Masala Tomato Upma Recipe | Spicy Masala Upma
Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Santosh Allada
Masala Tomato Upma Recipe is a spicy twist to the basic tomato upma. It is a simple and tasty breakfast recipe that can be made in a jiffy. Now, it’s one of my favorite things to make for breakfast or a light dinner.
Upma is one of the staple food in South Indian homes. But, many hate upma and feel like a battle to finish to it. The common reason to dislike upma is its texture and bland taste.
I liked upma since my childhood and would enjoy it with sugar. I have grown up eating other upma variations like semiya upma, godhuma rava (wheat rava) upma. Thanks to my mom who makes good upma.
What is Masala Tomato Upma?
Amongst the upma varieties, Masala Tomato Upma is full-on flavors from tomatoes and spices. As the name says, it’s a spicy variation of tomato upma.
In the South Indian states, tomato upma has different names like tomato bath and khara bath. A difference between the two is that khara bath is a dish native to Karnataka and its spicy and consistency is quite runny.
A basic Tomato Upma tastes delicious on its own. But I wanted to try flavorful combinations to make it more tasty and flavorful. Eventually, I decided to add some whole spices and spice powder.
The traditional tomato upma has no whole spices. I was expecting the twist to ruin the taste, but I must say I really loved the masala tomato upma.
There are dozen of popular Indian herbs and spices that elevate natural flavors and makes a dish more dynamic. This means there are endless options for getting creative with tomato upma.
I experimented with a few herbs and spices when preparing tomato upma and I have mentioned the same in the recipe.
About Masala Tomato Upma Recipe
Masala Tomato Upma is a thick, soft, mildly spices, and tangy porridge made using semolina (rava, sooji, or bombay rava), tomatoes, herbs, and a few more simple ingredients.
This masala tomato upma recipe will give you mildly spiced and soft textured upma.
Across homes and tiffin centers (quick eateries) in South India, has a different tomato upma recipe. Although the ingredients are almost the same, the consistency of the upma makes a big difference.
The recipe can be scaled (doubled or tripled) as per your needs. Just adjust the ingredients, and the time of cooking will remain almost the same.
After a lot of attempts, I realized that the perfect upma texture relies on two important factors;
1. Roasting the rava
2. Right semolina to water ratio
What is the Right Semolina to Water Ratio?
The trick to making the perfect upma depends solely on how much water you add to the rava. Too much water will turn into a goopy mess, too less and you’ll be eating unevenly cooked chunks of upma.
After using different brands of bombay rava, I noticed that the right ratio depends on the type/quality of sooji and the consistency of the upma you prefer – dry yet soft, softer and melt-in-mouth, or runny.
I have personally tried three different upma rava and water ratios – 1:2, 1:2.5, and 1:3.
1:2 gives a dry yet soft texture.
1:2.5 gives a softer and melt-in-mouth texture.
1:3 gives a runny texture, similar to a porridge-like consistency.
Reasons to make
Simple and super easy
Bachelor and beginner friendly
A quick meal option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Delicious and healthy
Go-to breakfast meal
Upma is very easy to make but easier to break too. During my attempts, I have learned many tips which helped me make a good Masala Tomato Upma. Sharing the same below, follow them to the T and make the best fluffy and non-sticky masala tomato upma in a jiffy.
Dry roasting the rava is mandatory for the perfect tomato upma at home. This will not only help to get rid of the moisture but also ensures that the upma is perfectly fluffy and non-sticky.
Roast the rava on low flame only for a few minutes until moisture is evaporated. Do not let the color of the sooji change. Also, do not leave the roasted sooji in the pan the residual heat will continue to cook the sooji and the color may change. Transfer the roasted sooji to another bowl.
Always add roasted rava to hot water. Adding rava to cold water can make the upma gooey.
Whole spices may sound unusual in this recipe but they give amazing flavors to the Masala Tomato Upma.
Use oil to make the tomato upma and add ghee at the end as it lends a very nice aroma and flavor to the final dish.
A few ingredients are a must while making any variety of upma – mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, urad dal, chana dal, and green chilies that give a distinct characteristic flavor that depicts a true South Indian flavor.
If you do not have any dietary restrictions, be a bit liberal with ghee and oil for a softer and tastier masala tomato upma. The extra fat will also prevent it from getting dry as it cools. This is a secret of upma in restaurants.
Semolina: Semolina is also called sooji or rava in Hindi. It comes in multiple thicknesses. To make masala tomato upma, I prefer using coarser rava instead of chiroti rava which is a finer grade of semolina.
Traditionally tomato upma is made using rava, commonly known as bombay rava or upma rava.
Vegetables: Onions and tomatoes.
Select plump, ripe, vibrant red color, firm, and blemish-free skin tomatoes to make tomato upma.
Whole spices: cloves, cinnamon stick, and green cardamom.
Fat: You will need some fat to make the upma. I highly recommend using both, oil and ghee.
Tempering: oil, mustard seeds, cumin, peanuts, lentils (split bengal gram and split black gram), curry leaves.
Spice powders: turmeric powder, red chili powder, and garam masala.
Herbs: mint leaves and coriander leaves.
Water to cook the upma.
How to make Masala Tomato Upma
Chop a small onion, 2 green chilies, and 2 medium tomatoes.
Gather the remaining ingredients.
