Quinoa Upma: A High Protein, Healthy Breakfast In 10 Minutes

Quinoa is a recent addition to the Indian palate, and particularly endorsed by the weight loss and wellness industry. Unlike usually believed, Quinoa is not a grain but the fruit of a plant from the Andes in South America. It originated in the region around Lake Titicaca in Peru. Quinoa Upma is the Indianised version of the the Indian origin Rava Upma, made in the South Indian kitchens for centuries. The combining of Quinoa as an ingredient prepared in the style of Upma has now led to a dish Quinoa Upma which is now a high protein, healthy breakfast that can be rustled up in less than 10 minutes.

The humble Upma or uppumavu or uppittu originated in the Southern Indian states, but is now staple breakfast across the Indian subcontinent. It is similar to a thick porridge, except that it has a sprinkling of salt and veggies and not sweet like the original porridge. Made from dry semolina or the cream of wheat, the Upma is cooked in ghee with mustard seeds, cashews, onions and curry leaves and a bit of grated coconut. It also uses roasted peanuts for that extra crunch, though they are optional.


  • 1 tsp Ghee 
  • 1 tsp – oil 
  • 1 Tbsp - Cashews
  • 1 tsp - Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp - Urad Dal 
  • 1 tbsp - Ginger (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp - Green Chili (chopped)
  • 8-10 - Curry leaves (finely chopped) 
  • ½ cup onions (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup - Peas
  • ¼ cup – Carrot (finely diced) 
  • 1 cup – Quinoa (pre cooked) 
  • ¼ cup – roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup - Water
  • Salt to Taste
  • 1 tbsp - Coriander leaves (chopped)


  • In a wok or kadai, add ghee and oil and heat well
  • Add mustard seeds, urad dal and allow them to sputter, do not burn 
  • Add ginger, cashews, peanuts and chopped green chili and mix everything well till the chillies turn a little light green
  • Add finely chopped curry leaves, chopped onion, and salt to taste and stir fry till the onion is translucent
  • Add the vegetables – carrot and peas, mix well and allow it to simmer and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add a bit of water, mix well and add the pre-cooked quinoa and combine everything well
  • Cook this over medium flame for 3-5 minutes (till quinoa is a little mushy)
  • Add finely chopped coriander leaves, and mix well
  • Turn off the flame and your breakfast is ready to eat hot

Rich in both fibre and protein, Quinoa has a rice like texture but contains higher fibre than white rice. It also is less carbohydrate dense which is why it is a healthier option compared to rice when one is trying to shed weight.