Semia Upma

Semia Upma – A fantastic tiffin ready in under 30 minutes

Semia Upma is a breakfast or a tiffin variety prepared with vermicelli, vegetables and South Indian spices.

What is Semia Upma?

Semia Upma is a South Indian breakfast or tiffin dish prepared with vermicelli, vegetables, spices, and grated coconut.

Semia Upma is a variation of the traditional upma commonly made with another wheat product – rava/semolina.

This tiffin makes a great dish to pack in kids’ or office lunch boxes along with curd and a salad.

Semia is also known as seviyan or vermicelli. It is a ready to cook staple available in local and online stores.

Semia Upma

Ingredients for Semia Upma

The principal ingredient for Semia Upma is Semia also known as Seviyan, Vermicelli. Seviyan is a Persian word that describes noodles made with refined wheat flour.

What is Semia? – Semia is noodles made with refined wheat flour, i.e., Maida. With the use of precise proportions of maida, hot water and salt, the ingredients are mixed and kneaded in a machine, squeezed out into thin noodles shape and allowed to sun dry. These sun-dried noodles get broken into equal sizes, followed by the packaging process.

If you see the term “roasted vermicelli” on the packet, this means that the noodles have gone through another process, that is the roasting process. This gives semia that classic golden colour that we usually see in semia pulav or semia kheer.

Check out this video on the semia manufacturing process – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw68PFN4LM0

You may use either the white coloured or the golden roasted ready to cook semia. But the roasted semia is most commonly used in preparing payasam or other Indian sweets.

Vegetables – You may use a variety of vegetables such as carrots, peas, potatoes and beans. By adding more vegetables, the dish will make quite a filling tiffin/breakfast item.

Nuts – You can use peanuts or cashew nuts in the upma to give it that lovely crunch texture.

Spices – In an upma, you typically use South Indian spices like mustard seeds, split urad dal, curry leaves, chopped ginger, and asafoetida.

Garnish – drizzling lemon juice and grated coconut at the end of the cooking process gives the upma a slight tart and sweet flavor, making this upma an absolute delight!

How to prepare Vermicelli Upma?

Prep Work

Place a pot of water and allow it to come to a boil. Once the water has boiled, bring the heat to a simmer and then add the vermicelli to it. You can then add 1 teaspoon of salt to this water and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until the semia has cooked through.

You can check if the semia is cooker or not with the help of a spoon. Take a large spoon and scoop out a few stands of the semia and then carefully try to squeeze the semia. If you can squish it without effort, it means that the semia is ready to use. Alternatively, you can also use a knife to cut into the semia to check.

Once the semia is ready, drain the hot water with the help of a sieve. Pour some cold water or you can also run some clean tap water over the sieve to stop the semia from cooking further. Leave the semia in the sieve for the water to drain out completely.

Next, chop the onions, ginger, green chillies and the vegetables you plan to use into small pieces. Cutting the vegetables into small pieces will allow for them to cook faster and evenly.

You can next wash the curry leaves and coriander leaves. Chop the coriander leaves and keep aside.

If you are using grated coconut, take it out of the fridge or grate some fresh coconut.

Cooking the Semia

Place a Kadai on a medium flame and add two teaspoons of cooking oil. When the oil is warm, add the mustard seeds and split Urad dal and allow them to sputter. You may now add the peanuts or cashew nuts if you are using them. Roast them until they are golden brown.

Next, add in the curry leaves, ginger and green chillies. Give them a good mix.

Follow it up with the finely chopped onions and stir until they are soft. Next, add the turmeric powder and salt.

You may even add a couple of chopped tomatoes at this stage. If you are using the tomatoes, you can immediately add the turmeric powder and salt. This will help the tomatoes cook faster. Stir until the tomatoes are mushy.

If you are using vegetables such as carrots, beans, potatoes and peas, add them at this stage and sprinkle a little salt. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water, mix and cover the pan with a lid for the vegetables to cook.

With a spoon, try to cut the vegetable. If the vegetable cuts without effort, you can proceed to the next stage. Now, the base masala for the semia upma is ready.

Next, add the cooked semia to the pan and mix until the base masala is well coated to all the strands of the semia. Adjust the salt at this stage if necessary. Turn off the flame.

Finally, add a handful of grated coconut followed by a generous drizzle of lemon juice.

Mix the Semia Upma well and serve it hot with coconut chutney.

Storage & Shelf Life

Semia Upma is best eaten on the same day or fresh off the stove. If you are eating the upma right away, you can add the grated coconut.

If you are packing semia upma for tiffin box, you can avoid adding the grated coconut. Since coconut might go bad in the heat, the semia upma will be inedible, especially if you are carrying a dabba for dinner.

Semia upma stores well for a couple of days in the fridge. Keep the upma out of the fridge for 15-20 minutes before reheating. After reheating, do not store semia upma in the fridge again.

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Semia Upma

Semia Upma

Semia Upma is a dish made with wheat vermicelli served as a breakfast or evening snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine South Indian
Servings 2 people


  • 1 cup Semia
  • 2 tsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Split Urad Dal
  • 7-10 Cashewnuts/Peanuts
  • 1 sprig Curry Leaves
  • 1 Green Chillies
  • 1 Onion small
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Coriander Leaves for garnish
  • Grated Coconut for garnish
  • Lemon half


  • Bring a small pot of water to boil with half a teaspoon of salt. Take enough water to submerge the entire quantity of Semia you are going to use.
  • Once the water is boiling, simmer the flame and add the Semia.
    Cook for 3-5 minutes until soft.
  • Drain the water and run the Semia under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow the remaining water to drain.
  • Place a pan on medium flame and add 2 tsps of cooking oil.
    Once the oil is warm, add mustard seeds and split urad dal.
  • Add cashewnuts and peanuts, (if using) and allow them to brown up.
  • Next, add in the curry leaves, green chilli and onions. Mix well and cook until soft.
  • Add the turmeric powder and allow the onions to cook until soft.
  • Add the cooked semia to the pan and give a good mix. Season the semia upma with salt according to your taste.
  • Garnish with some chopped coriander, grated coconut and drizzle some lemon.
  • Your semia upma is ready!
Keyword Tiffin

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