Upma is a popular recipe in Southern India made of Semolina/Cracked Wheat/Cream of Wheat/Suji – known as Godhum in Sanskrit. Suji comes in 3 sizes: Fine, Course and Upma which is a mid-grade. Cream of Wheat is finer than Upma grade.
Wheat is a superfood when cooked in an Ayurvedic way. Must dry roast the wheat to add ushna (hot) and laghu (light) guna (qualities) to the wheat.

Wheat has gotten a bad rap due to false research that has now been proven to be false by the same guy that discovered gluten sensitivity. He has completed 3 research projects that has conclusively proven gluten intolerance to be incorrect. What does this say about the 30% of Americans and the 15 billion dollar business that has been created off of this popular fad?
The “easy to understand from an Ayurvedic standpoint” story explains it all. If your digestion is really garbage for a very long time and you continue to eat poorly and heavy foods that don’t digest, you body develops allergies to those heavy foods and/or the foods that aggravate the doshic imbalance that the come out in the weak tissue and corresponding srotas affected. It is really just that easy. This is the same that i have been saying for years before the gluten intolerance even raised its ugly head. We do not have any concept of heavy or light qualities and how they digest, we do not have any discernable way to see digestive capacity of an individual, and we do not have any way to diagnose digestion beyond you eat heavy nutrient dense foods because they are healthy for you. Kinda shines some light on things, doesn’t it?
Think of what eating gooey bread is quality wise? Heavy. Hard to digest. Americans seem pulled to all the foods that are this way because they feed the desires and make you feel good. Says plenty. Eat by the tongue and you will have a short and unhappy life.

Godhum is Madhur (sweet) Rasa, it pacifies Pitta and Vata and can increase Kapha.
Rice is laghu (light), and therefore not a best friend to Vayu, plus adds more Aap (water) to Kapha than godhum does.
Wheat however is guru (heavy), so is better for Vayu. It has more Parthiv, so good for mansa (muscle), asthi (bone), and shukra (reproductive) dhatus (tissues). Known as an aphrodisiac. (Another better aphrodisiac is dates because they also help with spermatogenesis)
In the Punjab, they eat more wheat than in the south where they eat more rice. Punjabis have more ojas, are more solid and muscular than southern Indians.

Roasting Wheat – Can dry roast wheat and store bottled at room temperature in a glass jar on the counter. Dry roasting lessens kleda (moisture) in the grain so it doesn’t attract bugs or mold. Must roast wheat to add ushna and laghu. You can roast and keep for 2-3 weeks.
To dry roast wheat, cook on medium heat. Cook until it smells fragrant like popcorn and toast.
Wheat is stoutening – it densifies bones and muscles. Warrior food. Balakala – give bala (strength) to the system. Jivanaya – food that gives you life. When you take wheat in, broken parts get healed – fractures etc.

Wheat is Pachaka (digestive) – ok for Vata,Pitta and Kapha. Nourishment for Vata and Pitta.
It has a special function to connect broken pieces- even muscles with tears.
Wheat is used in special Ladhus for post-delivery recovery

Godhum – Even though it is increasing, the way we cook it affects whether Kapha increasing or not – can be used in weight management. (really see here that the actions done to a substance will change how the body can digest it as well as the qualities it bestows)
If you are “wheat intolerant”, work on improving your agni, then you can eat wheat after slowly acclimating a couple teaspoons at a time.

Yellow mustard – not as hot, but still has Pachaka quality.
Black mustard – slightly more hot with Pachaka quality.

To make Upma
1. Boil water in big pot
2. In separate pan, heat a little ghee, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, onion. Don’t need a lot of ghee because it will be mainly boiled. Cook until onion nearly translucent, then add carrots and peas. If using frozen peas (not ideal at all), thaw and drain before adding. (never place a frozen food into a hot pan or with other hot and cooked substances) Peas are especially good for Pitta and Kapha, but ok for Vata as well.
3. When the vegetables are lightly cooked, add boiling water to them – enough to cover the vegetables plus ½ knuckles of water above the vegetables. Too much water will make the dish like a soggy halwa with vegetables. The right amount of water will make it like a firm rice.
4. Bring to a boil, then add Godhum slowly while stirring. When it comes back to a boil, turn off and cover. The godhum will soak up the rest of the water. Because we roasted the wheat before hand, the wheat becomes “hungry” and soaks up the water.
5. Serve once the godhum has soaked up all the water.
* Note: it’s better to add to little water and then be able to add more if necessary, than to add to much water at the beginning.

