Main Menu

VeganMoFo: "U" is for Upma with Millet and Veggies

The “V” Word continues its celebration of VeganMoFo, a month of Vegan food, with the other 25 letters of the alphabet. Today “U” is for Upma with Millet and Veggies.

What is upma, you ask? Upma is a popular hot breakfast dish that originated in South India. In the language of Tamil, upma is written as உப்புமா.

Upma is usually made with semolina called rava but the variations, either in the spices used or the ingredients added to the dish, are endless. When lots of veggies are added, it becomes a hearty dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I wanted my Upma to be gluten-free so I substituted millet for the semolina. I love millet with its sweet, nutty taste. One of the oldest cereal grains, it does not form acid so it’s very easy to digest. Millet is hearty and filled with vitamins and nutrients. It is nearly 15% protein, contains high amounts of fiber, B-complex vitamins including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, the essential amino acid methionine, lecithin, and some vitamin E. It is particularly high in the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.

When made traditionally, Upma should have the consistency of porridge – sort of an Indian polenta. However, I prefer mine drier with a consistency that is more like rice. This is one of those recipes that is great for cleaning out the fridge. I used whatever vegetables I happened to have – tomatoes, potatoes, yellow squash, carrots and broccoli. You can use whatever vegetables make you happy. Dry roasting the millet before cooking with it brings out an even nuttier flavor.

I had expected finding a “U” word was going to be tough but now Upma is one of my favorite dishes especially for dinner. At first I felt a little bad for changing the recipe so much but New York chef Floyd Cardoz who was born in Mumbai took the title of Top Chef Masters (season 3) with his version “Wild Mushroom Upma Polenta with Kokum & Coconut Milk.” Chef Cardoz won $100,000 for his personalized Upma recipe. I wonder how much I can get for mine…

Upma with Millet and Veggies


1 ½ cups millet, rinsed and patted dry
2 Tbs. grape seed oil
1 ½ tsp. mustard seeds
1 ½ tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green chiles, seeded and finely diced
2 tsp. curry powder
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
4 small red potatoes, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbs. fresh cilantro or parsley plus extra for garnish


In a skillet, toast the millet over medium heat until they just start to brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a deep skillet or sauté pan that has a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds. Let cook for 1 minute or until they just start to pop. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chiles, curry powder and the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent and softened.

Add the bell pepper, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, broccoli and tomatoes and season with salt. Cook another 3 minutes.

Add the toasted millet to the pan. Add the broth or water to the sauté pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, mix quickly, cover the pot and let cook until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. When all the water is gone, remove from the heat and let stand, covered, 5 more minutes.

Top with lemon juice and mix in the cilantro or parsley. Serve while hot. Garnish with extra cilantro or parsley. Enjoy!

“U” is for Upma with Millet and Veggies. For another “U” word, you’ll have to look somewhere else because I don’t have one. But I will next year 🙂

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.

(Visited 1,655 times, 1 visits today)

, , , , ,

4 Responses to VeganMoFo: "U" is for Upma with Millet and Veggies

  1. Aityfairycelt August 30, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    I really love dishes like this! It is another fabulous recipe and I appreciate millet or buckwheat (I live them) but also am able to use hardly any rice nowadays. I do use quinoa.
    What do you think of all these reports about cyanide in the rices, especially brown? We are told about good rinsing (we know) but the little footnote about just eating it now and then seems to strike a cautionary note!

    • Rhea August 31, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

      I did hear about that years ago. I still eat brown rice. There’s a cautionary tale about everything.

  2. Rhea Parsons October 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Asha, thank you. That is so sweet of you to say. Your version sounds delicious and authentic. But I’m glad you approve of mine too 🙂

  3. Asha October 28, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Hi Rhea, You have made this recipe your own. I have upma almost every other day. Just had Vangibath yesterday. That is upma with eggplant but spices are as in gourmet dishes (cloves/cardamom/cinnamon). My regular upma is a simpler version. With mustard seeds, I use 50/50 urad/channa dal with curry leaves, ginger, green chillies & skip cumin & curry pwdr. For dinner, I can use your upma with millet & veges which is more filling. Thanks.

Hit Counter provided by orange county property management