Arisi Upma’s yet another beautiful albeit lesser-known feather in the Iyer Samayal (SouthIndian) culinary hat. Typically Upma is made using Semolina or Rava. However, this hearty dish is made with pounded rice and lentils. Toor dal is soaked and ground coarsely along with green chillies and hing/perungayam/asafoetida. Rice is powdered. Mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves are tempered in coconut oil. Water is added along with the toor dal paste. When the water comes to a boil, powdered rice is added along with salt and cooked on low heat with a lid on.

The beauty of this dish lies in the crust. Once the water has been absorbed and the upma cooked, the heat is further turned down and the upma sits in this low heat for another 5 minutes or so until it forms that beautiful crunchy crust. A much sought after portion of the dish.

Arisi upma is typically served with leftover rasam, Molagapodi, pickle, curd or chutney.

I’ve used white Sona Masoori rice here but you could use any native variety of rice to make this. Avoid using aromatic rice like Basmati or Jeeraga Samba Rice. If you intend using brown rice or red rice, it’d serve you well to soak the rice for a few hours, drain the water and then make the rice powder. Also, you may need to add more water than the ratio mentioned in the recipe.



  1. Sona Masoori Rice – 1 cup
  2. Toor Dal/Pigeon Peas – 1/4 cup
  3. Green chillies – 2 to 4 nos
  4. Hing – 1/8 tsp
  5. Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
  6. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Urad dal – 1 tsp
  8. Curry leaves – a few
  9. Grated Coconut – 1/4 cup
  10. Water – 3.5 cups
  11. Salt – 1 tsp


  1. Soak Toor dal in hot water for at least 15 mins.
  2. In the meantime, grind rice into a powder in a blender. Keep aside. You could also wash rice, dry it on a cloth and then powder the rice
  3. Drain the water from the toor dal. Grind along with the green chillies and hing into a coarse paste. I’ve used 2 here, but you could use up to 4
  4. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds and when it splutters, add the urad dal and then the curry leaves
  5. Add the water and the ground toor dal paste. Bring it to a boil
  6. Once the water has come to a roaring boil, slowly trickle the powdered rice into the water while simultaneously stirring vigorously
  7. Turn the heat down to medium-low, put a lid on and wait for the water to be absorbed. About 5 -6 mins
  8. At this point, turn the heat down to low and let the upma sit in this heat for another 5 -6 mins. Keep the lid on
  9. Turn off the heat and you could garnish with coconut and serve immediately. Or if you’re like me, then let it rest for another 5 mins which will guarantee that glorious crust. And then garnish with grated coconut, mix well and serve.

This dish will pair really well with Carrot Chutney

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