I’m a savory breakfast girl. You’ll never see me ordering French toast, pancakes, or waffles at brunch—I crave protein-rich eggs and vegetable sides that fill me up and keep me energized. So when my boyfriend’s mother recently offered to make me Upma, a traditional South Indian breakfast with a Cream of Wheat base, I politely declined. I assumed it would be similar to other grain breakfasts, like oatmeal, which are often sweetened with fruit, cinnamon, and sugar, and just not my thing. But you know what they say about assumptions.
She insisted I try it and I’m glad she did. The Upma was fluffy but filling, and the turmeric, cumin, and onion gave it a savory kick that was just as satisfying as my usual veggie-egg scramble. Plus, the dal (lentils) and cashews added protein to the dish, so once breakfast was over I felt ready to tackle the day. She kindly shared the recipe below.
Note: If you don’t have time to buy dal, you can substitute green peas and diced carrots.
2 cups of water
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 Tbsp. of chana dal (or diced carrots)
2 Tbsp. skinned urad dal (or green peas)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. mustard seeds
½ tsp. of fresh ginger and garlic, minced into a paste
½ cup chopped onion
8-10 fresh or frozen curry leaves (optional)
1 cup Cream of Wheat
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ cup cashews
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. butter (optional)
- In a pot, bring water to a boil.
- In a separate pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add chana dal (or diced carrots) and sauté until it turns golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in urad dal (or green peas), then add cumin, mustard, garlic paste, onion, and curry leaves (if using). Mix well. After a few minutes, when the mixture begins to sputter, mix in Cream of Wheat, salt, and turmeric, and lower heat to medium-low.
- Add boiling water slowly to Cream of Wheat mixture, stir, and cover on low heat. Add lemon juice, cashews, cilantro, and butter if using. Fluff Cream of Wheat with a fork and serve.
Recipe provided by Sulochana Reddy