Chocolate and Gold Coins

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Arisi Upma

One of my wife’s favorite tiffin foods is Arisi Upma. Rava Upma is kind of like Cous Cous and I like it but my wife hates. Arisi Upma uses rice instead of wheat.

The other day, I made this dish for her and she said that it came out really well, just like her Grandma’s. So what is the secret? I’m not sure but I suspect it has something to do with the special ingredient I added.

Now here’s the recipe:
Upma mixture:
4 cups rice
1 cups toor dal
Grind these in a mixer (like Sumeet) one at a time until they are each the consistency of beach sand, (don’t substitute beach sand). I sift it so that it comes out more uniform. Then mix the rice and toor dal together. You can store this mix for months.

1 1/3 cups Upma mixture
2 cups water
1 tbsp Channa dal
1 tbsp Urad dal
1 tsp black mustard seed
2 small red chilies
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp corn oil
pinch asophoetida
1 tbsp special ingredient

Heat 2 cups of water in a small pot. In another mid-sized pot, add oil and channa dal and roast until lightly brown. Then add urad dal and mustard seeds and red chilies. The mustard seed tend to pop like popcorn so I put a lid on and lower the heat and keep shaking the pot. Then I add the water (before thing really begin burning). Add salt and asophoetida and let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

Then add the Upma mixture and stir well. This is when I add the special ingredient. I only use extra virgin special ingredient (I doubt her grandmother used this).

Cook on medium low for 15 minutes. Then stir the top portion without disturbing the bottom crust. Then cook another 15 minutes. If it begins to smell burnt, reduce heat. After the second 15 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Arisi Upma is excellent with Patak’s Brinjal pickle.

Here is a link to another recipe (a bit more complicated with ingredients that my wife would never approve) and a picture.


  • Hi Michael,

    I like rava upma too. You should have taken pictures of the arisi upma. It sounds delicious.


    By Blogger Vikram A., at 7:15 AM  

  • I have never heard of Arisi upma - and that is very surprising!
    Cant make out what it is from the description. Could you post a pic?

    Is it like what we in Bangalore would call Bisi Bele Bath or some other similar thingy?

    Rava Upma is great in KharaBath form. Not really otherwise!

    By Blogger BangaloreGuy, at 8:09 AM  

  • Mouth watering. arisi upma is my favorite too. its even better if you can use 'more(buttermilk) molagaa' instead of red chilli's.

    By Blogger Sowmya, at 8:32 AM  

  • you forgot, serve with some of that hot and frothy South Indian coffee poured a mile high, between steel glasses.

    By Blogger, at 9:10 AM  

  • My favourite 'tiffin'. But I never thought that there was thoor dal involved.

    By Blogger Deepa, at 9:24 AM  

  • Michael, not to sound ignorant or something, but is your wife of Indian origin?

    By Anonymous Vulturo, at 10:04 AM  

  • Hi Vikram, Bangaloreguy, Sowmya, Gypsynam, Dreamweaver, and Vulturo

    Indians sure love food.

    Vikram: I like rava upma but my wife won't touch it.

    Bangaloreguy: No, it is nothing like bisi bele baath. I love bisi but it is completely different. It might be like rava upma in the non-kharabath form, but I'm not sure.

    Sowmya: Upma and buttermilk, I hadn't considered that. But my wife would not like that I think.

    Gypsynan: Indeed, that is how I like it, (with hot coffee).

    Dreamweaver: It could be that my wife's grandmother's recipe is different. It is good this way.

    Vulturo: Yes, my wife is from Chennai. You probably thought that there was some reason why I liked India so much!

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 10:39 AM  

  • actually Michael.....moore molagai is not buttermilk at all :-)

    It's just a long, dried, green pepper (chilli, as we call it) processed in a different way....and is a nice dark brown in color.....the green chilli is soaked in buttermilk, and then dried in the sun till its a crunchy dark brown.

    Arisi upma is the goods.....Bangaloreguy...bise bele bath is bise bele bath....(rice, dal, veggies). But yes.....arusi upuma might seem like a distant cousin, with similar ingredients. It's not nearly as wet as bise bele bath, nor does it have nearly as much dal, or the sambhar like taste.

    By Blogger Sunil, at 1:50 PM  

  • Hi Michael,

    I didn't know Arisi meant Rice in Tamil. I am a telugu guy and in Andhra we eat a sweet called Arisi which is made of rice flour( along with sugar, ghee, etc.) -- now I know where the word comes from. The magic of blogging has no limits, I guess, learning about one's own culture through varied sources. I did try substituting almonds for coconuts in the coconut chutney and I thought it was great. One of these days, I might try your upma too.

    By Blogger Ravi, at 2:37 PM  

  • Michael: Been a silent reader for sometime, but this post finally made me comment. Arisi upma's one of my favs, except that my mom used to make a "pressure cooked" version. That is, after doing what you did, when the mix assumes a semi solid consistency, then she rolls into a large "egg" and pressure cooks it.

    Ravi: AFAIK, the etymology of the word rice is from the Tamil "arisi"!

    By Blogger anantha, at 6:07 PM  

  • I am hungry.

    By Anonymous BigDaddy, at 9:58 PM  

  • Fantastic Michael! Sounds positively yummy. Have to ask my mum about this.

