Jhal Sooji

Sooji (semolina) cooked in Bengali spices and seasonal vegetables: a healthy and hearty breakfast.

  • Cooking time
    45 minutes
  • Calories
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This is a Bengali take on the widely known upma, the savoury semolina snack that is eaten all over India in one form or the other. 'Jhal sooji' simply refers to savoury or spicy sooji; this is to differentiate it from the 'mishti sooji', or a sweet semolina preparation. This recipe is perfect as an evening snack or even as packed school lunch. What makes a great jhal sooji? It is fluffy and not lumpy. The end product should look like wet sand with separate grains glistening with ghee. Yet, it is perfectly soft and moist, and should not feel dry when eating. This can be achieved by paying attention to two things—first, there has to be enough fat to coat the semolina grains. This keeps them separate and prevents clumps. Second, the proportion of semolina to water has to be such that it cooks the semolina to perfect softness, but there is no extra water left over. Apart from that, how you flavour your jhal sooji, or what vegetables you put in it, is entirely up to you. Decisions such as whether to put onions, ginger, garlic, the choice of nuts and dried fruits, or the vegetables depend on the season, or your personal preference. The idea is to add different textures that break the monotony of the semolina, while also providing flavours and nutrition.

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4 servings
  • 200 g sooji (semolina)
  • 45 g vegetable oil
  • 18 g ghee
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 50 g potatoes
  • 25 g carrots
  • 40 g cauliflower
  • 60 g onions
  • 20 g cashew nuts
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 g ginger
  • 2 g garlic
  • 20 g raisins
  • 8 g salt
  • 25 g sugar
  • 265 g hot water
  • 3 green chillies
  • ¼ gorom moshla


  1. Cut potatoes and carrots into 1-cm cubes, and cauliflower into 2-cm florets. Thinly slice the onions. Finely chop the ginger. Chop and crush garlic with a knife. Of the three green chillies, slit two and chop one.
  2. Dry roast the sooji on medium heat for 6 minutes, until it gives off a nutty aroma. Stir continuously for even roasting. It should be well-roasted but not browned. Set aside when done.
  3. Heat vegetable oil and ghee in a kadai. Temper with dried red chilli, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. Add half of the curry leaves now, and reserve the other half for later usage. Fry for a few seconds until aromatic.
  4. Add potatoes and fry for 2 minutes. Next, add carrots and cauliflowers consecutively and fry each for a minute. Add onions and fry for 30 seconds. Add cashew nuts and one slit green chilli. Give everything a quick stir.
  5. Add turmeric and mix. Add chopped ginger and fry for a few seconds. Next, add crushed garlic, the remaining curry leaves, and raisins. Mix everything well.
  6. Add the roasted sooji along with salt. Mix using folding motions so that the vegetables don't break. Cook the sooji with the vegetables and spices for 2 minutes. Add sugar.
  7. Pour hot water and stir immediately to prevent lumps from forming. The water will soon get absorbed by the sooji.
  8. Add the second slit chilli. If there are any lumps, break those gently using your spatula. Sprinkle gorom moshla and the chopped green chilli on top.
  9. Finally, add ghee, mix gently, turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before serving hot.

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