Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

The Arisiupma trilogy (Guest Post by Janani)

Food blogging has opened a window for me to meet interesting and like-minded people who also share my passion and philosophy of cooking. Janani Srinivasan from Toronto is one such person. After reading her comments on some of my blogged recipes, I knew I found a friend and I had to ask her if she would be interested to share her family recipes on “Mahanandi”. She agreed enthusiastically and readily to my delight. Here she is, sharing her family’s treasured, traditional recipes in “The Arisiupma Trilogy”. Enjoy!
– Indira

My fondest childhood memories are of mealtimes at the home of my maternal grandparents where my grandmother- Annapurani in nature as in name- would whip up meal after magical meal prompting my late grandfather to often say in Sanskrit “Anna dhaata sukhi Bhava” (May the giver of rice be happy). If the story of a people’s deepest aspirations can be seen in their metaphor, then this poetic conflation of rice as food itself speaks volumes to the centrality of grain in the foodscapes of India’s many cultures.

One of the other remarkable features of the Indian subcontinent, is that depending on what filter or combination of these that you use- language, religion, culture, region, social identity, you could carve it up into a delightful array of unique variants of regional cuisines.

If I were to cite the major culinary influences that shape my own approach to cooking, I would pick out, as my example, my paternal grandmother Vathsala’s austere, methodical, cooking-with-what’s-on-hand-to minimize-waste? Kumbakonam Iyer style, with Annapurani’s elaborate, lavish, incredibly rich preparations shaped by her own life in Hyderabad and Bangalore; to my mother Jayanthi’s innovative style from her many travels, her tendency towards the fiery twists of her life in the Rayalseema region but always with a strong adherence to the authentic approach of her own paternal grandmother.

So when Indira asked me to guest blog, I could not think of a better tribute to my heritage and to the food grain that has sustained generations of my family, than the humble “Arisiuppma” with two of its popular variations “Thavalaadai” and “Pudikozhakattai”.


(a) For the “Upma Odasal” or the cracked rice meal:
Rice- 1 cup (Using Brown basmati for this takes it to a whole new level of dense nutty chewy perfection but regular basmati or ay other rice especially par-boiled rice is quite acceptable and is the norm)
Urad Daal– 1 tsp
Toor Daal– 2 tsp
Dried red chilies- 4- 6 (depending on the level of spice tolerance)
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp

Ingredients for Cracked Rice Meal

(b) Tadka or seasoning:
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Urad dal– 1 tsp
Few Curry leaves
Green chilies- 3 to 4, chopped finely into rounds
Ginger root- 1inch, finely chopped .
Fenugreek seeds- Just a tiny pinch (optional)
Asafoetida- a pinch (the extract of the solid version soaked in water is ideal but the powdered form is acceptable too)
Sunflower oil- 1 tbsp (It is normally used but if you have the gutsJ, coconut oil tadka will make this dish quite ethereal.)
(c) Garnish:
Freshly grated coconut a fistful (can be omitted if it’s not preferred or my paternal aunt’s variation is to substitute it with sauteed onions)
(d) Salt to taste

Tadka or Seasoning Ingredients


1 In a blender/food processor coarse grind the ingredients listed under “(a)” to a cracked wheat consistency.

2 In a wide-bottomed pan, heat the oil and do the tadka.

3 Once the seeds start to sizzle and splutter, add fresh water in the proportion 1: 3 rice meal and water.

4 Once the water starts to boil, add in the coarsely grinded “(a)” list of ingredients and mix well.

Now when I made it this time, I had to ensure that my pipeline was effective since I was making three dishes with the exact same ingredients. Typically, one would only make one of the three preparations at any given time.

Up to step 4 above is common to all 3 dishes. After this point, the procedure diverges for each preparation.