Roast the Rava
1. Heat pan on low flame. Add 1 cup of bombay rava and fry stirring continuously.
2. Fry the rava until the grains are fragrant, look dry, each grain is separate, crunchy, and just starting to change color. This process can take 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to change the color.
The roasting time will vary depending on the quality of rava, the thickness of the pan, and flame intensity.
3. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool.
Wipe the pan with a paper or kitchen towel to get rid of any rava sticking to it.
Make the Masala Tomato Upma
4. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan over medium flame.
5. When hot, reduce the flame to low and add the following ingredients
- 2 cloves
- 1inch cinnamon stick
- 1-2 green cardamom
- 1tbsp peanuts
- 1tsp cumin
- 1tsp mustard seeds
- 1tsp chana dal
- 1tsp urad dal
Saute until the dal starts to change color.
6 & 7. Add 2 to 3 roughly chopped green chilies. Next, add curry leaves and saute until the leaves turn crisp.
8. Then add 1 chopped onion. Saute for just 1-2 minutes, until the onions turn soft. Do not let the onion change color.
9. Add tomato and saute until soft.
10 & 11. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, salt to taste, and 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Saute for 5 seconds.
12. Add mint leaves and fry for 5 seconds.
13 & 14. Turn the flame to high and add 2.5 cups of water.
15. Let it come to a rolling boil. Taste the water for seasoning. The water should be slightly salty, the rava will absorb salt only while cooking. If needed add more salt as per your liking.
16. Reduce the flame to low and pour the roasted sooji in a slow stream with one hand and keep mixing (preferably in one direction) with the other hand. This incorporates the rava well into the water and prevents the formation of lumps.
17. Keep mixing until all the water is absorbed and the porridge thickens. At this moment be careful as it begins to splash.
18 & 19. Add 1 tbsp of ghee, sprinkle 1/4 tsp of garam masala, and 1 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves.
20. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for exactly 3 minutes. Turn off the flame and rest for 5 minutes with the lid on. The rest time allows the moisture to settle down and helps to achieve optimum texture.
21 & 22. Open and stir the upma.
Masala Tomato Upma is ready. Serve it warm with your favorite chutney.
Personally, my favorite is with a serving of curd and allam chutney (ginger pickle).
Serve it to the kids or toddlers with sugar.
Any variety of upma tastes best when served fresh and tomato masala upma is no exception. In case you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container for about 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Before serving, reheat in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop. Refrigerating tends to dry the upma, so while reheating add a little water and mix well.
You can roast the whole pack of upma rava beforehand, cool it completely, and store it in an airtight container. This step increases the shelf life of semolina. Also, with pre-roasted rava making upma is a breeze during busy days.
You can totally skip the whole spices and make a basic tomato upma.
Add cashews to the tempering and saute until light golden color.
Ginger is also a great option in upma. Add finely chopped ginger to the tempering.
To increase the nutritional value, you can add vegetables like carrots, beans, peas, potatoes, sweet corn, etc. Add them after step 8 and saute until half cooked.
You can substitute the garam masala with bisi bele bath powder or vangi bath powder.
If you’ve tried this differently delicious Masala Tomato Upma Recipe, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.
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Masala Tomato Upma Recipe | Tomato Upma
- 1 cup Semolina (bombay rava)
- 3-4 tbsp Oil
- 2 numbers Cloves
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- 1-2 Green cardamom (optional)
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Urad dal
- 1 tsp Chana dal
- 1 tbsp Peanuts
- 2-3 numbers Green chilies (as per your spice preference)
- 5-7 numbers Curry leaves
- 1 small Onion (roughly chopped)
- 2 medium Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp Red chili powder
- 2.5 cups Water
- 1 tbsp Ghee
- 1/4 tsp Garam masala
- 1 tbsp Coriander leaves
Roast the Rava
- Heat pan on low flame. Add 1 cup of bombay rava and fry stirring continuously.
- Fry until the rava grains are fragrant, look dry, each grain is separate and crunchy. This process can take 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to change the color.
- Transfer it to a plate and let it cool. Wipe the pan with a paper or kitchen towel to get rid of any rava sticking to it.
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan over medium flame.
- When hot, reduce the flame to low and add the following ingredients – cloves, cinnamon stick, green cardamom, peanuts, cumin, mustard seeds, chana dal, urad dal. Saute until the dal starts to change color.
- Add 2 to 3 roughly chopped green chilies. Next, add curry leaves and saute until the leaves turn crisp.
- Then add 1 chopped onion. Saute for just 1-2 minutes, until the onions turn soft. Do not let the onion change color.
- Add chopped tomatoes and saute until soft.
- Add turmeric powder, salt to taste, and red chili powder. Saute for 5 seconds.
- Add mint leaves and fry for 5 seconds.
- Turn the flame to high and add 2.5 cups of water. Let it come to a rolling boil. Taste the water for seasoning. The water should be slightly salty, the rava will absorb salt only while cooking. If needed add more salt as per your liking.
- Reduce the flame to low and pour the roasted sooji in a slow stream with one hand and keep mixing (preferably in one direction) with the other hand. This incorporates the rava well into the water and prevents the formation of lumps.
- Keep mixing until all the water is absorbed and the porridge thickens. At this moment be careful as it begins to splash.
- Add ghee, sprinkle 1/4 tsp of garam masala, and chopped coriander leaves.
- Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for exactly 3 minutes. Turn off the flame and rest for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Open and stir the upma.
- Masala Tomato Upma is ready. Serve it warm with your favorite chutney.