Quinoa Upma (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
Mar 28, 2023
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This one-pot Quinoa Upma is a simple vegan, wholesome meal that packs more protein than the traditional Rava Upma. It makes a filling breakfast or lunch and can be enjoyed as such or with a side of cilantro coconut chutney or peanut chutney. You can make it either in the Instant pot or stove top.
I grew up eating a lot of lentils and beans and they are an integral part of my everyday diet. Quinoa wasn’t something I grew up eating but over the years it has become a part of my diet and I like eating it at least once a week. When I first started eating quinoa, it was just in salads and while I still enjoy adding quinoa to salads (like this Quinoa Mango Thai Salad is my favorite!), now I cook it a lot in Indian style too.
Adding quinoa to Indian recipes is very simple, in most recipes you can just replace the rice with quinoa like in quinoa khichdi or quinoa matar pulao. You can also replace sooji (semolina) with quinoa and make upma with quinoa.
Upma is a popular Indian dish made with semolina and veggies. It is like a savory porridge, tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and often eaten for breakfast. To make it more wholesome, I replaced the semolina with quinoa.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Recipe
- It is wholesome and more protein packed than traditional upma.
- Makes an easy one-pot meal which is easy to put together.
- Is vegan and can be easily made gluten free.
- Is also great for meal prep and to pack in lunchboxes.
Quinoa: in the market, you will find different varieties of quinoa like red quinoa, tricolor quinoa. For this recipe, I have used white quinoa which is the most commonly available variety in the market.
Nuts: in this quinoa upma recipe, I have used peanuts and cashews. Nuts add a nice crunch to this dish here which is otherwise soft.
Veggies: I have used onions and green peas here but you can also add carrots, peppers, cauliflower.
Seasonings: this quinoa upma is lightly seasoned with ginger, mustard seeds, hing (asafetida), and curry leaves.
Cilantro: fresh herbs like cilantro add to freshness of the upma.
Step by Step Instructions – How to Make Quinoa Upma
1- Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. Once it displays hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Then add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds and let them pop.
Then add a generous pinch of hing and 1/2 teaspoon each of chana and urad dal (which I soaked in water for 10 minutes beforehand) and cook for 30 seconds.
2- Then add the following:
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
- 1 green chili, chopped
- 1 tablespoon peanuts
- 1 tablespoon cashews, broken
3- Cook for 1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes and then add 1 medium chopped onion and 7 to 8 curry leaves. Cook the onions for 2 to 3 minutes until softened and light brown in color.
4- Then add 1/3 cup green peas. I used frozen green peas.
5- Stir in 1 cup quinoa (rinsed) and stir. Then add 1 & 1/4 cups of water. Add additional 1/4 cup water if you have a 8qt Instant Pot or if you prefer softer quinoa. The total water in that case will be 1 & 1/2 cups.
6- Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste) and stir.
7- Close the lid and press the manual or pressure cook button. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.
8- Then open the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro. Serve hot!
Stovetop Instructions for Cooking Quinoa Upma
Rinse the quinoa several times. Drain and set aside. Heat oil then add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Add hing, chana and urad dal and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the chopped ginger, green chili, cashews and peanuts. Sauté for a minute or two until the ginger, cashews and peanuts turn light golden brown in color.
Then add the onions and curry leaves. Cook for 2 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add frozen green peas and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the rinsed quinoa and cook the quinoa with all the veggies and spices for 2 minutes. Add water, salt, and mix and increase the heat to high and bring it all to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to minimum (lowest) setting, cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pan from heat and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes. Open the pan, fluff the quinoa with a fork. Add cilantro, lemon juice and serve hot.
- I like my upma simple so I have only added green peas and onion here. But you may add any vegetable you like here like carrot, peppers, cauliflower. I would probably not use cauliflower if making the upma in the Instant Pot since it will turn out very mushy. However for stove-top, you can use cauliflower, just make sure to chop it fine to make sure it cooks along with everything else.
- Nuts like peanuts and cashews can be roasted in a pan or air fryer and added to the upma later as well before serving.
- For the Instant Pot version, I have used 1 & 1/4 cup water which is 10 oz of water. This recipe was tested in a 6qt. If using an 8 qt, you might need to add an extra 1/4 cup water, in which case the total amount of water will be 1 & 1/2 cups (12 oz). You can also add extra water if you prefer a softer upma.
- The upma will look clumped up together when done, fluff the quinoa with a fork at this point. The grains separate as the quinoa cools down.
- This upma is lightly seasoned with mustard seeds and ginger and curry leaves. You can also add cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder if you wish to.
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe is not gluten free since I have used hing (asafetida). To make it gluten free, skip the hing or use a gluten free hing in the recipe.
Yes, this recipe is vegan.
You can but I highly recommend not skipping them. This is a soft dish and the addition of nuts and dals provide the much needed texture.
The quinoa that I used is pre-rinsed so I don’t really need to rinse it before using. However it is a good idea usually (especially if your quinoa isn’t pre-rinsed), to rinse the quinoa under running water for 2 minutes. This helps in cutting the bitterness from the quinoa.
This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in September 2017.
- 1 tablespoon oil 15 ml, I used avocado oil
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- generous pinch of hing also known as asafoetida
- 1/2 teaspoon chana dal
- 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
- 1 teaspoon ginger finely chopped
- 1 green chili finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon peanuts raw
- 1 tablespoon cashews broken
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 7-8 curry leaves
- 1/3 cup green peas frozen
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed very well
- 1 & 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped, to garnish
- Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. Once it displays hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil and then the mustard seeds and let them pop.Add hing and chana and urad dal and cook 30 seconds.
- Then add ginger, green chili, peanuts and cashews. Cook for around 1 minutes and then add the onion and curry leaves. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions soften and then add the green peas.
- Stir in the quinoa along with 1 & 1/4 cups of water. Add extra 1/4 cup water if you prefer softer quinoa or if you have a 8qt instant pot. Also add lemon juice and salt and mix everything.
- Pressure cook on high pressure for 2 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork, add chopped cilantro and serve hot!
- Skip hing (asafetida) or use a gluten-free hing to make this recipe gluten free.
- You can add more veggies like cauliflower, carrots to this upma. I would avoid the cauliflower if making this upma in the Instant Pot as it will turn too mushy.
- Refer to post for instructions to make quinoa upma on stovetop.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.