Pudikozhakattai (Steamed Cracked Rice Dumplings)

Pudikozhakattai (steamed cracked rice dumplings)

When the mixture is well mixed and the water is just absorbed, take it off the heat. Depending on your heat tolerance, try not to let it cool down too much. Work rapidly using some cold water to wet hands and roll it into balls. Steam for about 8-10 minutes till done. A special twist here is to bury a smidgeon of jaggery in the center of this so you stumble upon a heart of sweet goodness as a surprise while biting into it.

Thavaladai (Rice Lentil Croquets)

Thavaladai (Rice lentil croquets

After step 4, take it off the heat. Once it’s cooled down shape into patties and shallow fry on a griddle. Can be served with ketchup or any chutney if desired or just plain.



(Try as I might, I could not come up with a nifty English equivalent for this dish. Let’s hope this will enter the lexicon alongside the likes of Bulghur, Couscous and Cream of Wheat. )

Keep going from step 4 till the uppma is well done. To serve, especially for kids, a popular pairing is with some ghee and sugar. Pickle and yogurt is also a combination but mostly its just eaten plain and piping hot.

– Guest Post by Janani Srinivasan, Toronto
Jayasri Srinivasan – Ingredient lineups and picture arrangements
Dr.S.Ramachandran – Photographs

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Basmati Rice,Biyyamu (Rice),Janani Srinivasan,Sona Masuri Rice,Zen (Personal) (Tuesday May 23, 2006 at 1:13 pm- permalink)
Comments (29)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

29 comments for The Arisiupma trilogy (Guest Post by Janani) »

  1. Scrumptuos Trilogy,

    IdlAdayUpma I would call it! (A generic for Idli-Adai-Upma all from one source)

    At first glance, what looked like a feat for an amateur like me, turned out to be surprisingly executable.
    Thanks Janani and Indira for this one.

    Indira, you have got great friends, and did you try this? Iam sure you would have added your own twist.

    Indira replies:
    Idli.aday.upma – what an apt description.
    Thanks VTP. We also prepare arisiupma (biyyam ravva upma) at our home, but the first two are new recipes to me. I’ll certainly try them following Janani’s recipe.

    Comment by Vidyanath Tirumala Penugonda — May 23, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Although I am from Kerala, I hardly recognize some recipes from other Kerala bloggers as they belong to a seperate region or religion. That is why travelling from one part of India to another, or for that matter, from one part of the state to another is like travelling to a different country. The whole concept is so intriguing and to me is one of the most amazing things about Indian culture.

    Comment by Gini — May 23, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  3. What lovely looking recipes..
    Thank you Janani and Indira

    Comment by santhi — May 23, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

  4. Hi Indira…Can you give me Janani,s contact id please…..she seems to be my junior at school…thats what I guess..Thank You…Priti

    Indira replies:
    I replied to the email id of your comment, please check it out.

    Comment by Priti — May 23, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  5. Hey nice to see Jananis recipe!I have a doubt… in step 3,didnt understand the proportion,is it 3 for water and 1 for the batter?

    Indira replies:
    The directions are clear – 1:3 rice meal and water.
    For 3 cups of water, add 1 cup of coarsely grinded rice. Hope this helps.

    Comment by Sumitha — May 23, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

  6. Oh! This is cool 3 different dishes! I am going to try the second one. Great Janani! (Doesnt Janani means Sita?)
    Thanks Indira for providing her the space.That was nice.

    Indira replies:
    Perfect for a weekend, you could prepare one for each meal with the same ingredients.
    It’s the other way around and I’ve to say thanks to Janani. She did respond to my very demanding requests without hesitation and very generously.

    Comment by L.G — May 23, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

  7. Brings back memories of my grand mother’s dishes. This is an authentic Tanjore preparation very much in line with the traditional way. The pictures were also pleasing to the eye and not to mention the careful assembling of the ingredients, which is very important. I especially prefer the uppuma by itself, since it will be low calorie. May I suggest highly seasoned lemon pickle also on the side?!?

    Good item!

    Comment by pavalini — May 23, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  8. Great recipes… thanks to both Janani and Indira.
    A question for Janani: Did you live in Mumbai by any chance?

