Sunday, March 07, 2010

Rice Cooker Upma

I was weighing the pros and cons of buying a rice cooker and did the sensible thing- I asked my wise readers to weigh in. My tiny kitchen space necessitates that all appliances go through a lengthy vetting process before being allowed in. When I asked about rice cookers, I was rewarded with dozens of great suggestions via comments and e-mails. The Cooker wrote in to say that you can make excellent  वाफे भरला (a Marathi term meaning full of steam) upma in the rice cooker. Ooh, that's just the kind of incentive I needed to go buy a rice cooker.

I tried it just this morning for a leisurely Sunday brunch, and she's right- the rice cooker makes excellent upma. All you do is make the tempering and get the vegetables started in a small pan on the stove top, then add these to the rice cooker with rava (cream of wheat) and water. Then walk away and come back to luscious upma wrapped in fragrant steam.

In Indian stores, you often find something called "roasted upma rava", which is coarser than regular rava and pre-roasted. If you are using the regular kind, roast the rava before you use it in this recipe.

Rice Cooker Upma
(makes 3-4 servings)

1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a medium saute pan and add the tempering-
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Pinch of asafetida
1 tsp. urad dal
1 tsp. chana dal
1 sprig curry leaves

2. Stir in the following and cook until onions are translucent-
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
Handful chopped cashews (or peanuts)
1 medium onion, diced finely
2 hot green chillies, chopped in thirds

3. Stir in 2 cups mixed vegetables, cut in small dice. I used carrots, peas and green bell pepper this morning; corn, green beans, spinach, potato, lima beans, cauliflower work too. 

4. Now turn off the heat and transfer the contents of this pan to the rice cooker. 

5. To the rice cooker, add-
1 rice cooker measure roasted upma rava (my rice cooker came with this measure; it holds 180 ml versus 240 ml in a standard US cup)
Salt to taste
12 tsp sugar
3 12 rice cooker measures water

5. Plug in the rice cooker and let the upma cook. It will shift to the "warm" mode when it is done.

6. Stir in the following-
1 tbsp. ghee/butter (optional)
Handful of minced cilantro
Handful of grated fresh/frozen coconut
Lime or lemon juice

7. Serve with podi or pickles and something crunchy, if you like. 

This was incredible! I don't make upma very often because I don't like the frequent stirring, and the rava clumping and clinging to my spatula, then forming little volcanoes and spitting steam on me. This takes the fuss right out of it. Brunch just got a lot easier.

On the Bookshelf
I took a break from reading a couple of non-fiction books and the rather heavy Pulitzer prize winners to read something more entertaining.

Tarquin Hall has written a detective novel and his character is India's Most Private Investigator, Vish Puri. The book is set in contemporary Delhi, with trips to Jaipur and Jharkhand. It is a quick read and an engaging mystery, capturing the frantic energy of urban life in India, and is written in typically Indian English (which I love, because I speak it), sprinkled with phrases like "outside food" and "thank you, ji" and "listen, na".

There are countless references to food, like when Vish Puri devours green chili pakoras against his physician's orders-
"...he sank his teeth into another hot, crispy pakora and his taste buds thrilled to the tang of salty batter, fiery chili and the tangy red chutney in which he had drowned the illicit snack."
A reader named Vijaya recommended this book to me in a comment on this post; if you are reading this, thank you Vijaya!

What's on your bookshelf these days?


  1. easy and wonderful. I make a lot of cooking in summer using rice cooker as it doesnt heat the room up.

    Quinoa pulav, Idlis, Sabudhana khichidi, dal, rice, bisi bele baath , stews , soups,pasta to name a few.

    This is usually one thing i take with me when i go out on trips. It keeps my costs down and helps me not get tensed with what sort of animal stock have they used in my soup .

    its great once you know how to handle it. Happy cooking the new way Nupur


  2. wow, never thought of making upma in rice cooker! i should try that soon. rice cooker is definitely shelf space worthy and I am so happy with mine. My bookshelf has Mansfield park currently.. the only Jane Austen one I haven;t read so far.

  3. Upma looks nice! I use my reice cooker on trips to make chole. We heat oil, saute onions and then make chole all in the rice cooker. Followed by a dinner of maggi again made in the rice cooker! Easy, no?!

  4. I have never made upma in a rice cooker... I should try that out:)

  5. I am currently reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, it is pretty good. My dad just bought a rice cooker and keeps raving about it. Perhaps it is time to give in and buy another kitchen appliance...

  6. i make the same with broken wheat, on rice cooker. comes out super soft and nice.

  7. I subscribed to an online library and have been reading 4 books a month... something I hadn't done in a long time :)

    Started with fiction... the light kind, so I can get back into the habit... am on Kinsella books now, and Darlymple is next... incidentally, about Delhi :)

    I should try upma in the rice cooker... has turned out great!

