Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bread upma -- an Indian version of bread stuffing

There are so many things that I miss about living in Japan. High on the list is crustless sandwich bread. I know…how hard is it to cut crusts off bread, right? Not to sound spoilt, but really, there was something joyous about opening up a perfectly vacuum sealed package of delicate crustless bread, just begging for translucent discs of cucumber to be sandwiched between the slices. But since I no longer have the luxury of such laziness, I have be content with cutting the crusts off my bread for those occasions that just demand a crustless sandwich – like when the Queen is over for tea, for instance. To come to my point…what do you do with all the left over crusts from such an endeavor? If you don’t want to throw away perfectly good food and are up to trying a new recipe, here’s one that never disappoints in my house.

Upma is a savory dish made in Southern India, usually involving cream of wheat or cream of rice. This bread upma, which is best described as an Indian version of American stuffing, is usually made when we end up with several end pieces of bread accumulating in the fridge. It’s very easy to make and is generally eaten for breakfast in India. If a spicy or savory breakfast is just not your thing, you can certainly eat this for lunch or dinner or anytime in between. And of course, you don’t have to wait till you have a bunch of crusts before you make this – you can also cheat and just chop up perfectly whole slices of bread.

Bread upma*


1T canola oil

½ t turmeric powder

½ t mustard seeds

1 red onion, diced

2 yellow potatoes, diced

5 green chilis, julienned

1T red chili powder

Salt to taste

Juice of half a lemon

8 slices of bread, cut into 1” cubes

1T fresh or frozen coconut**

4 T finely minced cilantro

Heat oil in a pan and add turmeric and mustard.

When mustard seeds start popping, add onion and sautee till browned

Add potatoes, green and red chilies, and salt

Cook covered until potatoes are fork tender

Toss in bread and lemon juice and cook for about 5 minutes until bread is tender and has absorbed some of the spices from the potato mixture

Add coconut and cook a minute longer.

Take off heat, and garnish with cilantro and additional lemon juice, if desired.

*The consistency of this dish should be a little dryer than American stuffing. If bread starts to look too dry while cooking, sprinkle some water and allow bread to tenderize.

**If all you have is dessicated coconut, soak 1 T of this in some warm water for 5 minutes before adding to the upma. If all you have is sweetened coconut flakes, just throw it away, and don't ever buy it again!


  1. Good one! I loved the intro to the Ukma recipe... especially the bit about the Queen.

  2. You are a gourmet chef Harini and a great photographer too. I need to try this ASAP now. Not to miss, a natural writer too......the introduction made quite and appitizer for the main course of Bread Upma.

    1. Vibha, you are too kind. Do let me know how you like it after you try it.

  3. Yummy... guess what I am going to have this evening! Thanks H :)