When I was in college I barely cooked. I lived with my brother who, especially back then, didn’t like to eat much. We pretty much lived on fast food and Doritos. But Upma was one of few things I did cooked back then, since it was fast, easy and one of the few things he would eat.
When I was younger, my mom always made Upma. She didn’t like us eating sugary breakfast cereals in the mornings, she would insist we eat something warm and filling instead. Or as she would say, a “hot breakfast” or “hot snack.” We often had upma along with a hot cup of chai for breakfast. So yummy!
We didn’t just have upma for breakfast. My mom often made it for my brother and me when we complained of being hungry in between meals. It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients and is ready in 15 minutes.
Now that I cook a lot of “real” food, I still make upma pretty regularly. It’s one of those foods that I cook when the foods in my pantry are running low. All it takes is a little semolina (basically Cream of Wheat), onions and frozen peas. So simple!
If you’re like us and have a hard time coming up with breakfast ideas that are both vegan and savory. You have to try upma.
Savory Cream of Wheat with Onions and Peas (Upma)
- 1 cup semolina (cream of wheat or wheat farina)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 green chili, finely chopped (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup peas (I usually use frozen)
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
- 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 3 cups water
- handful of fresh herbs (normally cilantro is used but parsley or basil will work too)
- Heat oil in a 12 inch wide skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, toss in the cumin seeds. Let cook for about 10 seconds.
- Add the onion and green chili with a pinch of salt. Saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.
- Add the semolina. Dry roast the semolina, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant and smells toasty. About 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the water, peas, chili powder, and salt. Stir.
- Let cook for 3 to 4 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
- Sprinkle with lemon juice.
- Fluff with a fork before serving.
Serves 2 to 4.
Feel free to add turmeric or some toasted nuts if you want.