semiya upma

Semiya Upma Recipe (Vermicelli Upma)

By Swasthi on September 8, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Semiya Upma is a popular South Indian Breakfast made with vermicelli, spices, herbs, lentils and peanuts. Also known as vermicelli upma, it is a super quick dish that can be made under 25 minutes. Serve semiya upma for a breakfast or a meal anytime of the day with peanut podi, coconut podi, and coconut chutney or with seasoned yogurt. In this post I share 2 ways to make semiya upma without vegetables and with vegetables.

semiya upma with vegetables

About Semiya Upma

“Semiya” is a South Indian word meaning “vermicelli” & “upma” is a South Indian breakfast made with semolina & tempering ingredients. So semiya upma is a variation of the Rava upma.

Upma is a popular traditional breakfast made with semolina, curry leaves, mustard seeds, lentils, ginger and peanuts. There are many variations of upma made with different ingredients like poha, sabudana, oats, millets and quinoa. Semiya upma is one such variation and made the same way as the rava upma.

In Indian cuisine we make a lot of dishes with vermicelli like semiya payasam, semiya kesari, semiya pulao, meethi seviyan and sheer khurma.

How to choose vermicelli

Different kinds of vermicelli made with many different grains are available in the market. You can find vermicelli made with rice, wheat flour, with semolina, ragi and many other millets. For the traditional semiya upma, wheat vermicelli is used. You can easily find the info labelled on the pack as made from wheat or semolina.

There are 2 kinds of wheat semiya – roasted and unroasted. The unroasted semiya requires roasting them prior to cooking. To save roasting time you may buy roasted semiya and skip the roasting part mentioned in the recipe. However the flavor of pre-roasted semiya is nutty and is completely different.

There are numerous brands selling wheat vermicelli. I use the Bambino or MTR vermicelli as the results are consistent with these brands.

While making semiya upma it is very important to use the right amount of water as we don’t want mushy vermicelli. With the right amount of water it turns out fluffy, non-sticky and beautiful.

For a quick 25 mins meal, make this dish without any veggies or use frozen veggies as chopping fresh vegetables takes some time. On occasions we have the vegetable semiya upma for a dinner with a spicy seasoned yogurt which I have shared below.

Vegetables like carrots, peas and young green beans go well in this. My mom would usually add a parboiled potato to this. But do not add the raw potato as it takes time to cook.

semiya upma - vermicelli upma

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How To Make Semiya Upma (Stepwise Photos)

Roasting vermicelli & peanuts

1. Skip this step if using roasted semiya. Dry roast 1 cup vermicelli (110 grams) on a low to medium flame stirring often until light & slightly golden. Do not brown the vermicelli as the flavor alters. Transfer this to a plate.

roasting semiya in a pan

2. Pour ½ tablespoon oil to a hot pan. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons peanuts. On a medium heat, roast them until golden and crunchy. Remove to a plate and set aside for garnishing.

roasting peanuts


3. Pour 1 tablespoon oil to the hot pan or pot. Add

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (skinned bengal gram)
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (skinned, split black dal)
tempering ingredients for semiya upma

4. Fry all the ingredients until the lentils become golden. Then add 8 to 10 cashew nuts (optional). Saute until all of the lentils become deep golden but not burnt.

frying cashews

5. Then add 1 sprig curry leaves, 1 slit or chopped green chilies and 3 to 4 tbsps chopped onions. (1 small onion)

frying onions

6. Saute until the onions turn golden or transparent. The add a pinch of hing and 1 teaspoon fine chopped ginger. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until the ginger turns aromatic.

frying ginger

7. Pour 1½ cups water and add ½ teaspoon salt. Start with 1/3 teaspoon and add more if required. Stir very well and taste test the water after which you can adjust the salt and spice (green chili). The water has to be slightly salty.

Tip: If using thin vermicelli 1 ¼ cup water would be sufficient.

pouring water and salt

8. Bring the water to a rapid boil. Then add all of the vermicelli at one time. I have used store bought roasted vermicelli here.

adding semiya for upma

9. Mix very well.

10. Cover and cook on a low heat until all of the water is absorbed and the semiya is cooked.

cooking semiya upma

11. When the water is completely absorbed, taste test to check if the semiya is done properly. It has to be soft and fully cooked but not mushy or sticky. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for at least 5 to 10 minutes. This step is important and makes your semiya upma fluffy. Sprinkle some coriander leaves and fresh grated coconut if you want.