Qualities = Madhura (sweet), Shita (cold), Snigdha (oily), not heating. Even Pitta needs some spices to support their agni.

Don’t add tomato (aggravates Pitta) or excessive ghee (aggravates Kapha) or Cauliflower (aggravates Vata) or Chilis (aggravates Pitta).

This dish is good for all doshas or tridoshic as it is called, but you could also add some other spices for additional digestibility. Adding a dash of lemon when serving (never cook lemon), can help digestion, because this dish is Guru (heavy). It is even good for Kapha and Vata, as it is not atisheeta (excessively cooling). The recipe is less aap than it is parthiv.

Rochaka – gives the desire to eat something. Appetizing foods.


13 thoughts on “Upma

    • Great question. I personally buy upma/suji (wheat) at the indian markets. Products from India. Are they better? Well, that is a hard one to say. Since the food in the US is such a big deal and the laws on what is organic are to the bend that organic is not really organic, what to do? I actually trust indian products more than the US products. They almost always taste healthier and produce better end products. Why is this? I could go into several reasons why I might have the experience of this but all would be subjective. When I am in India, my experience of the food, say upma, is way healthier than what I can make in the US with US products. When I make upma from suji purchased at an indian grocer, it comes out as a better end product, tastes better and digests much easier. This is all I can go off of. Unfortunately, the age that we are in, in America it is very hard to be able to buy a local grain and have it milled fresh.
      Hope that helps.
      I guess the last thing I would add is to watch out for all the additives and perservatives in the Indian products but the suji should not have any. Also do not buy the already toasted suji as it normally has palm oil or another oil in it.

  1. I am cooking this tomorrow, only with wheat. I’ve added fenugreek seed, cumin seeds and, ginger. I’ll add cilantro afterwards. This sounds delicious so I will undoubtedly be adding a few other spices you have recommended on other posts.

    Would it be okay to keep the tempering ingredients in a container overnight?

  2. Quick question about the peanuts. I use blanched raw right now. I don’t seem to be having issues but this dish does make me very slightly gassy. Would it be ideal to roast these prior to cooking?

  3. Hello. Thank you for all this information. Can this dish still retain its tridoshic quality if we add a few cumin seeds & roasted peanuts, pinch of asafoetida, one chillie, ginger, little salt and sugar?

    • Hi.
      Yes, that sounds all good. I would not go so far as one whole chili but it also depends on season and everything. Say, if you are in India right now, Pitta is at its highest and treatments are going on for pitta due to this. The season is not one to be having excess katu rasa.
      If one is accustomed to it though, it is not going to effect as much. Say in a different country where they do not have upma like that but instead have a breakfast cereal of the same fashion like a thin Kshira, and their digestion as well as system is not used to having such katu type of foods, the amount of katu in the items you have added would send them over the edge. Number one their systems are not used to that type of food so it would not be satmya to their systems.
      Get the idea?
      Ayurveda is not at all one recipe to be followed all year around. Everything in Ayurveda is to understand the foundations and then using it constantly every moment of every day and every month and every season as well as ones age and understanding substances and their karmas and gunas as well as being able to see those same things in the desha where someone is. And then thrown in lastly is understanding ones own balance and consistently living towards that as well.

      So, please answer me your own question.
      Can this dish still retain its tridoshic quality if we add a few cumin seeds & roasted peanuts, pinch of asafoetida, one chillie, ginger, little salt and sugar?

    • A big NO, in my opinion. As you mentioned, godhum is vata-pitta pacifier and adding the above pungent spices will cancel out the dish’s very own quality. Seasonally, excess katu rasa is prohibited in autumn, even though in India, we are accustomed to these daily-used spices. And finally, with my current understanding of my own balance, it will do more harm than good.
      Thank you.

    • Yes, upma is fine for pitta dosha. Upma is generally made of wheat which is not heating. Be careful of the single dosha stuff being passed around. there is none, they a weakly and die early…… as per Charaka……..

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