Baayamma Upma – Left-over rice, seasoned

Every once in a while I find my fridge laden with left over rice. If I am the only one pottering in the kitchen we could detect the leftovers in time, but what with my husband donning the apron sometimes, these leftovers just go unnoticed behind more leftovers in the refrigerator! I complain about them a lot, but many a time they do come in handy especially when I reach home from a long day at work, and my daughter wants me to rustle up something quick because she claims she has been ‘starving’ for nearly an hour!

One such day, I dove into the refrigerator hunting for leftovers, and predictably ‘P’ who was the previous night’s cook had saved a whole vessel of steamed rice sitting in the recesses. This went into the ‘Baayamma Upma’ you see today. Depending upon the intensity of your hunger, you can have this just plain like ‘phodni chi bhaat’, or dressed up with assorted, chopped veggies like carrots, potatoes, beans or peas.

Etymology and Origin: Baayamma Upma:
Baayamma – Name of Granny’s domestic help in Chennai in the 60s.
Upma – See here!  My earliest recollection of actually relishing this is when I returned from school during a cyclone, all wet and cold, treated myself to a hot bath, and allowed my nose to guide me to the divine smell from the kitchen! Mummy had just prepared this quick dish to warm us up! When I asked her who taught her, she told me that Granny used to rustle up this one when her domestic help complained about headaches or fever or hunger to make her feel better! How fortunate, I thought! This is an easy and quick dish, I am sure many of you make, and have given it your own names. Baayamma must have grown old and probably left us all, but she remains here in my kitchen, and now will pass on to my daughter’s too.

Recipe: Baayamma upma – Left-over rice, seasoned (Phodni chi bhaat)


Cold Rice

Mustard seeds
Groundnuts (Optional)
Curry leaves
Split bengal gram / chana dal (Optional)
Oil – 1 tbsp.


Heat Oil. Splutter the mustard seeds. Add Groundnuts and Chana dal, and fry till pink. Add Chopped Onions. Fry till pink. Add the rice and mix well. Serve hot.

Here is the plain version:

And the Veggie version:

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Have your say

  1. how cool – haven’t heard of this!

  2. This is called “fodnicha bhaat” in Maharashtra – usually made with leftover rice 🙂
    We add turmeric and hence it is yellow in colour !
    I make it very often and usually make additional rice so that I can make this 😉
    Best Rgds,
    Sam !

  3. I would take this as comfort food any day. Specially on a rainy day.

  4. I do make this often … but now I have a beautiful name to call it by. 🙂 I sometimes add peanuts when I don’t have veggies.

  5. looks easy n authentic..nice way to use leftover rice

  6. this is a nice way use up the leftover rice! Grannys sure have lot of such wonderful ideas. Upma looks so good and I would go with the veggie version just to make it little healthy, he he!

  7. Nice and mouthwatering pictures, like always!
    I love the smell of rice when it is fried like this. My mom also used to fry the leftovers from the day like in the first version, a lot of times with turmeric.
    A nice post, this one. Memories are so precious, isn’t it?!

  8. Sukanya Ramkumar

    That was a new name for me. Looks so good. Nice pictures.

  9. Thank you for stopping by my blog. :-)Really interesting upma..have never tried it with rice before. Nice way to get rid of left overs! 😀

  10. I make something very similar with leftover rice for brown-bag lunches. Love it. Great pictures.

  11. What a nice way to use all the leftovers. loosk very pretty

  12. That’s one easy way to use up the leftovers. Story behind the title is interesting.

  13. A small surprise waiting for you on my blog. Do stop by!

  14. This is the best way to finish the leftover rice. I make the plain verison(without veggies) with Turmeric and Lemon also making it to the ingredients.

  15. Wow, with leftover rice Upma 🙂 Sounds quick fix meal- love both version!

  16. Anu, Divya, Dindin, Cham, Sukanya – I was under the impression that most Indian Households know of this, but I am pleasantly mistaken;)

    Sameera, I have mentioned that in my post. Maharashtrians call it phodnicha bhaat! But for me this will always be Baayamma in honour of the Lady:)

    Simran, me too! Hey, thanks for the award:)

    Sharmila, chalo naamkaran bhi ho gaya:)

    Uma, yes! Granny’s had the most amazing tricks due to the restrictive times then!

    pg – haan! They are most precious things in this world that can send a surge of warmth every time!

    Vaishali, Its so handy too!

    Sukanya, Aparna – Thank you:)

    Jayasree, Nidhi – Yes it is a quick way to fix meals. I am not a too tangy person but otherwise lime is a good option:)


    cool .. N a nice name too .. we make a similar version, we add turmeric N squeeze in some lemon too .. will try ur veggie version

  18. very nice! baayamma very clever woman! my mom makes this as well – a lil differently – i like your version! will challenge my amma when I reach home! 🙂

  19. This one’s new. I’m seeing a lot of interesting food today.
    Though I make an uppuma with broken raw rice.

  20. Hi, this looks like a wonderful use for leftover rice. I have two (possibly silly) questions though
    1- Wouldn’t the chana daal be still hard? or do I soak it and make it soft before putting it in with the rice?
    2- Is there an alternate to mustard seeds?

  21. Thanks mm. The chana dal will be crunchy but cooked as it gets fried in the oil. You can avoid the mustard seeds or use cumin instead.

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