Upma is a classic South Indian savory dish made with cream of wheat. It’s a fluffy pilaf that is minimally spiced and made with veggies of your choice. In this recipe I made upma with green peas and cilantro for a deliciously light and flavorful lunch option.
About the recipe
Upma takes many forms in South Indian homes as it is an easy dish to prepare when one is in a rush to put something on the table fast. It’s a popular dish for its versatility as cream of wheat gets jazzed up with any combination of veggies and spices to create a filling one pot meal. Upma is fluffy and light, yet filling all at the same time.
In this variation I made upma after returning home from a trip. I had frozen peas, onions in my basket, and fresh cilantro – hence this green pea and cilantro upma. I kept the spices extremely minimal – just mustard seeds and asafetida powder, both these spices add a lovely mild toasty fragrance to this simple dish..
Green Pea and Cilantro Upma
2 cups cream of wheat – dry roast them on a pan until slightly fragrant and color changes to light brown – about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
1 large onion chopped
2 cups frozen peas
A bunch of fresh cilantro finely chopped
Curry leaves if you have – about 10 leaves
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp asafetida powder
Green chilis or dried red chiles (for heat)
In a large pan warm 1 tbsp oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Next add the green chilis or red chilies and onions. Cook the onions until fragrant and translucent – about 2-3 minutes. Add the asafetida powder and stir in.
Next add the peas, salt and sugar and cook for 2 minutes until the peas are slightly tender. Then add the roasted cream of wheat and stir into the peas. Add 1 cup water and the butter. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. This will make the cream of wheat fluffy. Check at the 2 minute mark to see if it needs more water so the upma is not too dry. Add another cup of water and continue to steam the upma.
After 5 minutes upma is ready. Taste and adjust for salt. Add the fresh lemon juice and fresh cilantro and stir in.
Serve upma warm with plain yogurt.