Home / Breakfast / Zero Oil Polenta or Cornmeal Upma (Easy Savory Snack)
28 May, 2015

Zero Oil Polenta or Cornmeal Upma (Easy Savory Snack)

Comments : 28 Posted in : Breakfast, Easy lunch box recipes, snack on by : apsara Tags: , , ,



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Binge with DFT this time in OIL FREE Madness!



Cornmeal is coarsely ground corn or maize. Polenta refers to the cooked form of it, an Italian dish that is made by boiling cornmeal in water. Stone-ground cornmeal is a healthier version that retains parts of the hull and germ from the corn and contains more nutrition as compared to steel-ground cornmeal. It is the better choice for diabetics too, for the same reason.


Why would anybody want to eat with zero oil and fat? Usually someone with heart disease on a mission to reverse it and follows, for example Dr. Esselstyn’s protocol for a nutrition based cure (plant-based whole foods diet). It is beneficial for health-conscious people and an excellent way to lose weight.

This week as our theme in DFT is making a dish with absolutely no oil, I decided to make upma, a south-Indian dish that is regularly made with some or lots of oil, depending on who prepares it. I usually use a tablespoon of oil for making upma. But this common dish can be easily adapted to suit the needs of a person on a zero oil/ zero fat diet too.

One essential kitchen utensil that is required for oil-free cooking is a non stick pan. I have used my ceramic coated pan that makes oil-free cooking a breeze!

I have made this upma very simple and fast by using a pressure cooker for cooking the cornmeal. The texture, as you can see in the picture below is just perfect for upma, not mushy but almost powder-like consistency. I like my upma that way!

Zero Oil Cornmeal or Polenta Upma (gluten-free, vegan)

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


organic cornmeal- 1 cup

water- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp.

chopped green chillies- 1-2

finely chopped onion- 1 small

chopped bell pepper- 1/2

cubed carrots- 1

cubed potato- 1 small (optional)

lime or lemon- 1

black mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp.

asafoetida- a pinch

turmeric powder- a pinch

curry leaves and cilantro for garnish


1. Dry roast the cornmeal first and set aside to cool.

2.  Add it to your pressure cooker safe utensil along with 1 1/2 cups of water, close with a  lid and cook (2 whistles).

3. Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, add mustard seeds. Let them pop gently (yes, you can do it even with no oil!) and then add the onions, chillies and bell pepper. Sprinkle water as needed and add salt, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Let them turn tender.

4. Add the other veggies, add more water as needed, cover and let them cook till tender.

5. Remove the cooked cornmeal from cooker, add salt, fluff with a fork and mix into the pan with the veggies.

6. Juice half a lime over it after you take it off the stove.

7. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with some chutney or your favorite side dish.

Check another way of preparing polenta upma from my dear blogger friend Charanya here.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or dietitian. My knowledge and information is based on my research and reading from different resources. Please consult your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to your diet.

Check the other DFT posts from my friends. All of them are Oil Free!!!

Sonal: Methi Paneer/Tofu curry

Prachi: Thai Salad Corn Tacos

Anupama: Kothimbir Vadi

Swati: Lauki Koftas

Shailaja: Egg Masala Curry

Srividhya: South-Indian Quinoa Stew with Veggies

Suchitra: Ragi or Finger Millet Porridge

Chaahat: Peas Pilaf

Sharing at the Plant-Based Potluck #47 at Urban Naturale!




28 thoughts on : Zero Oil Polenta or Cornmeal Upma (Easy Savory Snack)

  • Sonal
    May 28, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Love love love everything about this dish Apsara! Will try it soon. Can we cook the corn meal in the pan with other veggies?

    • apsara
      May 28, 2015 at 1:39 am

      Thank you, dear. Yes, absolutely! That is the way Charanya has made it in her recipe that I have linked in this post.

  • May 28, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Never realized that Upma could be made without oil Apsara! Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe!

    • apsara
      May 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Very glad you like it, Suchitra. ♥

  • May 28, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Apsara, the water has to be mixed added to the cornmeal or to the cooker itself and just steam the cornmeal??

    • apsara
      May 28, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      I just add the water in a vessel with the cornmeal, close lightly with a lid and keep it inside a pressure cooker with water in the cooker too. Just like regular rice cooking.

      • May 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        Oh ok understood. thanks Apsara for the explanation.


    • apsara
      May 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      thanks, dear.

  • May 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    This looks so good Apsara! I have never had Upma and am always looking for ways to use polenta…love it! I’ve also never heard of asafoetida, so you expanded my cooking vocab with this one…thanks for the great post!

    • apsara
      May 28, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you for stopping by, Michaell. Very glad you like this one. Hopping over to your space now…

    • apsara
      May 29, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      Yes, Vidya. I did not miss the oil. It tastes a lot like rava upma.

  • May 29, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Apsara this looks so exciting ! I have never tried cornmeal polenta and this recipe is definitely exciting me to make it. Ceramic coated pan is an excellent idea to make this oil free 🙂

    • apsara
      May 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks, Prachi. I love the ceramic pan too!

  • June 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Polenta upma that too without oil sounds great.. also polenta upma is very innovative

    • apsara
      June 1, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      thank you, Sri!

  • Swati
    June 2, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Awesome Apsara…healthy and delicious

    • apsara
      June 3, 2015 at 12:27 am

      thank you, dear.

  • June 4, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Hi Aspara,
    What a delectable dish! I love the inclusion of green chillies and potatoes. I am delighted that you shared your healthy and delicious Polenta recipe with us on the Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up. I appreciate it. I’m pinning and sharing.

    • apsara
      June 13, 2015 at 2:43 am

      Very happy for the opportunity to link up at your site, Deborah. Glad you like it.

  • June 12, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I’m loving this corn meal up ma very much. The texture looks awesome and so inviting Apsara. Can’t wait to try it. Also cooking it beforehand in the cooker is such a brilliant idea!

    • apsara
      June 13, 2015 at 2:44 am

      thanks, dear. I use my pressure cooker for everything, it saves time!

  • June 13, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    I like anything oil-free. This recipe seems so hearty and healthy!!
    Your oil-free idea brought me here. Looking forward to see more recipes!!

    • apsara
      June 13, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Thank you, Puneet. I’m very glad that you find this recipe useful. I’m off to see your site to get inspired too…

      • June 14, 2015 at 8:44 am

        You are welcomed!!

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