Vermicelli (Semiya) Upma

Honestly, I have a blissful relationship with ‘vermicelli’ – always there to comfort me during crisis times. A blessing in my pantry and a life-saver during times when I run out of dosa or idli batter. Doesn’t need much to work on, just add vegetables for some nutrition and you have a one pot meal ready for lunch or dinner in less than 20 mts.

I made an easy, tasty and light breakfast dish, Semiya Upma, this morning. I like to add tomatoes and coriander to vermicilli upma and also a cinnamon stick during the seasoning process, giving the semiya just the right amount of spice and aroma. For those of you who dislike vermicelli, maybe it’s time to overcome your fears and give it the attention it deserves.

Semiya Upma Recipe

Prep & Cooking Time: 20 mts

Serves 4-5 persons

Cuisine: South Indian



2 cups vermicilli, roast in a tsp of ghee for 4-5 mts till golden brown

1 finely sliced large onion

3-4 slit green chillis

1″ ginger finely chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (optional)

1/2 tbsp oil

1 tsp ghee or butter


For seasoning:

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tbsp split blackl gram

1/2″ cinnamon stick (optional)

12-15 curry leaves

1 Boil 4 cups of water and add the vermicelli along with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp oil. Once the vermicelli is cooked (it should be just soft and not mushy), turn off heat, pour the vermicilli into a colander to drain completely and pour cold water over it and keep aside.
2 Heat oil in a cooking vessel, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the black gram, cinnamon stick and curry leaves and saute them till the dal turn slightly brown and a nice aroma emanates the kitchen.
3 Add the sliced onions, green chillis and ginger and saute for 2 mts.
4 Add the chopped tomatoes and saute on medium heat for 4 mts. Add salt to taste (remember you have already added salt to the boiling vermicilli, so add accordingly).
5 Now, add the cooked semiya to the sauteed onion-tomato base and mix it lightly and see that no lumps form and it combines well. Add a tsp of ghee or butter and combine well. Garnish with coriander leaves.
6 Serve hot with chutney or pickle of your choice.


For variation, garnish with grated coconut and add 1″ cinnamom stick (during seasoning). You can added roasted cashews too.

Vermicelli (Semiya) Upma

  Prepare time:
 Serves: 2

 Main Ingredients:

  •  vermicelli


34 thoughts on “Vermicelli (Semiya) Upma

  1. Madam,

    Bit confused. The last but one sentence call for adding the cooked semiya to the “water”!? You instructed already to drain the vermicelli completely. Pls. clarify.

    Sorry for the typo. It should read ‘sauteed onion-tomato base’.

  2. Shavige upma, yummy! Looks like you love your upma a lot, me too ๐Ÿ™‚ In the hostel mess in Bangalore, sometimes they would combine the regular upma and shavige to make another very delightful dish. And i completely agree, vermicelli is versatile, and always comes to rescue!

  3. Sailu,

    Very tempting picture! I am novice in cooking and have failed miserably in the past trying to make semiya upma this way. A few inhibitons I have are: I can never judge when the semiya is done, I tried adding tomato and the whole upma turned to be like suji upma! Can i cook semiya upma like regular upma (instead of boiling seperately and draining)? I also do a very bad job with semiya payasam. Looks like semiya and I do not get along well. Any tips?

    Yes, SV, you can cook semiya upma like the regular upma. Add water to the onion base and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the vermicelli and combine well. Cover and cook for a few minutes till the water is almost absorbed. Remove lid at this point and on high heat, keep tossing the vermicelli till the water is completely absorbed. For 1 cup of semiya add a little less (about 2 tbsps) than 2 cups water. You will find that it doesn’t form a gooey mass.

  4. “just add vegetables for more nutrition”?
    Vermicelli by itself has not much nutrition value except carbs or am I mistaken?

    Yes, your right, doesn’t have much nutrition value.

  5. Hai Sailu,

    I just so Love your Recipes, the photography is excellent, your recipies really inspire me to cook!!!!!!!!

  6. hey nice receipe sailu.. i loved it..
    sailu, i have sent u my (feeburner)aggregated link on ur gmail id..twice, but TOI is not showing my name in the list.. is there anythg else i have to do.. pls let me reply.thanks in advance.

  7. Hello, I really love your page. I live in the midwestern US and there are not many restaurants with indian food here, so it’s fantastic to find you. I wanted to ask you a question about your layout but your top navigation doesn’t seem to be working and I couldn’t get to your contact page. Where can I email you?


    You can email me at sailusfood [at] gmail [dot] com

  8. hey sailu..
    i really love ur recepies … when u do this semia upma next time ,i want u to suggest to add dondakayaluu.. it comes so well .cut thin into thin slices and after u make poppu add them and fry lil and add some cashews tooo…. i like semia upma only with dondakayalu in it.. try it…

  9. To prevent overcooking of vermicilli, fry the vermicilli with a little oil till it starts turning color and remove from fire. Heat water (1-1/2 cups for 1 cup of vermicilli) in a pan, bring to boil and when it begins to boil really well, turn of the stove, add the fried vermicilli and cover the vessel for no less than 3 minutes. Drain the excess water and use. Run with cold water if required

  10. hi ,
    thank you tons and tons for your website. it is a boon for begginers like me who is newly wed and new to the world ok kitchen.thank you loads

  11. Pingback: Kids Zone » All Breakfast Recipes Evening Tiffin Recipes School Snacks » Vegetable Semiya Upma
    1. Cumin seeds = Jeelakara, Mustard seeds = Aavalu, Black gram dal = minapa pappu, Cinnamon stick = Dalchina chekka.

  12. Sailu, i made dahi-baingan yesterday. My sister is a huge fan of yours. Though the dish did not turn out as nice as i would have liked it, but it was not bad. am following all your dishes and plan to try them one by one. keep your creativity flowing! Cheers,

  13. Hi Sailu,

    Great work, keep it up.

    I tried couple of your recepies, it came out well.

    The way you write the article makes me to understand things in a better way.

    Your recepies rocks!!!

  14. The problem with this recipe is that it is very easy to get wrong i.e., slightly overboil the water and the semiya goes all mushy. On the other hand, I make it like rava upma, that way it always turns out in the consistency shown in your picture. I add 1.5 times as much water as semiya. Always works out for me!

  15. Sailu garu Thankyou very much for sharing this semiya upma. I have tried your version of semiya upma. People who hate semiya also liked and started saying this much tasty will it be??. Adding cinnammon stick gave nice flavour to the upma. Thanks a lot and this recipe will be standard recipe for semia upma in my collection of recipes.

  16. I made this upma for breakfast today…my wife just loved it….we had a great Sunday start…thanks a lot for this recipe..your website is my first default search for cooking….hats off sailu garu

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