Tomato Upma

A staple quick fix breakfast in every South Indian home, called by different names depending on the region in South India where it comes from , it is called Upma (short for Uppumavu), Uppitu, Uppindi, Kharabath etc. There are many variations in preparation of this simple breakfast dish, healthy and filling, it is made from  roasted Semolina or Cream of wheat as it is a called here in the United States.


Food for me has always been about memories, hence I remember each one of them with fondness & take pleasure in recreating them in a land far away  from home where it originated.  A flashback :The cricket season is in full swing, it is almost a party everyday at home during cricket season, friends drop in stay for breakfast or lunch depending on if it is a day and night match or day time one. Endless cups of coffee & tea are made & served, for those fanatics who are superstitious about moving their chair positions and changing the luck of the game, nail biting tension as India moves to victory, yet the suspense looms large.The grown ups discuss the logistics of the game, while we kids along with our group of friends sit huddled together in the staircase, watching that one huge TV screen as the spinner spins his ball. Upma was flowing in surplus, healthy and hot to have as breakfast, a quick and ready fix for large crowds, was never a favorite of mine growing up, yet as years passed we talk about the health benefits it offers to our kids, don’t ask me when the change happened. my kid loves it and thinks it is one of the cool breakfast his mom makes for him, so far so good. Memories of friends laughter ,shared anticipation to win the game, celebrations after, all of these came flooding by as I stirred my Upma this morning….food like music connects people from a far off time, warming thoughts all over again.

Tomato Upma

Tomato Upma

Recipe by Maya Shetty
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Cooking time


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  • 2 cups Semolina/Cream of Wheat

  • 1 tbsp Ghee

  • 1 Onion ( finely sliced)

  • 2 -3 Tomatoes

  • 4 -5 Green chillies

  • 1 ′ Ginger

  • 1 cup Mixed vegetables ( any of your choice)

  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder

  • Salt- to taste

  • 4 cups Water ( bring it to a boil)

  • Seasoning:
  • 1 tsp Channa & Urad dhal mix

  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds

  • 1/2 tsp Jeera/Cumin seeds

  • Curry leaves or curry leaf powder (3-4 leaves or 1/2 tsp if it is powdered)


  • In a thick bottomed vessel add the ghee when it is warm add the semolina to it & roast it fine. Set aside.
  • Now in the same vessel saute the onions, green chillies and ginger after seasoning with Urad & Channa dhal, mustard & curry leaves. When the onions turn soft add the cubed tomatoes, cover with lid and allow it to turn mushy and soft.To this add the mixed vegetables and stir fry them a little.
  • Now add the water, bring it to a boil. then add turmeric powder & salt to the boiling water.
  • Now slowly add the roasted semolina to the boiling water & keep stirring till attains a porridge like consistency and all the water is evaporated.
  • Serve hot with spicy pickles or for little children it can be had with yogurt or bananas too. Enjoy!


  • Makes a yummy breakfast & can be made in a jiffy.

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