Cook's Hideout: Vermicelli Pilaf (Semya Upma) for National Noodle Month

March 31, 2011

Vermicelli Pilaf (Semya Upma) for National Noodle Month

Did you know that March is National Noodle Month? I wanted to make something on this occasion (??), for the past 31 days and as usual the month flew by right in front of my eyes. Well since there are a few more hours left to complete the month I thought I’ll post this yummy semya upma (aka vermicelli pilaf in a fancy way).
I usually end up making a sticky lumpy mess when I make semya, usually because I second-guess myself when adding the water and end up adding way more than needed. But my mom’s method of boiling vermicelli (just like pasta) in lots of salted water for 2-3 minutes until cooked through has solved my sticky mess problem.

Semya Upma

Here’s how I made this dish.
Semya (Short cut vermicelli) – 2 cups (I used Bambino brand available in Indian groceries)
Onion – 2 medium, finely chopped
Potato – 1 medium, diced
Roasted Peanuts – ¼ cup
Tomato paste – 1tbsp
Tomato – 1 medium, chopped
Kitchen king masala – ½ tsp (or to taste)
Lemon juice – 2tsp

For tempering:
Urad dal – ½tsp
Chana dal – ½tsp
Mustard seeds – ½tsp
Cumin seeds – ½tsp
Dry red chili – 2

Vermicelli Pilaf

  • Boil 4-5 cups of water in a large saucepan, and once water comes to a rolling boil, add 1tsp and the vermicelli. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until cooked through (this should not take very long). Drain the water from the vermicelli and keep aside until ready to use.
  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a sauté pan, add tempering ingredients and once the seeds start to splutter, add the onions and sauté until lightly browned around the edges.
  • Add potatoes and roasted peanuts; cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Next add the tomatoes and tomato paste, cook until they turn mushy. Season the veggies with salt and kitchen king masala.
  • Finally add the cooked semya* with the lemon juice and more salt (if needed), mix everything gently. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, so the flavors get a chance to mingle. Let rest for 5 minutes and garnish with coriander leaves before digging in.

Semya Upma
This is a great dish for BLD (Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner). We had ours for dinner with some homemade fruit juice.

* Note: Cooked Vermicelli might turn into a mush if left in the colander/ strainer for too long. Don’t worry, just rinse them under some cold water and squish them around with fingers to separate the noodles.


  1. Beautifully presented dear. I love semiya upma very much. You have tempted me now. I will have to make it soon :)

    Didn't know about the noodle month - thanks for the info :)
    US Masala

  2. Looks perfect and tempting :) We make this for breakfast atleast once in a month :) But will give it a try in your way next time :)

  3. Wat a droolworthy bowl of wonderful looking upma..yumm!

  4. right from my childhood till now semiya upma has always been my fav!
    pics are very nice!

  5. its my fav. it...looks too tempting!
    Smitha's Spicy Flavors

  6. We never boiled first the semiya- we do for tiffin and call it kichdi :) Looks perfect!

  7. this luks perfect. i cook semiya in a different way. this is nice twist

  8. excellent piece of information, I had come to know about your website from my friend kishore, pune,i have read atleast 8 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your site gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanx a lot once again, Regards,
    Semiya upma


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