Echinochloa Frumentacea: Barnyard Millet

Also known as vari or sama, this millet is a good choice for the upma recipe because the size and consistency of the grain is somewhere between that of semolina and short grain rice, which are used traditionally to make upma. Vari swells easily on cooking and provides binding.

By Salil Fadnis
Published: Thursday 15 February 2024

Salil Fadnis,
General Manager,
Hotel Sahara Star, Mumbai



  • Vari: 100 g
  • Carrot (diced): 1
  • Capsicum (diced): : 1
  • Green peas: a handful
  • Onion (small, chopped): 1 
  • Green chili: 1
  • Ginger (chopped): 1 tsp
  • Coriander leaves (chopped): 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 8-10
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera): 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee: 2 tsp
  • Coconut milk: 1 cup (150 ml)
  • Water: 100 ml
  • Salt as per taste


Heat a pan or kadai (wok) and dry roast the vari, stirring at intervals. The grains should become fragrant and start looking dry, separated and crisp. Remove them before they go brown and set them aside. Heat the ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds, jeera and chopped ginger. Cook lightly and add the chopped onion. Sauté the onions on low to medium-low heat until they soften and become translucent. Add the chopped green chilies and curry leaves. Mix well and keep cooking for a few minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté. Add the water, coconut milk, salt and let it boil. Add the roasted vari and stir till the mix begins to bubble again. Once the vari absorbs the liquids, cover and keep on a low flame for a few minutes. Allow the vari cha upma to cook in its own steam for 2-3 minutes on a low heat. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Salil Fadnis, General Manager, Hotel Sahara Star, Mumbai

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