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United Kingdom


Our South Indian recipes

Baked Polenta Upma

Neeru Ravi

Upma is as typical as South Indian food gets. Made from store cupboard staples and any fresh veggies in the fridge, it's an anytime, any occasion meal. You'll find it served up for breakfast, packed in tiffin boxes for lunch and even appearing on the menus at weddings. 

It's one of those comforting foods, like pasta with tomato sauce, mashed potato or mac and cheese, which you can whip up in an instant and make you feel warm and cosy.

In our version, we've used polenta instead of cracked wheat which makes this recipe gluten free. Polenta is so naturally creamy that we were also able to cut back on the generous helping of oil which Upma typically requires in order to make it creamy and smooth. 

And to really shake things up we've baked our Upma and made it into succulent rectangles that are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. You might have heard of baked polenta chips - well these are our polenta Upma chips!

To be honest, they were just an experiment to begin with, but they turned out so tasty, that we just had to share! We think they're a weird and wonderful cross between Upma and Dhokla, which is a golden yellow, steamed, chickpea flour cake that originates from North India.

These golden rectangles studded with bright green peas and spec of orange carrots are best served up with a fresh coriander chutney, a creamy coconut chutney or a hot and spicy tomato and onion chutney - and yes we will be sharing recipes for these soon!



Serves: 4

Time: 60-70mins


  • 1 cup coarse polenta 
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water 
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida 
  • 1/8 tsp mustard seeds 
  • 1 inch piece ginger chopped finely 
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • Handful green beans chopped finely 
  • 1 small carrot finely diced 
  • 1/3 cup peas 
  • 1/2 white onion chopped finely 
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 


  1. Lightly toast the polenta on a low heat for 5 mins stirring constantly 
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  3. Heat the oil in a wok. When very hot, add the mustard seeds
  4. When they start to pop, add the asafoetida and onion.
  5. Sautée for a few mins until the onions brown.
  6. Add the ginger and veggies and sauté until almost fully cooked ~ 5- 7 mins
  7. Add the boiling water, salt and chilli flakes to the veggies.
  8. Sieve in the polenta bit by bit and whisk it in vigorously. Make sure it's whisked in fully before adding any more, otherwise it will go lumpy. You may need someone to help with this part - one person sifting and one person whisking (Neeru tried doing both simultaneously and although she managed it, it was tricky!) Keep going until all the polenta is added and whisked in - it's a great workout for your arms ;)
  9. Spread out evenly on a baking tray (about 1/2 in thick)  and bake for 20 mins.
  10. Turn on the grill and bake for a further 5-10 mins until crispy on top.

Serve up hot with a dollop of chutney.