Reliving Childhood Traditions While Creating New Memories: Savory Upma (Semolina) Dish!

Brunch has always been my favorite meal of the week. The hustle and bustle of the week, work demands, and school work are few reasons why I feel the need to indulge and enjoy a luxurious meal, leisurely surrounded with my loved ones (family and friends).

I have always looked forward to Saturday’s since I was a child. My mother worked full time and with the hustle and bustle of everyday life; mornings were usually a rushed affair. Therefore growing up, weekends especially Saturday’s were extra special because mom would cook that something special whether it was breakfast or lunch. Therefore, Saturday’s in my mind evoke similar nostalgic memories which most Westerners consider Sunday Supper.

One tradition I am proud to say I have diligently carried in my own kitchen. This Labor Day Weekend holiday had me preoccupied with various social engagements. But I still wanted to cook something on Saturday. In lieu of the limited time I had, I chose to make Upma (Semolina) savory breakfast dish.

If you aren’t already aware, I was born and raised in Delhi (Capital of India). Speaking of Indian Food, traditional Indian breakfast is savory and spicy, and hardly ever sweet. I am a sharing a recipe of Upma, which is the staple of every home typically in the Southern States of India. If you ask any Indian, they will validate that their mom makes the tastiest Upma in town.  Each of us has the fondest memories, impish stories, and fastidious preferences revolving around this simple dish.  This humble dish is made with toasted semolina, seasoned with curry leaves & spices, garnished with cashew nuts is relished equally whether it is a hot summer day or a cool winter morning.

In today’s times, Upma can hardly be considered exotic or unique but for me, this Semolina Upma truly warms my soul, taking me back to a happy place; a place where all you feel is love….and the comfort of being home.

Savory & Spicy Upma

There is nothing quite like the aroma of toasted spices and curry leaves, add a dash of lemon and fried cashews to the mix, and you have a spicy & tangy breakfast/brunch one pot meal. Every household has their own version; my usual suspects are semolina, lemons, dry red chilies, cashews, and peas.


  • 1 cup Semolina (coarse)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
  • 7-8 dry red chilies
  • 1 tbs black mustard seeds
  • 2 whole stems of curry leaves
  • 1 big onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 whole lemons, juiced
  • 2 cups frozen peas (or combination of peas, carrots, cauliflower)
  • 2 tbs clarified butter (ghee)


  1. Roast the semolina on medium high heat in a large skillet until it is the color of light brown, stirring constantly. Remove from the pan.
  2. In the same pan add some oil and saute the cashews till red. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add mustard seeds to the same oil. Once they crackle, add curry leaves, onions, and red chilies. Once the onions are transparent, add peas and salt. Saute on low heat, covered for 10 minutes.
  4. Add water, bring to boil and simmer on low heat, covered for 15 minutes. Allowing all the flavors to marry in the broth.
  5. Add semolina and stir constantly, until smooth. Add clarified butter, and cover the pan for few minutes.
  6. Garnish with cashews and lemon juice. Serve hot.

The other breakfast dish which was my comfort dish was Poha (flattened rice) sauteed with ginger, onions, peas, green chilies, and garnished with lemons, cilantro, coconut. My mother still makes this for my family every time she visits us here in Orlando.

What are some of your favorite breakfast dishes? I would love to hear from you. Do share your most cherished memories surrounding family and friends. Until next time, remember love is your secret ingredient and all you need.

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One Comment

  1. I ran across your photo on Foodgawker and couldn’t resist stopping by to tell you that I LOVE that blue dish. It is gorgeous! Have a blessed night.

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