  8. This is one of my favorites. We usually carry roasted upma mix and small rice cooker on long trips. Upma gets ready for dinner within no time.

  9. Preparing Upma in Cooker is new! And it has turned out Perfect!

    Currently am reading Rujuta Diwekar’s “Don’t lose your mind lose your weight”; quite inspirational ; making me look like a fool when I used to avoid fried items hoping that will help me get in my old jeans :P

  10. never tried the sooji upma in the rice cooker, i've made semia upma tho with great results.... must try this out

  11. I have Tried Shira in Microwave - maybe it is time for UPMA in rice cooker ( though might have to wait as dont have one right now :))

    If you like Indian-English authors Try Amitav Ghosh -a different genre,or Rohinton Mistry (though on the heavier side) For the lighter side - i love Alexender McCall Smith's = No 1 Ladies Detective agencies (will make you try bush tea ). or "Baking Cakes in Kigali".

    Right now though I am reading a book called "The Other Hand" - by Chris Cleave ,cant describe it but it is amazing!

  12. Today I made Upma too. Oh, this is really cool idea Nupur. I didn't know that rice cooker comes with such a versatility. This definitely goes in my 'To-buy-things' list now. I'll give it try someday as i love Upma and usually prepares it every other week.
    Currently reading: The memoirs of Geisha.

  13. Wow Gr8 idea of making upma in Rice cooker, Thanks for sharing:)

  14. Hi Nupur,
    Wow.....i never thought one could make effortless and still good looking upma in a rice cooker..... thanks for sharing the recipe and the click is great too......
    The books sounds interesting...... I must check it out.....
    My current read is Agatha christie..."They Do It with Mirrors" i m reading it again after many years.....and also Rujuta Diwekar's" Lose your weight and not your mind"
    Happy Women's Day to you....
    Wishing you Lots of Joy, Happiness, Peace, Prosperity, Health and Wealth always..... God Bless You......

  15. thanks for the idea of using ric ecooker for upma..

  16. Thank you for the post..
    ... have you read the adventures of Feluda by satyajit ray... that's what i just finished reading.. its a mystery book for adolescents but... i liked it even as an adult...
    happy women's day

  17. Reading "Dont lose your mind, lose your weight". Going to get started on either "Toast" or " The Hundred Secert Senses". Have you read the latter??

    I'm going to try making this upma sometimes this week, thanks for this!!


  18. Hi Nupur,
    I made upma too this morning.
    You could try doing the tempering in the rice cooker itself.
    I used to use a pan for doing the tempering whenever I made jeera rice or pulao in rice cooker and now I use the rice cooker itself to do tempering and saute the onions, veggies etc when making pulao. Have never tried making upma in rice cooker though. Hope it helps.

  19. Your upma plate looks so mouthwatering good, can I add, upma is one of my favourite snacks! Your blog has been featuring a lot of my favs lately, thanks! Do you remember the breakfast at weddings in mumbai, steaming hot upma and batata wadas?
    A question, is that methkoot in the picture next to the shev?

  20. Ooooohhh...I LOVE mysteries. I will definitely check that book out. I just read "Wolf Hall" (OK) and "Sea of Poppies" (GREAT language, ripping plot, and set in India) and "People of the Book" (Very good)

    And I'm so glad you got the rice cooker. As someone who used to be very against the idea of rice cookers, I can say that once you have one you become one of the pod people - you not only use yours all the time, but you start trying to convert others. Resistance is futile...

  21. Shu- Thanks for sharing all those great ideas!

    PJ- Ooh, it has been 10+ years since I read Jane Austen, I should go read her books again!

    Sangeetha- Sounds terrific!

    Rachana Kothari- It is worth a try :)

    Megan- If you eat rice often and have the counter space for it, it is definitely worthwhile!

    Nags- Yes, definitely soft and nice.

    Raaga- The online library sounds like a very interesting idea!

    minoti- Sounds great!

    Kanchan- So she tells you not to avoid fried food, then?

    arundati- Ooh, I should put semia on my shopping list, have not used them in a while.

  22. Arati- I have read everything written by Amitav Ghosh, Mistry and McCall Smith, and I love all three authors. But I'm going to look for Baking Cakes in Kigali- thanks for the recommendation. I checked for The Other Hand but my library does not carry it- oh well!

    Sonia- I read the Memoirs of a Geisha several years ago and it was quite an interesting read.

    Khaugiri- Glad you like it :)

    Rujuta- Yes, effortless is what it was :) You are the second person who commented who is reading Diwekar's book! And thank you for the sweet wishes; wishing you the same.

    Trendsetters- Thanks

    Sharvari- I have read a couple of Feluda mysteries and I just loved them! On a trip to India, I wanted to pick up the entire collection but never got around to it. It is not something that I can find in the public library here, unfortunately.

    JCgal- You are the third person reading the "don't lose your mind" book- wow! I loved both Toast and The Hundred Secret Senses.

