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Savory Indian-Style Oats (Oats Upma)

Savory Indian-Style Oats (Oats Upma) 2.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post

Nov 30, 2018

This South Indian porridge is typically made with semolina (sooji) and eaten for breakfast and as a snack. The flavorful seasonings of black mustard seed, fresh curry leaves and ginger also take well to oats.

You can make this with dried steel-cut oats and 3 cups of water; they'll take about 13 minutes to cook.

The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon of urad dal and 1/2 teaspoon of roasted chana dal (both available at Indian markets). If desired, add the urad dal after the mustard seed begins to sputter, then cook for a few minutes before proceeding with the recipe; add the roasted chana dal when you add the cashews and raisins.

To read the accompanying story, see: Your takeout grain bowl has nothing on these creamy, savory oats.

Where to Buy: Curry leaves are available at Indian markets, Mom's Organic Markets and online. Black and brown mustard seeds are available from well-stocked groceries stores, spice stores, Indian markets and online.

2 - 3

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-3 servings; makes about 2 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seed (see headnote)
  • 3 fresh curry leaves (see headnote)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled, minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 ounces; from about 2 lobes)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots (1 1/4 ounces; from 1 small, scrubbed carrot)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh green beans (1 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted, chopped cashews (salted or unsalted)
  • 1 tablespoon golden raisins (may substitute dried cranberries)
  • 1 cup dried rolled oats (do not use instant; may also use steel-cut, see headnote)
  • 2 cups water (see headnote)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
  • Lemon wedge, for serving (optional)


Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seed; as soon as it starts to pop and sputter, add the curry leaves and reduce the heat to low (the spices will continue to spit and pop). Add the turmeric and ginger; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, then add the shallots, carrots and green beans. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots have softened.

Add the cashews, raisins and oats. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oats are lightly toasted and the mix smells quite fragrant.

Add the water and salt. Cook, uncovered, for about 9 minutes, stirring often, until the water has mostly evaporated and the vegetables are tender. Squeeze with a little fresh lemon juice, if using. Taste and add more salt, as needed.

Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

Based on a recipe from Washington chef-restaurateur K.N. Vinod.

Tested by Kara Elder.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 3, using salted cashews): 240

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 13g 20%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 200mg 8%

Total Carbohydrates: 28g 9%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 6g

Protein: 5g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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