Savoury Polenta Porridge

Have you cooked with Polenta before? If so, let me know what you made in the comments below, I’m very curious to know…!!

We’ve had thunder storms here this week with a lot of rain and some sunshine every once in a while, I was in the mood for something different, savoury and comforting. During my weekly shop at the local South Asian store I came across a packet of coarse Polenta (cornmeal)… and so it began!

Got back home from work and I wanted to try a variation of a South Indian dish I’ve heard of many times before but have not had a chance to try out, this is normally made with Semolina, however I feel  – after tasting it, works just as well with Polenta (cornmeal) too!

The dish I’m referring to is locally called Upma or Uppittu… traditionally served at breakfast or as a snack however, its made with Semolina instead of Polenta

I like the Semlolina version a lot however, this was special as well!

Try it and let me know what you think…

Time: 10mins                                                         Prep time: 5mins


  • 75 grams of coarse cornmeal/ Polenta
  • Approx. 250mls of water (you could add more depending how soft/ runny you prefer your porridge)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I’ve used sesame oil)
  • a few curry leaves
  • half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • quarter a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • half a teaspoon of split urad dal
  • quarter a teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a hand full or fresh or frozen peas
  • some fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 pinch of hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 green chilli
  • half a fresh lime

Start by chopping the onion & chilli into fine pieces, grate the ginger

Then into a wok on medium heat, add the oil, once hot, add in asafoetida, cumin, urad dal, mustard seeds & curry leaves and as they splutter add in the green chill, ginger and onion & saute till translucent.

Sprinkle a little salt at this stage, it will help the onions cook faster. Your kitchen should be smelling like a little South Indian piece of heaven now!!! 😉

Then add the turmeric and mix, add the peas and allow to cook for a minute.

Now, add the water in and bring to a boil. Put the chopped coriander leaves in and season with salt. Do a taste check here, if all the seasoning appears well balanced and just right for you it’s now time to add in the Polenta

Quick tip while adding the polenta is to keep stirring with one hand as you add it in to the wok with the other to avoid any lumps that may occur otherwise!

Turn the heat down to the absolute minimum and give it all a good mix, add a bit of water if you like a softer consistency and cook with the lid on for  2 minutes.

Turn off the heat and serve hot with a squeeze of fresh lime!! 🙂


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