Tikhat Mithacha Saanja: A Maharashtrian Take On Upma
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The cornerstone to healthy living starts with a good meal right at the beginning of your day. With that said, India as a country has innumerable breakfast dishes on offer that make it hard to pick just one. In the state of Maharashtra and its cuisine, most people are familiar with the missal pao and vada paos; and as delicious as they are, there’s a lot more to a typical Maharashtrian breakfast than just poha or sabudanyachi khichdi.

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Interestingly enough, many dishes in the subcontinent overlap with slight variations in flavours or specific components used to create a particular dish. One such dish, the saanja, is an offshoot of the South Indian upma that you might be familiar with. The key difference between the upma and the saanja is that the latter is cooked with buttermilk and contains plenty of freshly grated coconut as their key flavour variations. While you could make this dish for breakfast, the saanja keeps well for at least a month when tempered and stored in the fridge before adding any kinds of cooking liquids to the mix. Here’s how you can make your own, at home:



  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 tablespoons ghee/peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, slit
  • 7-10 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon boiled/roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water


  • Heat some ghee or oil in a pan and temper the mustard seeds and curry leaves until they begin to splutter. Add the grated ginger and sauté until it turns aromatic and throw in the chopped onions along with the curry leaves.
  • Cook this tempering until the onions start to turn translucent and add the green chillies in. Add a sprinkling of turmeric powder and the boiled peanuts and stir everything together for the flavours to meld with each other.
  • Separately, mix the yoghurt in the water along with the asafoetida to make a buttermilk mixture of sorts. Add the salt to this buttermilk mix and set aside. Into the pan with the tempering mixture, add the semolina and toast gently on a low flame until the semolina loses its raw fragrance and starts to turn a toasty brown colour.
  • At this stage, you can stop cooking the mixture if you plan on storing it for a later date and cool completely before transferring to a box and placing it in the fridge.
  • Once the semolina is toasted completely, add the buttermilk mixture and stir constantly until the semolina absorbs all the liquid and cooks completely, till all the moisture has been evaporated. Once cooked, the semolina should feel fluffy and almost the consistency of cookie dough. Turn off the heat and cover the pan for 5-10 minutes to let the mixture fluff up a little bit.
  • Remove the lid and add the sugar and lemon juice. Serve hot, garnished with plenty of sev or eat with a spicy green chutney as accompaniments.