not the usual other way around. This recipe uses onions and vegetables but no coconut. Though I use a little ghee, you can substitute it with oil to make it vegan. If you use rice grits, it becomes gluten-free as well.
Uppuma is usually served with coconut chutney, though it can be eaten with Indian pickles (mango or lime pickles are the best). Other popular accompaniments are sugar, banana or even plain yogurt! I like it best plain, or sometimes sprinkled with a little sugar on top. without any accompaniment and occasionally with the small sweet variety of bananas.
Please note this recipe was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated with images and text.
No Lump Vegetable Uppuma
- 1 1/2 cups rawa (coarse semolina)
- 1 1/2 tsps ghee or oil
- 3 cups water
- to taste salt
- 1 cup finely chopped assorted vegetables (carrot, French beans, green peas, potato)
- 1 big onion finely chopped
- 2 one inch long pieces of ginger minced
- 1 - 2 green chillies chopped
- 2 tsps coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsps urad dal (black gram dal)
- 2 tsps chana dal (Bengal gram dal)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- If pre-roasted rawa is available, then that's best for this uppuma. Otherwise, heat the ghee/ oil and add the rawa. Roast the rawa over low to medium heat till golden in colour and an aroma emanates from the rawa. Ghee gives the uppuma a very nice flavour and taste. If you prefer, you can avoid the ghee and oil here and dry roast the rawa. Keep aside to cool.
- Add a little salt to the 3 cups of water and keep to boil. Steam cook the chopped vegetables, except the onions, till done but firm. Otherwise cook in the microwave. the chopped vegetables (not onions) in the microwave till just done.
- In a wok, heat the 2 tsp oil and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the urad dals and saute till golden brown. Now add the ginger, onions and green chillies. Saute till the onions are soft. Add the curry leaves and vegetables (if microwaved), stir and add the rawa. Stir everything so that the rawa uniformly coats the vegetables.
- Turn down the heat to low. Slowly add the boiling water (with or without the vegetables) because at this point the mixture tends to spit. Stir everything so it is well mixed. Keep mixing occasionally till the rawa absorbs all the water and the uppuma is fluffy. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot. This recipe serves 3 to 4 people.