Semiya Upma | Vermicelli Upma

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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. It is very different from the popular South Indian breakfast recipe of upma. A vegan recipe.

semiya upma served in a bowl with lemon wedges

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 this easy vermicelli recipe 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 vermicelli recipe that 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.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Semiya Upma

Roasting semiya

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.

semiya in a kadai or pan

2. On low heat begin to roast the semiya stirring often.

begin to roast semiya

3. Stir often when roasting vermicelli.

stir often and roast semiya

4. Roast till the semiya strands become golden. Some strands won’t become golden but it is alright as they are roasted and cooked.

roast semiya till golden and cooked

5. Remove the roasted semiya in a separate bowl or plate. Keep aside.

roasted semiya in a bowl

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.

add mustard seeds to oil in a kadai

7. Let the mustard seeds begin to crackle.

crackle the mustard seeds

8. When the mustard seeds start crackling, then add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon urad dal (husked and split black gram).

add cumin seeds and urad dal

9. Stir and fry till the urad dal starts turning light golden.

fry urad dal till 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.

add cashews to urad dal

11. Mix well.

mix cashews with urad dal

12. Then fry till urad dal turns golden stirring often. By this time the cashews will also become light golden.

fry urad dal till golden stirring often

13. Now add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions.

add chopped onions to urad dal and cashews

14. Stir and mix.

mix onions with urad dal and cashews

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)
now add chopped ginger curry leaves dry red chilli and green chilli

16. Mix again.

mix them with urad dal onions cashews

17. Now add 1 pinch asafoetida/hing (optional). Mix well.

add hing and mix

18. On a low flame sauté till the onions turn translucent.

saute the onions till 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.

add water as required reading the package instructions

20. Then add ½ teaspoon sugar or add as per taste.

add sugar to the mixture

21. Add salt as required.

add salt to the mixture

22. Mix well.

mix salt and sugar with the mixture

23. Increase the heat to medium-high or high and bring the water mixture to a rolling boil.

bring the water mixture to a rolling boil

Cooking Semiya upma

24. Then lower the heat and add the roasted semiya.

add the roasted semiya to the mixture

25. Mix very well.

mix semiya with the mixture

26. Keep the heat to low or medium-low and let the semiya cook.

let the semiya cook

27. Stir at intervals when the semiya is cooking.

stir at intervals when semiya is cooking

28. Simmer till all the water is absorbed and the semiya has become soft and cooked well.

cook till water is absorbed and semiya is cooked and soft

29. Then switch off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves.

garnish semiya upma with coriander leaves

30. Mix again.

mix coriander leaves with semiya upma

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.

semiya upma served in a bowl

More upma varieties

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semiya upma recipe, vermicelli upma recipe

Semiya Upma | Vermicelli Upma

Semiya upma is a delicious upma variant made with vermicelli, aromatics, spices, cashews and herbs. This easy vermicelli recipe is also called as vermicelli upma and has unique flavors and textures.
4.76 from 29 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Cuisine South Indian
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3


  • 1 cup broken semiya, seviyan or whole wheat vermicelli or 185 grams semiya, you can also use rice vermicelli
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (husked and split black gram)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped or ⅓ cup finely chopped onions
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger or ½ inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili – chopped
  • 1 dry red chili – whole or broken and seeds removed – optional
  • 7 to 8 curry leaves
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) – optional
  • 2 cups water or add as required
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (optional) or add as required
  • salt as required
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • few lemon wedges while serving seviyan upma


Roasting semiya

  • 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.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Semiya Upma | Vermicelli Upma
Amount Per Serving
Calories 395 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 199mg9%
Potassium 124mg4%
Carbohydrates 70g23%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 260IU5%
Vitamin C 79.4mg96%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 1.2mg7%
* 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.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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  1. Thank you for your recipes. I have been following them for 4 years now. Good branding you are bringing about on your page. Keep it going so. Nutritional information is a good thing. 👍5 stars

    1. Thank you and nice to know that you have liked the changes we have made. Welcome.

  2. Hi Dassana,
    Awesome recipe neatly explained & guided.
    Could you please share the details of the vessel used for this recipe.
    Thanks5 stars

    1. Hi Padmaja, thank you. It is a cast iron kadai I purchased from amazon. The brand is zishta.

  3. I absolutely love it blog.. it’s my way-to-cook :-))) it’s perfect and so o helpful!!! Thank u a big big one!

  4. Like the movie Julie and Julia I am trying to mimic your recipes……it feels liberating when time the proportions turn out to be so accurate…….Chef thanks for a wonderful me time5 stars

    1. wow… that is a cool and awesome feedback shruti. i have seen the movie and i loved it. in fact when i also cook or bake, i have a lovely me time. this happens more in baking as i love it. thanks a lot and i wish you all the best.

  5. My go to page when it comes to cooking is veg recipes of India. Thank you for your recipes mam.

  6. Hi Dasana – you made such a positive difference to my cooking! If I follow your recipies to the T, there’s no way anything could go wrong. Thank you for this biggg help.
    God bless you.5 stars

    1. thanks a lot indu for the positive comment. so glad to know. thanks again and happy cooking.

  7. Simple and wonderful…..anyone can try ur recipes. Thank you Dasanna for making cooking even more exciting. Look forward to seeing many more in the future.5 stars

  8. Really helpful I was not sure about the quantity of water to be added. And let me thank u again & again as I have learned each and every recipe from your site itself as I knew nothing about cooking.
    I just love your method of explaining everything in detail.

    Thanks a lot.4 stars

    1. thanks satakshi. glad you liked the semiya upma recipe. also nice to know that the website has helped you in trying other recipes. i do prefer to write in detail so that it helps the reader when cooking as everybody is not a pro in cooking. thanks again.

  9. Hi,

    Do I have to add the urad dal? Or can I substitute the it with something else? If not, where can I buy the urad dal?
    Thanks 🙂

  10. You know what, the way I have been making it for years:

    I boil the vermicelli in ample water and a tsp of oil and sieve it. Then wash it once under cold water and keep aside.
    In the meantime, I put in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and all else you’ve added. I also use bell peppers and tomatoes and saute it well. then, without adding water, I add the boiled vermicelli and cook it on low flame for about two minutes. Done!

    This way, it’s richer, has more flavours, and also isn’t sticky. 🙂

    I will try this method too. Adding water first and then cooking it., Let’s see! thanks 🙂

    1. i have never tried making sweet sevai in microwave. so cannot pinpoint the exact procedure.

    1. deepthi, yes it is available. no particular brand. which ever brand i get in market i use it.

  11. Really like your recipes – they are very detailed and well explained. Thank you!

  12. What Is the quantity of water to be added? Is it exactly double as that of vermicelli?

    1. aneesha, for 1.5 cup of vermicelli, use 1 cup of water. it is mentioned in the recipe details.

  13. Ur blog is very interesting as if reading a friends mail, so easy to understand n relate. Ñice effort keep up the good work.

  14. Really liked your recipes very simple and easy. I will surely try some of them. Specially this one.