Do you like savory porridge? Then you must try tomato rava bath. A savory cream of wheat or semolina porridge, with nuts, lentils and or vegetables is a filling breakfast, a light dinner and a 20 minutes recipe.
Tomato rava bath also known as tomato upma in Telugu speaking states is a popular South Indian breakfast. It is also a most often prepared breakfast during weddings and gatherings due to its quick cook time.
Sooji is cooked in a basic tempering along with lots of tomatoes, nuts and vegetables. Depending on the preparation, it is light on tummy or a real indulgence, loaded with calories. Since it is a light meal, sometimes it is our dinner.
There are many variations to the recipe and the simplest version is of tomato bhaat is cook sooji with lots of tomatoes, seasoned with ginger and green chillies. To make it wholesome, add nuts, lentils and vegetables.
- Sooji - cream of wheat or semolina and it is also called Bombay rava in India. Here in the US, I get coarse sooji, dry roast it and store it in the pantry. This reduces the step of roasting sooji when preparing tomato rava bath or upma.
- Tomatoes - use tangy, sour tomatoes. I prefer vine ripened tomatoes and adjust the quantity based on the tanginess of tomatoes. You can always squeeze some lime juice at the end, if necessary.
- Oil and / or Ghee - oil works just fine but a little bit of ghee or butter enhances the flavor.
- Tempering - mustard seeds , urea dal, green chilies , curry leaves , onions , ginger or ginger garlic paste and turmeric. I prefer chopped ginger but ginger garlic also works just fine.
- Nuts & Lentils - I prefer nuts over lentils. I usually use peanuts and cashews. You can substitute peanuts with chana dal. In the recipe I use more peanuts as we prefer those and less chana dal.
- Liquid - use 1:2½ sooji to water+milk ratio for a creamy texture and most of the times I do 1:3 ratio. Water works just fine but a little bit of milk enhances the flavor and creaminess of rava bath.
Step by Step Instruction
Dry roast sooji on medium flame until light brown. I always have home roasted sooji handy. So I do not have a picture of that in the steep by step pictorial instructions. Take a saucepan, heat oil (pic #1 in above collage), add mustard seeds and urad dal (#2).
When the mustard seeds pop, add peanuts and toss for few seconds (#3) and then add soaked chana dal (#4). Lightly roast for a minute or two until both peanuts and chana dal are light golden in color.
Add cashews (#5) and mix well, add green chilies, curry leaves (#6) and lightly roast for few seconds. If using chopped ginger instead of ginger garlic paste, add along with green chilies. Then add onions and sauté until translucent (#7).
Now add ginger garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell of ginger is gone, followed by turmeric, salt and mix well. Add tomatoes (#8) and mix well.
Cover (#9) and cook until tomatoes are soft (#10). Add water, milk (#11) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat or even better, turn off the fire, gradually add sooji stirring constantly (#12) to avoid any lumps.
Stir rapidly (#13) until sooji is properly mixed in water, turn the flame to high and give it a good stir. Reduce the fire to medium, cover (#14) and cook for 2-3 minutes until water is absorbed.
Give a good stir, cover and continue to cook on low flame for another 3-5 minutes or until sooji is completely cooked.Add some ghee (#15), mix well and simmer for a minute or two. Then garnish with cilantro (#16) and serve hot.
Tomatoes give upma a nice tang and tastes good as is. You can also serve it with some pickle, especially lime juice pickle or chutneys. Coconut dalia chutney, coconut kotmir chutney, Chettinad tomato chutney are some chutneys that go well with rava bath.
Simplest version is cooking sooji in a basic tempering with lots of tomatoes. Nuts and peanuts increase the taste as well as the nutritional value of the tomato rava bath. Addition of some veggies such as beans, carrots and green peas makes it even more filling.
- Sooji - Use coarse sooji. For best result, dry roast sooji. I always roast sooji as soon as I get it from the store and then store it in my pantry. This increases the shelf life of sooji and also cuts down the prep time when preparing upma.
- Lump free upma - Always reduce the flame or remove from fire before adding sooji to boiled water. As you add sooji, simultaneously stir the mixture to avoid lumps of sooji.
- Ghee / Butter - to enhance the flavor of upma, add at least a teaspoon of ghee just before removing turning off the flame. If you are not too health conscious, use mixture of oil and butter/ghee to cook upma.
When adding rava or sooji to water, reduce the flame to the lowest or turn off the flame completely. Add sooji gradually and stir constantly as you add sooji to avoid lumps.
Yes you can. But I highly recommend dry roasting or roasting rava in little bit of oil/ghee. Roasted sooji / rava is also available in the market but I prefer doing it at home.
Tomato Rava Bath
- Saucepan or Saute Pan
- Wooden Spoon
- Cutting Board
- ¼ cup Oil check notes
- ½ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- ½ tablespoon Urad Dal
- 1 tablespoon Chana Dal
- 2 tablespoons Peanuts
- 5 Whole Cashews broken into 4 pieces
- ½ small Onion sliced or ¼ cup sliced Onions
- 4 Green Chilies cut ½” pieces adjust to taste
- 4-5 Curry Leaves
- 2 teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste
- Pinch of Turmeric
- 1 medium to large Vine Ripe Tomato chopped or ¾ cup chopped Tomatoes I used vine tomato but any variety would do
- ½ tbsp. Salt according to taste
- 1 cup Coarse Sooji or Rava or Coarse Semolina I use roasted rava, check notes below
- 2 ¼ cup Water check notes
- ¼ cup Milk
- 1 teaspoon Ghee (optional) and skip if using oil+ghee tempering.
- Cilantro to garnish
- Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and urad dal.
- When mustard seeds pop, add peanuts and toss for few seconds, then add soaked chana dal. Lightly roast for a minute or two until both peanuts and chana dal are light golden in color.
- Add cashews and mix well, add green chilies, curry leaves and lightly toss. If using chopped ginger, add along with green chilies.
- Now add onions and sauté until onions are translucent.
- Add ginger garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell of ginger is gone. If using chopped ginger, add along with green chilies.
- Add turmeric, salt and mix well.
- Add tomatoes, mix, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes are mushy.
- Add water, milk and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat or turn off the fire, add sooji, stirring constantly to avoid any lumps. It is crucial you turn off the fire or keep it on the lowest flame.
- Once the sooji is properly mixed in water, turn the flame to high and give it a good stir.
- Then reduce the fire to medium, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until water is absorbed.
- Give a good stir, cover and continue to cook on low flame for another 3-5 minutes or until sooji is completely cooked.
- If you used only oil, add about a teaspoon ghee, mix well and simmer for a minute or two. This is optional but that bit of ghee enhances the flavor of upma.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with some lime juice, lime pickle or your favorite chutney.
- Sooji - For best result, dry roast sooji. I usually do this with the entire batch and then store it in my pantry. This increases the shelf life of sooji and also cuts back on prep time when preparing upma. You can use unroasted sooji as well but I highly recommend the roasted one.
- Oil - I used oil but can use ghee or clarified butter instead. You can use ½ oil and ½ ghee also.
- You can cut back on oil but we prefer it this may. You can use 2-3tbsp (⅛- ⅙ cup) in the recipe. In which case, use 1:3 or at least 1: 2 ½ sooji to water ratio.
- Water Ratio - we prefer soft and sticky consistency hence use 1:2 ½ or sometimes even 1:3 ratio.
- Chana Dal - If using chana dal, wash the dal and soak the dal for a few minutes until all the prep work is done. No need to pre-soak it for a longer time.
- Nutrition - Values listed are approximate.
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This post was originally published in Oct 2013. It is republished with new content and images.