Atukula upma is South Indian poha, a quick spicy flavorful breakfast with flattened rice. Gluten free, vegan recipe takes under 20 minutes to prepare and is a filling breakfast and an after school snack.
Atukulu is flattened or beaten rice and is also known as poha and aval in various regions of India. Stir fried atukulu or poha upma is a common preparation in most of the Indian states with some variations.
South Indian Poha
We normally call this upma poni kesi na atukulu in Telugu, meaning tempered atukulu. People not familiar with the language and cooking habits of the Telugu speaking regions can easily confuse poha upma with poha mixture. Unlike poha mixture (chivda), upma is soft.
For ease of understanding, I named it is as atukula upma. Atukula upma recipe is easy to prepare. Softened atukulu are sauteed with red & green chilies, onions and peanuts and served with/without a few drops of lime juice.
To make atukulu healthier, add some veggies such as green peas, carrots and potatoes. You can add either or a combination of above veggies. Batani (green peas) poha and aloo poha are common, besides peanuts.
South Indian poha does not require any accompaniment and just a few drops of lime juice goes a long way. However, some prefer an Indian pickle on the side. In Indore, poha and jalebi is a classic breakfast combination.
- Atukulu | Poha - use thick poha. If using thin poha, follow the note in the recipe or the tip below.
- Peanuts - this is optional and I prefer adding peanuts for some protein and also poha tastes better with some peanuts in it.
- Chilies - use a combination of red and green chilies. Major part of the spice comes from green chilies.
- Lime - optional and just a few drops of lime juice goes a long way. Add lime juice at the end or just before serving based on one's preference .
- Tempering - oil, cumin, mustard, curry leaves and garlic.
Use thick poha and in the step by step pictures, I used both peanuts and green peas. Keep all the ingredients ready before washing the poha.
Step 1: Wash atukulu couple of times in clean water. Squeeze out as much water as you can by pressing atukulu between palms. Put in a strainer until ready to use.
Step 2: Heat oil in a pan, roast a red chili, let mustard and cumin seeds splutter, then lightly roast peanuts until nuts change color. If using green peas, add now.
Step 3: Saute green chilies, curry leaves and onions until onions are translucent.
Step 4: Add garlic and saute for a few seconds, add turmeric and salt. Mix well.
Step 5: Add washed atukulu and stir until the tempering coats atukulu. Stir fry for few minutes until atukulu are lightly fried.
Step 6: Once the upma is done, sprinkle cilantro, turn off the flame and squeeze lime juice. Mix well and serve.
Serving & Storage
Squeeze lemon/lime juice just before serving atukulu upma or keep a lime wedge on the side as people can add as per their taste. You can also serve these South Indian poha with a South Indian pickle on the side, though it is not really necessary.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator, in an air tonight container. Before serving, sprinkle a few drops of water and microwave for a minute or until warm.
Substitute peanuts with green peas and/or small potato cubes. You can also use a combination of peanuts, fresh green peas and/or potatoes. Carrots and beans are also good addition.
Use thick poha for not so mushy atukula upma. When using thin poha, first prepare the tempering. Then sprinkle some water on atukulu or wash atukulu just before adding it to the tempering.
This post was originally published in Sept 2015. It is republished with new content and images.
- 1 Large bowl to wash atukulu
- 1 Stainer or a colander
- 1 Knife & Cutting Board
- 1 Frying pan & a spatula or a spoon
- 1 cup Atukulu ~ Thick Poha
- 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons Oil
- ⅛ teaspoons Mustard Seeds
- ⅛ teaspoons Cumin Seeds
- 1 Dry Red Chili optional
- 2 tablespoons Peanuts
- ¼ small Onion sliced
- 3 small Green Chilies chopped (adjust to heat tolerance level)
- 4 big Curry Leaves use 10 small leaves
- ½ teaspoon crushed Garlic
- ⅛ teaspoon Turmeric
- ½ teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- Few drops of Lime Juice optional
- ¼ cup chopped Cilantro or Kothmir for garnish
- Keep all the ingredients ready; cut onions, chop chilies, wash curry leaves and crush garlic.
- Wash atukulu, squeeze out water and put in a colander or a strainer.
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Roast red chili, then add cumin and mustard seeds.
- When seeds pop, add peanuts and stir for a few seconds.
- If using any other veggies such as fresh green peas, chopped potato pieces or carrots, add now.
- Then saute curry leaves, green chilies and onions, one at a time until onions are translucent, green chilies change color and peanuts are roasted.
- Add garlic and saute for another few seconds.
- Add turmeric, salt and give a good stir.
- Then add washed atukulu and stir until seasoning coats.
- Stir fry for a few minutes until atukulu are lightly fried. If required, reduce the flame when stir frying.
- Taste and adjust salt. Turn off the flame.
- Squeeze some lime juice, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
- If there are any leftovers, refrigerate. Before serving, sprinkle a few drops of water and microwave for a minute or until warm.
- Poha - Use thick poha for firm and not mushy upma. If using thin poha, do not wash it. Sprinkle some water just before adding it to the prepared tempering. For 1 cup of thin poha, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of water or as needed.
- Variation - Substitute peanuts with green peas and/or small potato cubes. You can also use peanuts along with peas and/or potatoes. Carrots and beans are also good addition but my preference is peanuts and/or green peas.
- Nutrition - Values mentioned below are approximate values.
Signup to the newsletter to receive latest updates from MySpicyKitchen.