Semiya (Vermicelli) Upma

Semiya (Vermicelli) Upma


This recipe has become a life saver for hurried weeknights and hearty breakfasts alike! Growing up, the semiya upma I knew was pretty straight-forward and nothing I’d go gaga about. But things sure changed after I adopted the method of pre-cooking the semiya like you would pasta, instead of cooking it with the other ingredients and vegetables (thanks J!). This seemingly subtle difference goes a long way in how the upma”s texture ends up being. This takes guessing completely out of the picture cause you now don’t have to worry about how much water to add to cook it right,  so there’s no risk of ending up with over-cooked or mushy semiya. Plus, most of the starch is removed in this process, so the dish itself feels much lighter and almost snack-like.


While adding vegetables in definitely optional, I almost always try to have some frozen cut carrots and peas in the freezer so a handful here and there sure helps to make a meal out of something as simple as semiya. Although this recipe is extremely versatile with most ingredients being optional to suit your preference and convenience, peanuts are a whole different story. Unless you have a very good allergy-backed reason to not eat these crunchy little guys, I suggest you definitely add them. You’ll thank me later!

Semiya (Vermicelli) Upma

Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4


  1. 2 cups semiya (fine whole wheat vermicelli), pre-roasted or dry roast until golden brown and set aside
  2. 2 Tbsp oil / ghee
  3. 1 Tbsp split chana dal
  4. 1/2 Tbsp split urad dal
  5. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  6. 2 Tbsp raw or roasted peanuts
  7. few curry leaves
  8. 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  9. 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  10. 1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped
  11. 1/2 cup green beans, finely chopped
  12. 2 – 3 green chilies, slit (adjust to taste)
  13. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  14. 1″ fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
  15. salt to taste
  16. juice of half lemon or to taste (optional)


Prepare the semiya:

semiya-upma-step-by-step-picture-recipe (1)

  1. Bring water to boil in a pot, add enough salt to make the water salty so the semiya (vermicelli) would absorb some of it.
  2. Add the semiya to the boiling water and cook on med-high for a few minutes, until it is cooked.
  3. When done, remove from heat and drain water immediately.
  4. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process and drizzle some oil and fluff up the semiya so they do not stick together.

Make the upma:

semiya-upma-step-by-step-picture-recipe (2)

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Add the chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Allow seeds to crackle and slightly brown.
  3. Add the ginger and peanuts and saute for a few seconds.
  4. Add the onions and some salt, cook on medium heat until onions are well done and browned.
  5. Add the cut vegetables and peas, green chili, turmeric powder and combine.
  6. Add some water (1/4 cup or less) and cook (with lid on if needed) until the vegetables are done.
  7. When done, saute until all the water has dried up and add more salt if needed.
  8. Add the cooked semiya and combine with vegetable mixture on medium-heat.
  9. When the mixture has fully combined, reduce heat and add lemon juice and mix well. Turn off the heat.

Serve hot with coconut chutney , pickle or enjoy just as-is!

8 Responses to “Semiya (Vermicelli) Upma”
  1. Lubna Karim says:

    Happy to discover your food space…love the yum recipes loaded here…Semiya with vegetables is really filling and satisfying breakie….

    • aishcooks says:

      thanks, Lubna! Just looked through some of your recipes.. wow, quite a spread out there and what lovely pictures! looking forward to discovering more on your blog in the coming days 🙂

  2. Deepthi says:

    Loved it!!!!! And you know why… 😛

  3. I love the way your semiya is perfectly cooked and not all mushy-mushy. I could not agree more that it is a quick and easy breakfast, especially when I am in a rush. 🙂

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