Arisi Upma


Now if you are wondering why on earth I keep on posting just rice dishes and look like I live in the 17th century, and you ask me that Q, as usual I have a long story to tell. Did I mention that they used to call me BBC in high school :)

All was well in our paradise and just a few months ago, N suddenly became allergic to consuming Gluten.He came back from his trip to Europe and could not even eat one whole chappati. I swear it was not because of my cooking :) Finally we realized that he was allergic to gluten and we (yes, we) stopped consuming products containing gluten for sometime. That means no poori(sob sob), no maida, no pizzas, no pasta, no rava, no vermicelli etc etc., The allergic reaction came suddenly and now its gone. We dont know how it happened and we are just glad that that tough phase is over now.

Those 4-6 months was a real test for me in the kitchen. Usually we can dump cereal in a bowl of milk, gulp it and start the morning routine. But then cereal and bread are also made of gluten. So we had to search for gluten free products and I even baked our own bread at home with gluten free flour. Wholefoods market was our life savior during those times as they sold special gluten free cereal and flour. Then came the big Q. Whats for dinner? That was the time when I started making more of traditional Indian recipes as a substitute for all other gluten-foods. As it is we are vegetarians and what to do if something like this comes up?

Thankfully Indian cooking has got lots of recipes like Idli, Dosa,adai, Pongal, Arisi upma, Idiyappam, Khichdi which can be made with just rice. I learnt lots of recipes from amma and my aunts which are made just using rice, the recipes they had before pizzahut and pasta mania took over.

But when N was on a tour, finding gluten free food was a major issue. That prompted me to learn how to make instant powders like coconut rice powder. Have you ever heard of anyone sitting in a hotel in Las vegas(of all places) and cooking instant rice and mixing it with the coconut rice powder to make coconut rice? Thats me :)

It was a tough time  overall because N likes pani puri/ phulka with some Gravies, samosa. But the puri in pani puri had wheat/rava, and what we used to do was to make some rice dish like panner fried rice or methi rice and have it with a gravy like chana masala or kofta so that our vegetable intake was more than the carbs.

One of our saviors during those times was arisi upma. Arisi upma is a very simple recipe and can be made for dinner or breakfast. I used to make arisi upma with vegetables or a gravy with vegetables to go with the upma.  Arisi upma is also the base for another recipe- the arisi kozhukatti or pidi kozhukattai.

Ingredients (Serves-2)

Rice – 1.25 cups

Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp

Grated coconut- 4 tbsp

Red chilies-2

More-milakai (yogurt chilies)-2

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Curry leaves- a few

Asafoetida- 1 pinch

Oil- 1 tbsp

Salt- to taste

Water- 3 or 4 cups


Sprinkle rice with some water, just a tbsp or so and mix well. It should be done in such a way that rice is slightly wet but not soaked through. Keep aside for 5 minutes.


Heat oil in a pot and add asafoetida and mustard seeds. When they splutter, add cumin seeds, chana dal, curry leaves, the chilies and stir fry for a minute. Add the coconut and just stir once. Add about 3 cups of water, salt to taste, cover and let it boil.

Now back to the rice. The rice should be slightly dry now and should have absorbed all the water. Pulse it using a blender so that it is not a powder like rice flour, but coarse and smaller in size than a grain of rice. Say, almost to the size of mustard seeds. You can also sieve the finer particles out but I just use everything, coarse and fine.


When the water is boiling, reduce the flame to a low-medium and slowly add the rice and keep stirring to avoid any lumps. Cover and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. Make sure that there is enough water to cook the rice, but not so much that the upma will be mushy or so less that it will be dry and uncooked. If you have to add any water, add some warm water as that will quicken up the cooking process.

Check if rice is cooked through. Mix well and serve hot with pickles or chutneys. I like to have it with mango pickle.

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6 Comments to “Arisi Upma”

  1. Cham says:

    I imagine how life will be without wheat! Granny signature dish! Good one :)

  2. ruchikacook says:

    Thanks cham. N literally sobs if I offer to make upma now a days :)
    He even offers to make something for me if I suggest these old recipes :) Nice trick nah?

  3. Divya Vikram says:

    Delicious n quick Indian Breakfast!

  4. ruchikacook says:

    Yup! and a life saver too at times :)

  5. poornima says:

    Thanks! My 7 yrold daughter is Gluten-free and I’ ve been looking for a GF Upama recipe!

  6. Lavanya says:

    Hi Ruchika,
    Can i use Idli rava (Cream of Rice) for this recipe?

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