Semolina Pilaf (Upuma) with Cashews and Raisins

1 February 2019 By

I have rather fond childhood memories of Semolina Pilaf (Upuma) which works well as a savoury brekkie, brunch or light dinner. Most South Indians enjoy it with a couple of variations. Sometimes I add lots of fresh diced veggies such as green beans, carrots, cauliflowers and peas at Stage 3 along with the sliced chillies and serve it for lunch or dinner. You can also omit the milk and just use water or even opt to go with 3 cups fresh milk. It takes a bit of practice to get a fluffy Upuma, but it’s well worth the effort.

Semolina Pilaf Upuma

Ingredients - Serves 6

  • 3 cups coarse semolina – roasted for 10 minutes on low heat
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 3-4 red chillies, broken up
  • 1 tbsp urud dahl
  • 2-3 sprigs curry leaves, torn
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, finely grated
  • 1 green and 1 red chilli, sliced in rings
  • 3-4 tbsp raisins
  • 2½ cups boiling water + 2 cups warmed fresh milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp ghee or butter

Sprinkle over as a garnish

  • 3-4 tbsp roasted cashew nuts
  • Chopped coriander
  • Raw sugar


  1. Heat oil in a large wok, add mustard seeds, allow to pop, then add in the dried chillies, urud dahl and crushed curry leaves. Fry until fragrant and the dahl has turned golden brown.
  2. Next, add in the onions, ginger and sliced fresh chillies. Fry gently on low flame until onion and ginger caramelises. Add raisins and mix well.
  3. Pour in the boiling water plus warm milk and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Then turn the flame low, and slowly add in the roasted semolina and continue to mix constantly for 5 minutes or more to avoid any large clumps of uncooked raw semolina. Add ghee all over and continue to stir the mixture very well until all the liquid is absorbed and the resulting semolina is soft, dry and fluffy, with a small, ball-like texture. This can take a few minutes of work!
  4. Garnish with roasted nuts and chopped coriander leaves. Delightful eaten with a sprinkle of raw sugar!