Instant Pot Jowar Upma

Instant Pot Jowar Upma

Our Instant Pot Jowar Upma is inspired by traditional jowar upma, a savory Indian porridge. Rather than soaking and then cooking the sorghum for hours, we are preparing it in the Instant Pot, and using whole grain sorghum (as opposed to pearled or split), which yields a heartier texture. The result is a satisfying plant-based dish that can be portioned as a main course or side and eaten hot or cold.

This is a flavorful but mild recipe, perfect for summer parties, lunches, kids and adults alike. More peppers can be used for a hotter dish and we used serrano pepper in place of traditional Indian green chili pepper because it is easier to find. Kashmiri chili peppers can be found dried in just about any international food market or Indian grocer. We found all our spices (Indian foods aisle) and fresh curry leaves (produce section) of a local Illinois grocer called Valli Produce. You can buy curry leaves dried online, but there is no substitute for fresh and it’s a great opportunity to check out neighborhood international and Indian grocers and support small businesses. More shopping tips following the recipe.

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Instant Pot Jowar Upma

Instant Pot Jowar Upma

Instant Pot Jowar Upma is a nutritious and satisfying plant-based Indian dish that can be served as a main course or a side. 

  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 48 Servings 1x


  • 2 1/2 cups hot water 
  • 1 cup whole grain dried sorghum (we used Bob’s Red Mill), rinsed
  • 5 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 Roma/plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium lime, juiced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 whole dried Kashmiri chili pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 small fresh serrano pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, chopped 
  • 1 small green zucchini, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh peeled ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving


Making the Sorghum

  1. Place sorghum in a fine mesh sieve, pick out any debris or bad bits, then thoroughly rinse with cold water. 
  2. Coat the bottom of the Instant Pot with 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil to prevent burning. Add the rinsed sorghum, water, Kashmiri chili pepper (whole), half of the serrano pepper, 2 whole curry leaves, tomatoes, and salt to the Instant Pot. Set to Manual High for 30 minutes. Allow natural release for 15 minutes, then vent manually and remove the lid. 

Prepping the Vegetables

  1. While the sorghum is cooking, finely dice the remaining half of the serrano pepper, mince the ginger, and thinly slice the onions (reserve some of the greens for garnish). Place in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Thinly slice the three remaining curry leaves crosswise and place in a small bowl or pinch bowl with the mustard seeds. Set aside.
  3. Prep the red bell pepper and reserve until end of the recipe. Chop the yellow summer squash and zucchini into small bite sized pieces, 1/2″ or less. You should have about 2 cups once chopped. 
  4. When the cook time ends on the sorghum, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced curry leaves and mustard seeds and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the diced serrano pepper, sliced onions, and ginger. Continue stirring frequently and cook another 2 minutes, just until the ginger is fragrant. 
  6. Add the yellow summer squash and zucchini, stir, and remove from heat as soon as the squash and zucchini start to become crisp-tender, just 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl so the zucchini and squash do not cook further.

Putting It Together

  1. By now, the sorghum should be ready to vent. Once the pin drops, remove the lid. Remove the inner pot and strain off any excess liquid from the sorghum mixture, then return the mixture to the pot. Remove and discard and curry leaves. For mild, remove and discard the peppers, otherwise dice the peppers and return to the pot for more heat.
  2. Juice the lime and add juice to the pot along with the turmeric and paprika. Stir well to combine thoroughly. Add the cooked vegetable mixture and raw red bell pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Serve immediately garnished generously with fresh cilantro, reserved green onion, and lime wedges on the side. 


Store leftovers in a glass airtight container up to 4 days. It is important to use glass as the Kashmiri, paprika,  and turmeric will stain plastic containers. 

Total time does not include pressurizing or venting time.

Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (AS MAIN COURSE ~ 1 CUP, PACKED) – Calories: 220, Fat: 3.3g, Saturated Fat: 1.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 154.7mg, Potassium: 708, Carbohydrates:46.2g total/39.7g net, Fiber: 6.5g, Sugar: 7.5g, Protein: 7.6g, Vitamin A: 44%, Vitamin C: 145%, Calcium: 4.5%, Iron: 17% (based on 2,000 calorie diet). 

Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (AS A SIDE DISH ~ 1/2 CUP, PACKED) – Calories: 110, Fat: 17.g, Saturated Fat: .6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .6g, Monounsaturated Fat: .7g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 77.4mg, Potassium: 354, Carbohydrates: 23.1g total/19.9g net, Fiber: 3.2g, Sugar: 3.8g, Protein: 3.8, Vitamin A: 21.8%, Vitamin C: 72.7%, Calcium: 2.3%, Iron: 8.5% (based on 2,000 calorie diet).

  • Author: Fresh. Out.
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Category: main Course, Entree, Side Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot, Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan



Curry leaves have nothing to do with “curry powder seasoning”. Without getting into a dissertation, curry leaves are used as aromatic herbs like bay leaves. Unlike bay leaves, curry leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a pungent, distinct aroma that is difficult to place. When eaten raw, there is a peppery punch of flavor up front followed by citrus, then a hint of bitterness and a lemony finish. Think lemon scent, not tartness. No description does curry leaves justice – they’re delicious. Fresh curry leaves are stronger and more aromatic than dried. We bought ours fresh and locally for about $3.

Kashmiri chili peppers (also known as Indian red chili peppers) are mildly hot and add color to dishes, much like paprika. Slightly hotter than paprika, they are more astringent and add depth of flavor. Sold whole and dried or in powder form (though powdered may be blended with other peppers), we purchased a large bag in the Indian food aisle of a local international foods store for under $5.

Black mustard seeds are more pungent than their yellow cousins, so we used a combination of both. We purchased a bag of each for about $3 apiece. Yellow mustard seeds are significantly more expensive in the spice rack aisle. There are massive savings to be found in international food aisles when purchasing spices.


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