    "Don't substitute beach sand". Hee heee. :))

    By Blogger Sujatha, at 8:34 AM  

  • Hi Sunil, Ravi, anti, bigdaddy, and Sujatha
    Sunil: Thanks for the clarification. I haven't seen that particular kind of chili but I'm sure it is good. But I am curious, what would a mixture of upma and buttermilk be like? Surely someone has tried this.

    Hi Ravi: It is interesting how local some recipies are. I would think a lot of people would have heard of Arisi Upma because it really isn't that hard to make and it is delicious.

    Anti: I've heard of people pressure cooking upma before, but I would say that this would ruin one of the best aspects of upma - the crust. When you slow cook the upma in a pot for a half an hour, there is a crust that forms that you can scrap off and eat like chips. It is the best part - by far.

    Here's a tip: let the upma sit without heat for five minutes. It will soften the crust just enough so that you can remove it easily from the pot. Otherwise it can be a real struggle.

    Bigdaddy: Indeed, Upma is great for a big appetite.

    Sujatha: Sure, try it and tell us how it turns out. Hopefully your family will love it just as much as ours (well my son would love it if he would ever try it).

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 5:04 PM  

  • upuma with buttermilk is just fine....i eat it all the time. Or with yogurt (that's a little sour).

    Or with more kozhambu (i'm guessing you know what that is)....which is superb with upuma.

    And i usually make my coconut chutney with buttermilk instead of water.......super tasty.

    By Blogger Sunil, at 5:59 PM  

  • Upma with buttermilk is one of the best combinations ever. Even more sublime if you add a little bit of lemon pickle or mango pickle on the side. We used to hate upma when we were growing up. After we moved to the US that's all we ate during weekends. I'll definitely try your recipe and let you know how it went...

    By Blogger Sujatha, at 10:18 PM  

  • angrezon bharat chodo

    By Blogger Docs Dope, at 2:47 PM  

  • Michael: Another silent reader and first-time commenter to add to the mix :) Sounds positively delicious! Never had an upma with toor dal in it, so can't wait to try this out! I'm from Andhra where we make something called uppindi - a kinda-sorta drier variant of upma, with peanuts, coconut and moong dal, that perhaps comes somewhat close.

    By Anonymous Megha, at 7:01 AM  

  • Not to sound discouraging or anything, but 'arisi upma' is a well known "OB Samayal". As in, when people don't feel like cooking but have to, this is the first option ;)

    And boy! did I go on strike when my mom resorted to this. Anyways, years later as a grad student, I often used my mom's weapon on unsuspecting room mates from other parts of India :))

    By Blogger Nilu, at 11:29 AM  

  • Hi Michael,

    Thx for dropping by my blog. A couple of things, when the mustard seeds start to splutter, it is an indication that you can add the rest of your spices also. You don't have to close the pot or shake it.

    Second, after you have added the spices and the water starts to boil, you add the arisi mixture because the water will absorb the upma. There is no need for you to stir it. You close the pot with a lid and allow the upma to cook.

    C ya

    By Blogger aquamarine, at 12:04 AM  

  • Hi Sunil, Sujatha, Docs Dope, Megha
    Nilu, and Aquamarine

    Sunil: Upma and vendium kozhambu would be excellent. I haven't tried this. Sometimes my wife makes usili this way.

    Sujatha: If we haven't had upma in a long while, it is a treat. If you have it every week, it might get old. Two votes for upma and buttermilk - I'll have to try it.

    Docs: I hope thats good.

    Megha: Hi. I'm sure uppindi is excellent. If it had peanuts, maybe my son would like it, but not my wife. Cannot please everyone.

    Nilu: Hmm, maybe your mom's recipe isn't as good as my wife's mother's recipe. We love it.

    Aquamarine: Hi. Indeed my wife never used to close the pot when adding mustard seeds and ended up sweeping the kitchen floor every time. I wondered why she did that.

    You do have to cook the upma with the lid on - that's true. My wife's mother recipe requires that we "fluff" the upma halfway through. It does come out fluffy.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 9:38 AM  

  • Michael,

    Thanks for a nice discussion on Arisi Uppama. I love Arisi uppama but my wife is not such a big fan of it :(. So I get it only when my mom visits us here in Dallas. Actually I love most of the tamilian Tiffins (usili, arisi uppuma, More (buttermilk) KaLi, Kancheevaram Idli etc.). My mom makes Arisi uppuma in a vengala (I guess Brass) paanai (pot) and she uses coconut oil to give it a special flavor. The brass pot enables the bottom part to become more crispy. Back home my brothers and I would fight to get the crispy part. Finally, Arisi uppuma goes very well with thin buttermilk. Our favorite side dish for Arisi uppuma back home was thengai (coconut) thogaial.

    Thanks again.

    By Blogger vasan, at 4:17 PM  

  • Hi Michael,

    Happen to reach your site....looking for upma recipe

    Can you pls let me know what special ingredient you used



    By Blogger anisa3k, at 10:51 AM  

  • Hi,

    Your recipe of Arisi Upma is exciting. I am gonna try it now. COuld you please tell me what that special ingredient is?

    - Sridhar

    By Blogger Sridhar, at 7:34 PM  

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