Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja (Maharashtrian version of Upma)


Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja served with Sev

If you go to Pune, and are looking for a place where you could get authentic Maharashtrian breakfast/tiffin items or snacks, make sure you go to 'Janaseva Dugdha Mandir' on Laxmi Road. As the name suggests, they do sell dairy products in a corner of the eatery, which serves as the shop. However, where you want to go is the modest little restaurant (if that is what I want to call it) inside. It is one of those places, where time has stood still. You could be in the year 2006, but that place still has the atmosphere of the seventies. Wooden benches (nope, no chairs) with white turned yellowish laminate covering, an old clock on the wall sharing the space with a blackboard on which the regular items available are written with white paint. (No menu cards here!) The prices are written with white chalk. Well, they can't be painted, because they can change! By the way, the prices too are as down-to-earth as it gets, the most 'expensive' dish costing Rs. 15. :)

There are a few more signs of it being a pucca old-world, 'Puneri' joint. Like the waitors do not hesitate to tell you, if a dish is over. And they don't feel guilty about it; they keep a perfectly straight face. But then hey, they don't accept any tip either. Moreover, there is no tea or coffee available. If you are thirsty, you can order 'Masala Milk' or 'Kokum Sherbet'.
And to satiate the hunger, there are those mouth-watering traditional Maharashtrian breakfast/tiffin dishes like Batata Wada, Sabudana Khichadi or Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja. The last dish in the list is what I made for breakfast today.

Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja is the Maharashtrian version of Upma. Sanja, the word on its own, means a sweet preparation made with Rava/semolina/cream of wheat and jaggery. However, when paired with the words Tikhat (meaning hot/with chillis) and Meeth (meaning salt), it means the savoury version. Now, is this version of Upma radically different from the other ones in this category? Well, here's the recipe for it. You could find it out yourselves. :)

Recipe for Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja

Serves 4.


1 ¼ cups coarse semolina (known as Sanja/Kesari Rava in Maharashtra)
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 small green chillis, vertically cut into two each
2 ½ cups water
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ cup buttermilk (or yogurt & water mixed to make ¼ cup)
1 tbsp Moong dal, washed (optional)
2-3 tbsp grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
7-8 curry leaves
1 - 1 ½ tsp sugar
1 - 1 ½ tsp lime juice
salt to taste

1 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp ghee (optional)
Sev for garnishing

Before you start:

Roast the semolina without ghee/oil until deep yellow in colour. Spread the roasted semolina on a large plate/tray and let it cool. If roasted and stored like this, semolina stays well for months together. Especially in a hot & humid climate like that of India, roasting stops the semolina from catching worms. Also, when roasted semolina is used, lumps do not form in the Upma/ Sanja.


1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let splutter. Then add chopped onion and green chilli halves. Cover and cook.
2. Once the onion is soft and translucent, add water, turmeric, buttermilk and Moong dal. Add salt, grated coconut, chopped coriander and curry leaves too.
3. Once the water comes to a boil, add the roasted semolina and sugar. Stir well, cover and cook. In case you see the semolina sticking to the bottom of the pan, leave some water onto the internal sides of the pan.
4. T-M cha Sanja is cooked when all the water is absorbed, and the semolina grains look slightly swollen. Turn the heat off; add the lime juice and ghee, if using. Stir the Sanja well.

Serve it steaming hot, garnished with Sev.

In the meanwhile, I will send this post to Nandita as my entry for her Weekend Breakfast Blogging.


Anonymous said...

Oooh... I *love* upma! It looks and sounds so scrumptious; I want some now and am on my way out the door :(

I will certainly try this very soon. Great picture you painted of the little restaurant too, Vaishali :)

Anonymous said...

Losks yummy. Adding buttermilk is new to me. Thanks for sharing.

Ashwini said...

Yep...buttermilk is such a nice touch. And I so want to go to Janaseva now :-) Besides Suvarnarekha!!
I stay in a very Marathi part of Bombay and we have something called Kutirudyog - the restaurant there has amazing Marathi breakfast dishes.

Shammi said...

Upma with buttermilk... that's new to me. Next time I want some quick fix for dinner, this recipe will be it! :) Nice photo, Vaishali. And I love the pink table mat? cloth? too!

Krithika said...

I love to eat at such joints. Next time I go to Pune I will definitely go to Janaseva. Thank you so much for sharing an authentic marathi recipe.

Anonymous said...

I tried your Dal Fry today with nigella seeds. Iam using nigella seeds for the first time in dal's.The ingredients for tadka in this dal is different from the usual tadka's, very very tasty ! Thanx for sharing the recipe.
Iam gonna try your Puran Poli next.Your recipe is a little diff with nutmeg powder, sugar and atta. Shall try it soon ..

Neelu said...

Hey Vaishali,
I love upma too, and mom makes it with buttermilk. We also add veg like french beans, peas ,potato and carrots to upma. Your decoration with sev looks cool.

