Cornbread Upma

A south Indian twist to a Southern Classic

I am a self proclaimed upma fanatic, but with a small catch. I enjoy them fresh and hot from the stove but cannot eat them as leftovers…duh…yup ! I believe the texture changes and with it also changes its taste. So whatever ingredient is used to make upma, I just have one desperate need, it has to be made fresh and eaten right away. Sounds doable right? After all an upma is made when time is tight !

Upma is a very easy and quick to make food that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, best for brunch and even awesome for an early dinner. The main ingredient of the upma usually decides the time of the day it is served and also the region of India where they are made. Like parathas for example, in Northern India it is common to eat them for breakfast whereas I grew up eating them for either tiffin or dinner in the south. Similarly, a Poha Upma in Maharashtra is eaten at breakfast while I grew up eating Aval (poha) Upma for tiffin or an early supper. Fascinating !

Upma is made from varied ingredients such as wheat rava (farina), rice rava, cracked wheat, tapioca pearls, vermicelli and sometimes even from flour such as rice flour, ragi flour, millet flours, etc.,. In the modern interpretations of this classic, we make upma from leftover breads, rotis, quinoa, etc.,. A myriad of veggies can be added to boost flavor and make it more wholesome. Make it as spicy as you can take it, but I highly recommend you enjoy it when its hot off the stove !

The idea of using cornbread came from watching Ree Drummond’s show Pioneer Woman on Food Network. She was making panzanella with a day old cornbread. It looked so yummy I decided to bake some cornbread the day before and make panzanella for dinner the following evening. Like always, plans changed based on cravings ! Cold winter mornings call for warm breakfast and it was a weekend. I was craving some hot upma and when I spotted this in the refrigerator, I knew it was cornbread upma on the menu that morning, for brunch ! I added cabbage, green bell peppers and some corn kernels and they went so beautifully with the cornbread.

Recipe : Cornbread Upma

Prep Time : 15 minutes Cook time : 20 minutes
Serves – 2 to 3Spice Level : 🌶🌶

Ingredients :

Check Notes for variations/tips

  1. Cornbread : chopped into bite sized cubes – 2 cups
  2. Chopped cabbage – 1/2 cup
  3. Chopped green pepper – 1/2 cup
  4. Corn kernels – 1/4 cup
  5. Chopped onion – 1/4 cup
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  8. Cayenne – 1/4 teaspoon
  9. Lemon juice – 1/2 teaspoon
For tempering :
  1. Oil as needed
  2. Black mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  3. Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  4. Curry leaves – 4 or 5
  5. Chopped green chilis – 2 or to taste
  6. Asafoetida – 1/8 teaspoon or use 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

How To :

  • Heat a skillet on medium high, add a tablespoon of light olive oil or any oil of choice.
  • Add the mustard seeds, let them crackle and then add the cumin seeds, let toast for 20 seconds.
  • Next add the chopped chilis, curry leaves and the asafoetida.
  • Add the chopped onions and saute well. Add a pinch of salt and let the onions sweat and turn translucent.
  • Now add the chopped peppers and cabbage and the turmeric powder. Mix thoroughly, add salt to taste and mix well.
  • Cover and let cook for a minute or 2. Cook the veggies to a texture you like, we like it with a bite so I cook them for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Remove lid, add the corn kernels, cayenne and mix well. Let it cook for a minute.
  • Now add the chopped cornbread and mix well. Check for seasoning.
  • If you like a nicely toasted cornbread texture, lower the heat and let the skillet sit on low heat for 4 to 5 minutes. That will caramelize the bread pieces a bit. Toss them around every 2 minutes for uniform browning. Do not cover the skillet. Turn off heat and remove the skillet from the stove.
  • Drizzle the lemon juice and mix well. Serve hot / warm with some yogurt or any dipping sauce of choice.


  • I made corn bread according to the package instructions on my mix, but used yogurt instead of eggs and white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.
  • I chopped up some picked jalapeños and added to my cornbread mixture while baking.
  • Use any bread you have on hand. Old bread makes for a great upma.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon or 2 of water if bread is too dry and mix well, the add to the skillet.
  • Use any veggies you like in this recipe.
  • You can skip mustard seeds if you do not have any.
  • Add some finely chopped cilantro or any herb of choice in the end for some added flavor.

As always, make it your own and enjoy! Thank you for stopping by :)!

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