Buckwheat Upma

One of the ubiquitous dishes in South India is Upma, usually made with rava, a semolina product. But it can be made with other grains, like millet, corn, poha, vermicelli and even cracked wheat. Today I am making it with buckwheat as I happened to have it in the cupboard. Buckwheat is particularly good for upma as it cooks to a creamy porridge-like consistency.

Upma is much loved, especially in Tamil Nadu, as a breakfast dish and as a tiffin. But really, it is very easy to make. The grain, usually rava, is cooked in a spice flavoured liquid until the desired consistency is reached. Some like it thin, some thick. Truly it is generally made in under 10 mins, although using buckwheat takes a little longer due to its cooking time.

Similar dishes include Fried Upma, Buckwheat Polenta, and Buckwheat Salad.

Browse all of our Upma recipes, and our Buckwheat dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here.

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Upma and Fried Upma with Ricotta

Upma is a delicious breakfast dish and snack from South India. Rava (also called Rawa, Sooji, Suji or Upma grain) is a semolina product that is cooked with spices and sometimes finely chopped vegetables for a stunningly delicious dish.

Ottolenghi, in his book Plenty More takes his version of Upma and allows it to set before pan frying wedges. It is a delicious way to use Upma and a great use of left-overs. Rather than use his recipe, I cook Upma in a more traditional South Indian way, using his method to pan fry it, then serve it with either seasoned yoghurt or ricotta.

Rava, like semolina, is a granulated wheat flour that have a grainy and coarse texture to it. There are two types available, a fine-grained version and a coarser-grained one that is better for making Upma. In general, sooji will have a finer grain than rava. If you use the fine grained one for Upma, you might have to reduce the water so that you don’t get a pasty texture.

I cook Upma until it is thick and holds shape.  One variation is to add more water to get a looser consistency. If making the fried upma, cook until it is quite thick.

As an aside and just for your information if you are interested: There are many different types of rava, perhaps thousands of regional variations. Some of the variations are because different wheats are used. One of them called Bansi Rava and also known as samba wheat in many parts of India, is a very fine powdered flour unlike the more coarsely granulated Rava. It is made from a variety of wheat called samba godumai that has a long body and slightly sharp edges on both sides.

Another famous Rava is the Bombay Rava which has a very coarse texture that is a little bigger than regular Rava. It is made from whole wheat grains of a wheat called mottai godumai. There is another type, chamba rava, which is a by-product of wheat flour. Semolina, on the other hand, is always made from Duram wheat.

Similar recipes include Buckwheat Upma, Polenta Crisps and Lemony Poha.

Browse all of our Semolina recipes and all of our Breakfast dishes. Indian Snacks are here. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

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