Semiya upma is a delicious upma variant made with vermicelli, aromatics, spices, cashews and herbs. This dish is also called as vermicelli upma and has unique flavors and textures. It is very different from the popular South Indian breakfast recipe of upma. A vegan recipe.
Upma is a savory breakfast dish from the South Indian cuisine and made with various ingredients – semolina, oats, millets, quinoa, bread, flattened rice etc. Not only the hero ingredient can be different but the additional vegetables, spices etc can also be unique.
Traditionally the most popular upma is made from rava (cream of wheat). It is such a popular version that you will find it being made in homes for breakfast and also served in restaurants.
Vermicelli upma is another version of this savory dish where the hero ingredient is vermicelli – also known as seviyan in Hindi and semiya in few South Indian languages. This version of upma with vermicelli is also easy to make and tastes equally good.
Semiya are mostly known and used for making Seviyan Kheer or Semiya Payasam. But there are few more vermicelli recipes that are made with semiya like Seviyan Biryani, Meethi Seviyan, Semiya Kesari, Seviyan Pulao etc.
Vermicelli are either made from whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour or rava (semolina) or rice flour or ragi flour. While making semiya upma, I prefer semiya made from whole wheat flour or rice flour or ragi flour as they are more healthy than the ones made from all-purpose flour.
I make upma many times for breakfast. In Maharashtra, Upma and Poha are two popular breakfast recipes. Upma is traditionally served with coconut chutney or lime pickle or lime slices. It can also be had plain. Ideally, it should be eaten hot or warm.
Semiya upma is light on the stomach. To make it more nutritious and flavorful add veggies like grated carrots, steamed peas, grated cabbage, boiled sweet corn and steamed green beans. Sometimes I add steamed green peas and grated carrots to this dish.
This recipe which I have shared here is quick to prepare since I have not added any vegetables as they take more time to cook. So the recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes.
You can serve semiya upma hot or warm with coconut chutney or accompanied with lemon wedges or lemon pickle. It also taste good as is without any sides.
How to make Semiya Upma
1. Firstly heat a heavy kadai or pan. Keep the heat to a low. Take the semiya strands and break them.
Add the semiya strands in the kadai. You will need 1 cup of broken semiya strands or 185 grams semiya. You can also use rice semiya or ragi flour semiya instead of whole wheat semiya.
Note that if you are using packaged roasted semiya then I would still suggest roasting them lightly for a few minutes.
2. On low heat begin to roast the semiya stirring often.
3. Stir often when roasting vermicelli.
4. Roast till the semiya strands become golden. Some strands won’t become golden but it is alright as they are roasted and cooked.
5. Remove the roasted semiya in a separate bowl or plate. Keep aside.
Making Vermicelli Upma
6. Now in the same kadai add 2 tablespoons oil or ghee. Keep the heat to low or medium-low. Then add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds.
You can use any neutral-flavored oil.
7. Let the mustard seeds begin to crackle.
8. When the mustard seeds start crackling, then add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon urad dal (husked and split black gram).
9. Stir and fry till the urad dal starts turning light golden.
10. As soon as urad dal starts turning light golden, at that time add cashews. You can also add roasted peanuts instead of cashews.
11. Mix well.
12. Then fry till urad dal turns golden stirring often. By this time the cashews will also become light golden.
13. Now add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions.
14. Stir and mix.
15. Then add the following ingredients:
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger – You can skip ginger if you do not like its flavor.
- 1 green chili (chopped)
- 7 to 8 curry leaves (chopped)
- 1 dry red chili (broken and seeds removed)
16. Mix again.
17. Now add 1 pinch asafoetida/hing (optional). Mix well.
18. On a low flame sauté till the onions turn translucent.
19. Then add 2 cups of water. You can add water as per the vermicelli package instructions. So add water as required.
E.g. If your vermicelli package mentions adding 1.5 cups of water for 1 cup of vermicelli then add 1.5 cups of water only.
Depending on the size, length and thickness of the vermicelli strands less or more water will be needed for cooking them.
The quantity of water to be added also depends upon the kind of vermicelli you are using. So read the package instructions before adding water.
20. Then add ½ teaspoon sugar or add as per taste.
21. Add salt as required.
22. Mix well.
23. Increase the heat to medium-high or high and bring the water mixture to a rolling boil.
Cooking Semiya upma
24. Then lower the heat and add the roasted semiya.
25. Mix very well.
26. Keep the heat to low or medium-low and let the semiya cook.
27. Stir at intervals when the semiya is cooking.
28. Simmer till all the water is absorbed and the semiya has become soft and cooked well.
29. Then switch off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves.
30. Mix again.
31. Serve semiya upma hot or warm with coconut chutney or accompanied with lemon wedges or lemon pickle.
They taste good as is. But a drizzle of lemon juice elevates the flavors more.
More upma varieties
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Semiya upma is a delicious upma variant made with vermicelli, aromatics, spices, cashews and herbs. This dish is also called as vermicelli upma and has unique flavors and textures.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Firstly heat a heavy kadai or pan. Keep the flame to a low. Take the semiya strands and break them. Add the semiya strands in the kadai.
On a low flame begin to roast the semiya. Stir often when roasting vermicelli.
Roast till the semiya strands become golden. Some strands won’t become golden but its fine as they will be roasted and cooked.
Remove the roasted semiya in a separate bowl or plate. Keep aside.
Making semiya upma
Heat oil or ghee in a pan. You can use any neutral flavored oil.
Add the mustard seeds and let them begin to crackle.
Then add urad dal and cumin seeds. Fry them till they get browned.
When the urad dal begins to become light golden, then add cashews.
Mix well and fry till the urad dal turns golden.
Then add chopped onions. Next add curry leaves, ginger, green chill, red chili and asafoetida.
Mix very well and sauté till the onions become translucent
Now add water, salt and sugar and let the mixture come to a rolling boil.
Cooking vermicelli upma
Lower the heat and add the roasted vermicelli.
Stir and cook the vermicelli till they become soft and all the water is absorbed.
Keep on stirring in between.
When the vermicelli is cooked completely and all the water is absorbed, switch off the heat and add chopped coriander leaves.
Serve the semiya upma garnished with a few coriander leaves along with some lemon or lime wedges.
This savory dish also tastes good as is without any sides.
- If you are using ready-packaged roasted vermicelli then also lightly roast them for a few minutes.
- Use any variety of vermicelli like whole wheat, rice, semolina or ragi flour vermicelli. But remember that you have to add water as mentioned on the package. Adding too much water will make the dish mushy and lacking in flavors.
- Instead of cashews, you can add roasted peanuts.
- The recipe can be scaled.
Semiya Upma | Vermicelli Upma
Amount Per Serving
Calories 395 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Vitamin A 260IU5%
Vitamin C 79.4mg96%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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This Semiya Upma recipe post from the blog archives (first published in June 2013) has been updated and republished on 4th July 2021.