    Comment by MI — May 23, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

  9. Hi Indiara,
    Thanks for posting Mrs.Jananis recipes.
    My grandmother used to do arisi upma for “vikunta ekadasi”.
    Nice recipes.

    Comment by vineela krishna — May 23, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  10. Wow!

    Comment by Sri Valli — May 23, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

  11. Firstly, I must thank Indira, for introducing to us such a wonderful writer.
    Janani, I could completely identify with your introduction- my maternal grandmother and my mother make this atleast once in every 2-3 months, but I have never got into trying this recipe, although it is one of my favorites- arisiupma kozhakattai that is ! This is always had with a tamarind coconut chutney in our house. My mouth is all watering, am going to ask mom to make this for me next time I;m home 🙂

    Comment by Nandita — May 23, 2006 @ 11:40 pm

  12. Indira, you come out with something very speical on your blogs, When i was reading this, i felt i am travelling through this rayalseema region, and a voice(janani) is guidining me through the culinary introductions of the region. That was quite an experience reading your post! My mother makes this upma, and those times i never uese to like. By reading this, i am guilty of creating tantrums those times. This is such a special dish!

    Indira replies:
    Hi Aparna, I know, very special, indeed. I felt the same way. Janani has really a unique and gifted voice.

    Comment by Aparna — May 24, 2006 @ 1:43 am

  13. What a beautifully worded write-up!

    Comment by shammi — May 24, 2006 @ 4:50 am

  14. My mom makes this kind of upma. It is called ‘Uppudu Pindi’ in telangana region. I like it a lot. She adds ‘sanagalu'(black chick peas), and pearl onions to that. I miss it a lot now. However hard I try, I can never get that same taste as hers.

    Comment by Cooking Theory — May 24, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  15. Thank you for the lovely recipes, Indira and Janani. It gives me goosebumps to think how, although we all come from different families, these recipes/foodblogs serve as a wonderful platform to unite us, and show that we are in fact connected in multiple different ways in terms of our culinary influences, cooking philosophies, passions etc. I’ve always wondered about different aspects of these traditional foods as to how they would have evolved, how old they are, where they originated first, and how these recipes would have traveled among different families/communities. May be if there’s a food anthropologists among u swho could dig out interesting information on recipes’ history etc… I love Alton Brown’s Good Eats, and the wealth of information he would provide about each recipe/ingredient – it’s past,present etc.. If only we have a more alton-brown like historical and scientific analysis of all these wonderful recipes… just my one cent thought.. I would be eager hear what you think about it, Indira…

    thanks for your awesome work on this blog!

    Indira replies:
    I totally agree and like you I’ve always felt curious about the origins of ingredients and recipes etc and always on the lookout for traditional, no shortcut recipes. I am sure most of the readers of this blog also feel that way.
    I wish for that very much, a series like ‘Good Eats’, really will do a lot to create awareness about all the things you mentioned in people minds. For all that to happen, first we have to proud of who we are and about what we eat. Ofcourse a CEO and a TV executive with brains, not afraid to showoff their Indian culinary heritage.:)
    Thanks Desimom.

    Comment by desimom — May 24, 2006 @ 9:25 am

  16. That was an excellent write-up! Keep writing, Janani. And what humble yet soulful recipes!

    Comment by Garam Masala — May 24, 2006 @ 9:37 am

  17. All the three recipes look so simple, but so unique. Thank you very much Janani for sharing them and thank you Indira for this wonderful post.

    Comment by Pavani — May 24, 2006 @ 9:45 am

  18. I know this is a very basic query. I apologise for sounding illiterate!
    Where you explain the ingredients you say “Rice-1 cup (Using Brown basmati for this takes it to a whole new level of dense nutty chewy perfection but regular basmati or ay other rice especially par-boiled rice is quite acceptable and is the norm)”. Does that mean we par boil the rice before grinding – sorry for sounding silly but i did not understand what it meant – or is par boiled a type of rice?

