I always used to get excited at the sight of Upma. You ask why? Well, for one, my mother detests it as much as I love it and so she rarely makes it at home. The only times I have had upma is either when my friends used to bring it for lunch to college or it was part of a breakfast buffet menu. Oh yes, and those rare days when my grandmother gathers the energy to make a basic onion upma because even this simple dish is a tedious task for her. When the soft granules of sooji touch my tongue, they automatically melt and surprise me with a pea or carrot julienne at times. 

Unlike my poha, which I cannot think of eating without bhujiya, upma is something that I like to keep simple and basic, without too many additions. This breakfast staple is largely a South Indian delicacy, given the plethora of upma varieties you find once you head to the southern parts of the country. I had this realization long back when I carefully noticed the use of curry leaves and mustard seeds in my homemade upma. This inquisitiveness drove me to look up South Indian style upma and guess what? There was not one but plenty of styles, with variations in the core ingredient, that could be done to create this ubiquitous dish of South India. 

Now, if you are also bored of that same old upma taste, here are some South Indian styles that are worth a try. 

1.  Shavige Uppittu 

This interesting creation makes use of the versatile vermicelli which is otherwise used in kheer, payasam and several other desserts generally. This savoury version of vermicelli spruces up the thin strands with carrots and peas, making it a delicious snack item. This is also called semiya upma. It is healthy and generally eaten without any condiments. 

2.  Arisi Upma 

Popular across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, this rice-based upma is a breakfast classic in most households. Instead of semolina, boiled rice is used along with chana and urad dal to make this healthy recipe. The texture and flavours are very distinct. 

3.  Chow Chow Bath 

The expression, chow chow is a common phrase when referring to a mixture in Bengaluru. A combination of Kesari bath and Khara bath, this upma recipe is a perfect blend of sweet and spicy flavours. The traditional way to eat this concoction is with a side of coconut chutney. 

4.  Khara Bath 

Known as rava/sooji upma across northern India, this bath is not only popular in South India but in the western parts of the country too. The semolina (sooji) is roasted and then flavoured with curry leaves and mustard seeds, before all the veggies like peas and carrots and potatoes are added to it. That’s exactly how my grandmother makes it too. 

5. Thinai Arisi Upma 

Gaining widespread popularity in the cities of Chennai and Bangalore, this upma variety is for the fitness enthusiasts. A notch higher from regular millet, foxtail millet is the core ingredient of this dish. Add in some onions and tomatoes and you are good to go. 

6.  Uggani Upma 

The top choice for a tea time snack in Andhra Pradesh and northern parts of Karnataka, Uggani is a spicy treat that is usually paired with a mirchi bajji. The puffed rice is roasted to be made crispy and then tossed in oil with raw peanuts and green chilies.