    Michelle- Thanks for the idea, will try that next time!

    Namita- Yes, I'm making a lot of the old favorites these days for some reason :) Oh wedding breakfasts are the best. I think that is because they use a 1:1 proportion of rava and ghee for the upma :D The powder in the pic is podi from Madras, so a cousin of our metkoot.

    Diane- I loved Sea of Poppies and will definitely look for People of the Book- thanks for the recommendations!
    LOL yes, now that I have sacrificed counter space to the rice cooker, I am hell bent on making the most of it.

  23. Making upma in rice cooker is such a neat idea. I will definitely try next time. Somehow I like the coarse variety than the soft one.

    You know I love when somebody asks for - 'What is on their bookshelf?'. The comment section, just like yours will have so many new book recos. Thanks for that. Currently I am reading 'The Last Song' by Nicholas Spark. I initially started on 'The Historian' by Elizbeth Kostava, but I wanted something light. I will get back to it probably once I come back from India.


  24. Nupur, I have never tried making upma in a rice cooker. I am going to try it right away :-) Thank you.

    I just finished reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Steig Larsson and started with "Winter in Madrid" by C.J Sansom - all selected by my book club.

  25. So glad that worked!

    Shev or farsan is a must-have accompaniment for upma :)

  26. The rice cooker is another utensil that has somehow found its way out of my life- your posts are convincing me to maybe bring it back. (the coating at the bottom of the rice cooker seems to come off after my second rice cooker- I decided I probably didn't need one. I may have to rethink that- I used to make pongal, pulao, bise bele bath etc in the rice cooker).

    The Vish Puri mystery sounds fun- I will check it out!

    Currently I am reading The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk..I have been enjoying the book- I quite like his style.

  27. What a brilliant idea! Never thought of using the rice cooker for making upma.

    I just read Thrity Umrigar's The Space Between Us. A sad story but a well-written book. And it made me quite nostalgic for Bombay too.

  28. Yes, I love the blog recommendations too! I recently read Palace of Illusions after reading about it on a blog and loved it.. just finished Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell) and the girl who played with fire (Steig Larsson) - both are great. Currently reading 'the secret' by Rhonda byrne.. jury is still out on whether i like it :). Have you (or any of your readers) read it? I am curious to hear what people think about it..

  29. hey great idea..thats really a quickie..

    I just finished reading The bread winner, Parvana and Shauziya by Deborah Ellis, 3 books on the life of the afghan women post taliban rule.quite touching..

  30. the eggplant and potato dish is ultimate... :)

  31. Siri- I know, most of my favorite reads have come about from hearing others talk about the book. I haven't read Nicholas Sparks; I'll look for that book-thanks!

    Viji- Last year, everyone was raving about the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I haven't read it yet. Did you enjoy it?

    TheCooker- Thanks for sharing your terrific idea!

    Lavanya- I know, let's see if I am able to keep this non-stick coating on! I haven't read anything by Pamuk- definitely sounds interesting.

    Swati- I must look for the Thrity Umrigar book, thanks for the recommendation!

    Nisha- I like Malcolm Gladwell's articles in the New Yorker and also enjoyed his book The Tipping Point. I've requested Outliers from the library and I hope to get it soon.
    But no, have not read anything by Rhonda Bryne.

    Deepa G Joshi- Those books sound very interesting!

    Deepa Raman- Thanks

  32. I love your blog and am going to try the rice cooker upama. I have some rice cereal from Bob's mill - wonder if that'd work too for upama.

    I'm reading Love in the Time of Cholera By Gabriel Marquez and Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson. I also strongly recommend Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig if you haven't read it..Rashmi

  33. Rashmi- I have never tried Bob's Mill rice cereal so I have no idea about that. Thanks so much for the Doig recommendation, no I have not read but will look for the book.

  34. Thanks. Great idea. You really are a treasure trove of ideas.

    Question. I notice the water:rava ratio is 3.5:1 as opposed to ~2:1 when making upma the traditional way. Is this on purpose, something needed because of the rice cooker? Or was that a typo?

  35. Gaurav- Thanks! No typo- I chose to add more water because I like a soft, creamy upma. And truth it, the 3.5 cups of water got soaked up and the upma was not soggy at all, so I suspect the rice cooker might need more water per cup of rava than stove-top cooking.

  36. Your recipe is very similar to how I make my upma (I love adding lots of veggies including peas and edamame), except I didn't make mine in the rice cooker and I thank you so much for posting this. It made it so easy (I have the Aroma rice cooker) and it was yummilicious!!

  37. I use the rice cooker to make Upma too.I think you should do a post/round up of what people cook on would definitely help.

  38. How about you can thrown in the vegetables also in the rice cooker and you only do the tadka on the pan?

    Probably takes more water?

  39. Your ratio of rava: water is off. It was just way too goo-ey for me unlike your picture....

  40. oh.. what is the ideal rava : water ratio ?


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