    Indira replies:
    Please, no apologies are necessary. Clearing up a doubt is always a good thing, indicates your interest.:)
    I am going to answer for Janani.
    Par-boiled rice is a type of rice, just like regular rice, basmati and brown rice, it is avialable in most of the Indian grocery shops here in US and I am sure in UK also. Checkout SouthIndian shops. Very popular with Tamilians, they often use it to prepare idlies and dosas.
    I’ve also added a link under parboiled rice. Please check it out.

    Comment by 30in2005 — May 24, 2006 @ 10:23 am

  19. Hi Indira,

    The Arisiupma is an awesome post. Real mouthwatering pictures and the nostalgia that comes with it is amazing! I miss home so much now. My mom and grandmom used to make this for me and I miss having them here with me.
    I am new to blogging and already love the idea and am addicted to it. I hope to learn a lot from this community.
    Please check out my webiste when you get a chance. It is nowhere close to your perfection, but its a small step into becoming a succesful blogger.

    Looking forward to your wonderful posts!

    Love Latha

    Indira replies:
    Congratulations on your new blog, Latha. Thanks for the invitation, I’ll certainly come and see what you are cooking up there. I am sure your blog is going to be fabulous and gorgeous. Thanks and best wishes!

    Comment by Latha — May 24, 2006 @ 10:44 am

  20. Recipes are all new to me. Thank you so much Janani. Really enjoyed your post. Looking forward to see more.
    Thank you Indira for introducing a wonderful and talented person.

    Comment by RP — May 24, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  21. That’s a wonderful write-up Janini. And the recipe sounds very appetising. And thank you Indira for sharing Janini with us.

    Comment by Nabeela — May 24, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

  22. You have got an awesome writing style Janani, wish i could read more from you. Please start a blog or something, if you will.
    You always have this very genuine style of your own,i like you friend.

    Comment by Archana — May 24, 2006 @ 9:15 pm

  23. Hi Indira!
    I’m a Indian Student in Singapore,two weeks before i tried cooking Arisi Upma,what a coincidence i hear the same from janani.Anyone has idea about recipe for pal kolukattai.

    Comment by Shalini — May 25, 2006 @ 3:05 am

  24. Thanks Indira for introducing Janani to us.I have benefited enormously by your recipes and with this guest post you have brought back my childhood memories…

    Janani , I did read some of the comments that you left on this site , but I wasn’t sure if it was the same “JAN” I knew. But after reading this contribution, I know without doubt that you are the one.

    Indira,a favour to ask. Could you please pass on Janani’s ID to me or alternately pass on mine to her. Works fine either ways.I appreciate your kind gesture.
    Indira,Thanks once again.

    Indira replies:
    Hi Smitha, I’ve forwarded the email id of your comment to Janani. I am glad that you are able to meet your old school pal through “Mahanandi”.:) Take care.

    Comment by Smita — May 25, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  25. Thanks one and all for an amazing welcome! I am trying to thank everyone with their own blogs individually on their comments section. Warm regards and thanks to all the rest..and very special thanks of course to Indira.To answer a few comments that haven’t been answered:

    MI: Never lived in Bombay.Visited it very briefly though.

    Vineela: Thanks for your comments. Am not a Mrs. though:)

    Comment by Janani — May 26, 2006 @ 11:29 am

  26. This is awesome, especially the pictures.I make very often and to make it a complete meal in itself, I add a little mixed vegetables when the water is boiling.

    Comment by Anita — August 21, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  27. hi
    i am from New Jersey(USA). I like your recipies. My sister-in-law told about you.I am also doing your recipies. u r very awesome goys.
    thank u very much.


    Comment by jyothi — October 23, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  28. Great site. Thanks!

    (your danish fan 🙂


    Comment by Robert — February 5, 2008 @ 4:07 am

  29. Arasi upma came out very well for me.. THanks to Janani! Hey is it same Janani who studied with me Alliance Francaise in Jaya nagar? Niru over class mate told me u r in Toranto..hence this question. Thanks,Rani

    Comment by Rani — August 12, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

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