Upma, a quintessentially South Indian breakfast, is normally made with semolina and cooked as a thick porridge with seasonings and vegetables. But I went down a different route by using quinoa instead. The raw mango sauce with the upma is based on a distinctive sweet-sour curry that my Maharashtrian grandmother used to make with kairi, jaggery and coconut milk. Holding it all together is a beautifully-cooked rawas, the Indian salmon found off the western coast. If rawas is unavailable, you can substitute it with any other white, firm-fleshed fish.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time

    1h 30m


For Rawas

  • 4 fillets rawas, 125 gm each, with the skin on
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For Quinoa Upma

  • 150 gm mix of red, white and black quinoa
  • 15 gm chopped onions
  • 5 gm chopped green chilli
  • 5 gm cashew nuts
  • 5 gm raisins
  • 5 gm chopped parsley
  • 5 gm chopped chives
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • 10 ml olive oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

For Kairi Curry

  • 100 gm raw mango
  • 25 gm jaggery
  • 10 gm basmati rice
  • 300 ml vegetable stock
  • 120 ml coconut milk
  • 30 ml sunflower or peanut oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste 


For Kairi Curry

  1. Peel the raw mango, cut the flesh off the seed and dice into large chunks. Boil the chunks in half the vegetable stock with half the turmeric powder, till tender.
  2. Drain off the water and process the softened raw mango in a food processor to a smooth paste.
  3. Dry-roast the rice in a sauté pan on high heat, till it browns. Remove immediately and dry grind the rice to a fine powder in a grinder.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and temper it with fenugreek and mustard seeds, the remaining turmeric powder and curry leaves.
  5. Pour the raw mango purée into the tempered spices in the pan, combine well, and cook on low flame until the purée just starts bubbling.
  6. Tip in the remaining vegetable stock and coconut milk. Gently simmer on low heat for a short while, making sure that the coconut milk does not split.
  7. Add rice flour and continue simmering gently till the sauce starts to thicken. Season with salt.
  8. Toss in the jaggery and continue simmering till it completely dissolves to give the sauce its sweet-sour taste. Set aside and keep it warm until ready to serve.

For Quinoa Upma

  1. Boil the vegetable stock in a pan, take it off the fire, and stir in the quinoa. Cover the pan with plastic cling wrap, and set aside for 15-20 minutes till the quinoa softens.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add black mustard seeds. Once the seeds start popping, drop in the turmeric powder, chopped onion, chilli, raisins, cashew nuts and curry leaves and sauté until the onion becomes translucent and the cashew nuts brown a little. Lower the flame.
  3. Add the softened quinoa, combine well with the spice mixture, season with salt and pepper, and finish with the lemon juice and chopped herbs. Set it aside.

To Serve

  1. Season the fish with lemon juice and salt, and pan-fry in clarified butter, skin side down, till it is done and the skin is nicely crisp. Remove from pan, dab gently with a paper towel to remove any excess butter.
  2. Serve with quinoa upma and kairi curry.
Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar, the chef-founder of Qualia in Mumbai, was Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for June. He started his culinary journey 35 years ago in the US, returning to India in 1989. Since then, he has been busy changing the way we eat. Known for setting industry trends with his creative, ingredient-driven cuisine, and warm attentive hospitality, Rahul’s award-winning restaurants secured his position as one of India’s first successful, chef-restaurateurs. In his career, he has won many accolades – he was featured in Asiaweek’s Survey of “Kitchen Gods” in 2001 and was 28 on San Pellegrino’s List of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. More recently, he won Chef of The Year at the Times Food Awards 2016, Mumbai. He has been guest chef in several kitchens around the world, authored numerous articles, and frequently consults to the food and hospitality industry.

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