Anonymous said...

Really? 15 rupees? even now? Rava and buttermilk? Sounds like an intersting combination...

Menu Today said...

Hi Vaishali,
Nice picture and recipe. I too add buttermilk to upma to retain white colour.

Unknown said...

This looks so wholesome and yummy, and simple enough to try out...
Thanks for such a traditional recipe for the event-it's going to be an interesting round up


Tanuja said...

Hi vaishali,

This upma recipe is new to me,ur presentations looks yummy cool,thanks for sharing such a nice traditional dish.

KA said...

Great recipe Vaishali, thanks letting us in on this classic recipe..

Anonymous said...

Never heard Sanja with buttermilk will definitely try it out !!!!

Surya Hith said...

Hi Vaishali,
Although I am a frequent visitor of ur blog,this is the first time I am making a comment.Good recipe. I am from kerala, married to bombay,finally here in US. My mother-in-law had taught me some maharashtrian dishes but it's a new one.Shall try soon..

Anonymous said...

jan-seva brings great memories. It is one place where a non-Puneri can be baptised :-) into a true Maharashtrian-foodie.
I will call your dish a 'Sun'ja, because of the way it looks in the photo!!

Vaishali said...

Maybe you can make a short trip to Germany on your way home from Michigan, Linda? :)

Shilpa, I wanted to blog about this one during your Upma week. If you remember, I had written about it in my comment as well. But never got around to making it then. :(

Ashwini, maybe you can pay a visit to Pune when I am in town? I'll take you to all places with mind-boggling food then. Pune anyway has loads to offer to foodies. :)

Shammi, that pink 'mat' is actually my kitchen apron. *sheepish grin*

Krithika, do you go often to Pune? How about paying a visit to the city when I am around?

Hey, thanks for coming back on that, Priya. I am glad you liked it. Btw, Puranpoli smells divine with nutmeg. Do try it out.

Neelu, I too often add vegetables to Upma/Sanja. That way the Upma tastes different every time, doesn't it?

LG, oh yes, 15 rupees even now. Four people can have their stomachs full only for Rs. 100. Sounds too good to be true in today's times, right?

Thanks for the compliment, MT.

Thanks for the kind words, Nandita. It's gonna be fun every time to participate in your event.

Hey, thanks, Tanuja buddy.

Arjuna, me sharing this traditional recipe is just an attempt to reciprocate your sharing the lovely Pesarapappu Poornalu.

Anon, do let me know in case you try it out.

Vaishali said...

Hey, thanks for leaving a comment, Surya. Btw, as I can see, you too seem to have a blog. I need to pay visit there. :)

Hahahahaha...that was a funny comment, TheOrion. 'Sun'ja? I like it. :)

Priya said...

The T-M S looks yummy Vishali..and the sev garnishing makes it even better. I have never tasted buttermilk and moong dal in upma. The only combinations I have tried are vegetable/tomato/potato bath kinds. Will definitely give it a try soon.

Krithika said...

Vaishali, my in-laws live in Pune. Will let you know when we plan our next trip to India.

Anonymous said...

your upma too sounds delicious....Nice recipe and pics.

Vaishali said...

Buttermilk gives the Upma a smooth & shiny texture, Priya. You will like it.

Sure, Krithika. Would love to see you in my city. :)

Thanks, Lera. I appreciate the appreciation.


When I read the caption "Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja",first thought in my mind was of Janaseva Dugdalaya. One of our favorite.

what you have written about Janaseva is equally true. How many times we have visited Janaseva for Kharvas only to find out constant answer, that is eighter "Sampala" or "Aaj Nahi". only we and Kakasaheb knows.

It also believes in One Dish Program. They will prepare and serve only one dish per day. They have fixed up days for every dish like On Monday only "Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja" , Tuesday only "Sabudana Vada" and so on.

I also like Alepak sold in Janaseva. Once I asked fresh (just prpared, and I was getting restless because of the aroma) Alepak, but the person on the counter refused to do so and insisted on giving Alepak packed earlier for best reasons known to him. I cll it laziness.
My son nowadays simply refuses to enter Janaseva just because of the same reasons mentioned by you. When I mention janaseva, he asks me "when was the last time Shrimant Bajirao Peshva visited here?"

But still I feel its relly worth visiting.

parwatisingari said...

thanks a million, maharashtrain food has me pulling my hair for the past 17yrs. this is something new.

Anonymous said...

i was longing for the T-M upma from janseva..just thinkin how i will get it here in US.But your recipe turned out just like janseva.. enuf to pacify my pregnancy cravings ! thanks so much !
-Suparna Apte

Sharon said...

Vaishali, I live in Pune, but haven't yet visited Janaseva Dugdha Mandir. It's on the agenda next time I am in Laxmi Road. Could you give me a landmark to help me locate it faster?

I love Maharasthrian food, and I will be trying out this Upma soon:) Thanks!

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