Rava Upma

Rava is the tamil name for powdered semolina. It is coarser than semolina flour but finer than small pasta. Upma is the tamil name of this dish, which can be made with rava, vermicelli, tapioca or cracked wheat.

Upma is a staple in any south indian home and my comfort food! It is typically eaten as breakfast but could also be eaten as supper.

I grew up eating this dish on most weekends and my mom is “THE” expert of making this. This is my humble attempt at being half as good a cook as her! Making this transports me to my mums kitchen in Chennai, India and makes my kitchen smell amazing!

A great combination is to fill Pesarattu with rava upma inside and eat for breakfast. But either pesarattu or upma on their own makes a meal by itself.


2 cups rava (also known as sooji or suji in indian stores)
1 large onion, diced
2 potatoes, washed and diced
1/2 cup peas (I use frozen peas thawed to room temperature)
You can improvise and add more veggies like carrots, corn, string beans.
5 dried red chillies (You could also use any green chilli you have in hand. You will need 4 serranos or 2 jalapenos, or 5-6 indian green chillies)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp asafoetida powder
1 tsp urad dal (split black gram dal)
1″ piece ginger, minced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp salt
4 cups water
3-4 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the rava. We are dry roasting the rava, so no oil. Keep roasting the rava by stirring it continuously to prevent the bottom from burning. Roast for 5 minutes until some of the rava turns opaque/slightly golden. Remove and set aside.


Heat oil in the saute pan over medium heat until it starts turning slightly golden. Add in the mustard seeds and just when they start to pop, add the urad dal and asafoetida.

Fry for a couple of seconds until the urad dal start to turn golden brown.

Add red chillies. Saute for another few seconds and add the onions and ginger. Cook until onions turn slightly brown, around 5 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes and peas, add a tsp of salt, cover and cook for 7-8 minutes until the potatoes are tender.


Add the roasted rava and remaining salt to this and mix well together. Add in 4 cups water and keep stirring well until the water is well incorporated with the rava mixture. It is important to keep stirring in this step to avoid any lumps. If you do find the rava clumping, then lower the heat and break all the lumps gently.


Cover and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Uncover, stir the mixture gently to check if it’s done. The rava must be soft, creamy, slightly fluffy and importantly must not be sticky.

If you think it is still a bit watery or too dense, then drizzle in some canola oil and stir well and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.

Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the top, add the lemon juice, mix well and serve warm with any chutney you like. I had some Onion chutney to serve with.


I have entered this dish for the Food For Thought event hosted by Erin at The Skinny Gourmet.



  1. Wow!!!
    I’m hungry already, it all looks so yummy. Am going to try itfor B/F tomorrow.

    Loved the step by step method and pics.

    Thanks a million :-)

    God bless


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