Upma with Pearl Millet

Millet Upma

Millet Upma

This was one of those dishes I threw together in 10 minutes because I was hungry and had leftover cooked pearl millet. It was an unexpected treat. Famished as I was, I realized I should probably take a couple of pictures before I ate it all up. So here they are along with a recipe.

If you’ve never cooked with whole pearl millets before, run to the grocery store, now and get your self some! It is that awesome. We eat millet instead of rice often. I first ate cooked whole pearl millets while visiting my in-laws. My MIL makes a very delicious crust-less pie with whole millets and slices of pears all baked together and served with apple compote.

What are millets? Millet is a collective term for tiny seeds from various grasses that are not even related to each other. They are used as grains and are typically highly nutritious, more so than wheat or rice. I use pearl millets as they are easily available in Seattle. There are however many kinds of millets. In South India, finger millets are widely used and I’ve shared a delicious rustic flat bread recipe before.

I’m calling this dish Upma though it’s a lot simpler than the real deal South Indian uppitu or upma. I’ve eliminated a lot of the typical upma ingredients such as onion and grated coconut and used millets instead of semolina because of my food issues. You are welcome to add those ingredients back in or follow my recipe as is. It will be delicious either way. Pearl millets are also a great gluten free substitute for couscous.

I would recommend serving this millet upma with a side of plain yogurt and spicy pickle. It’s perfect as a snack, savory breakfast or light lunch.

This recipe is vegan and gluten, onion and garlic free. It’s a FODMAP friendly recipe.

Millet Upma

  • 2 cups cooked millets, room temperature or refrigerated
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilis, broken in half
  • 1 teaspoon urud dal (split black lentils, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds (optional, I added some for nutrition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup cashews, roasted (or almonds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or to taste


Heat the oil over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, add a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.Sizzle the mustard seeds and curry leaves for ten seconds or till the seeds start popping. Saute the dry red chilis, urud dal and flax seeds for another 10 seconds.

Add the turmeric powder and stir in the millets and cashews. Add salt and squeeze fresh lime juice to taste. Serve with a side of yogurt if you can eat dairy.

Liked this recipe? Here’s another gluten free version of the Upma recipe.

delicious savory pearl millets

Savory “curried” pearl millets


Filed under India, Recipe

2 responses to “Upma with Pearl Millet

  1. I wish I had found you sooner, and I wish you posted as much as you did in the past! You must be constantly busy now though because you’re so famous!!

  2. Poonam

    Veena, it is clear that you live in the USA. Which millet do you use? Is it the white (the pale beige) pearl/hulles millet that’s available in the supermarket? & how do you cook it? I have always been curious about it but have never attempted to cook it. I am familiar only with the Indian Bajra ki Khichdi from UP. Please do tell me. I have it in my patry but have used it oly to sprinlke it in the bread before I bake it. Thanks. I just stumbled upon this site while researching cooking with mustard oil…I stil do…even here…Ever tried adding a little salt to the oil when heating it? I heat a whole bottle with a couple of teaspoons of salt till it smokes. Then I cool & rebottle it. Saves the step when using for cooking, & takes the edge off the pungecy. without compromising on the taste. I gave up using it afte I got married, as the local oil in y inlaws area was peanut, which we brought fresh crushed, or “extra virgin” as the current hep lingo lables it…Now that my husband is no more, I have gone back to using it. & even my son, who is a chef, uses it for his own cooking.He is some one who just switched to it recently, but did not have ant trouble cooking with it or eating it. No, he hasn’t lived with me for the past 12 years, & yes he does come home from work & cooks forhimself…:)

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