I do not add any extra water. But if your semiya is undercooked, bring 1/4 cup water to a rolling boil in a small pan and sprinkle little by little water and cook. The quantity of water I have mentioned works well with both MTR and Bambino.

Garnish semiya upma with roasted peanuts. Squeeze some lemon juice if you like and serve with peanut podi.

semiya upma recipe

How To Make Vermicelli Upma With Vegetables

1. Roast the vermicelli if required. Set aside. For this recipe you will require 110 grams. Pour half tablespoon oil to a pan and roast the peanuts on a medium heat until golden and crunchy. Remove to a plate and set aside for garnish.

3. To the same pan, pour 1 tablespoon oil and add –

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal
tempering spices in oil to make semiya upma

4. Fry until the dal turns lightly golden. Add –

  • 1 pinch hing
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon chopped ginger(optional)
  • 1 chopped green chili.
adding curry leaves ginger chilli to oil

5. Add 1 small sliced onion and saute until transparent. Optional – You can also skip the vegetables. Add ¾ cup mixed vegetables – carrots, peas and french beans. Ensure the veggies are fine chopped otherwise they won’t cook fast. I sprinkle little salt so the veggies release moisture and cook easily.

sauteing veggies to make semiya upma

6. Cover and cook on a low flame till they turn tender and almost cooked. If they don’t cook well, then sprinkle little water and cook.

cook the veggies covered till soft

7. Add salt and pour 1½ cups water. Stir and taste test the water. It has to be slightly salty. If using thin vermicelli 1 ¼ cup water would be sufficient.

pouring water to the pan

8. Bring it to a rolling boil on a high flame.

boiling water with spices to make semiya upma

9. Add the roasted vermicelli. Stir well to prevent lumps.

adding roasted vermicelli to make upma

10. Cook on a medium high flame till all the water is absorbed. By then the semiya should be cooked well. (Troubleshooting tip: If the semiya does not cook well then boil little hot water and pour it here. Read tips below.)

water absorbed completely

11. Cover and cook on a low flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off and rest for 5 minutes.

cooking semiya upma in a pan

When the temperature comes down a bit, sprinkle lemon juice and add coriander leaves. Mix and garnish with roasted peanuts or cashews. Serve it hot with peanut podi.

semiya upma recipe

This is the semiya upma I made without veggies. It turns out good even without veggies.

Pro Tips

1. There are 2 kinds of semiya in the market – roasted & unroasted. If using preroasted vermicelli, you don’t need to roast them again. Otherwise you have to roast them following my step 1 otherwise the dish will turn mushy and sticky.

2. The quantity of water to use differs for thick and thin variety vermicelli. I use the thicker bambino semiya which takes 1½ cups water for every cup of semiya. If using thin semiya then it would only need 1¼ cups.

3. Semiya upma is always made with wheat vermicelli and not with rice vermicelli. If using rice vermicelli, then boil them following the instructions on the pack. Drain them and then just do the tempering without adding water. Then just mix the precooked vermicelli there. Cover and cook for 1 to 2 mins.

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Recipe Card

Semiya Upma Recipe (Vermicelli Upma)

Semiya upma is a simple South Indian Breakfast made with wheat vermicelli, tempering spices, nuts and herbs. It is also known as vermicelli upma and is variation of the rava upma. Instructions for instant pot and stovetop included.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time8 minutes
Cook Time17 minutes
Total Time25 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup semiya (110 grams vermicelli)
  • cups water for thick semiya (1 cup for thin variety,1¼ cup for instant pot)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 small onion (3 to 4 tbsps, thinly sliced or chopped)
  • 1 green chili slit or chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ginger chopped finely

Tempering ingredients for semiya upma

  • tablespoon oil or ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal (split bengal gram) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (skinned black gram) (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon peanuts or cashews (or both)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (to serve, optional)

optional ingredients

  • ¾ cup mix vegetables carrot, peas, green beans – fine chopped
  • 2 tablespoon coriander leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh grated coconut for garnish



  • If using roasted vermicelli, then skip this step. Dry roast semiya uniformly on a medium flame until lightly golden. Keep stirring and fry without browning them. They will turn light when done. Transfer to a plate.

How to make Semiya Upma

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add peanuts or cashews. Fry them until golden and crunchy. Remove to a plate.
  • To the same pan add mustard, cumin, chana dal & urad dal . Fry until the dal turn golden and roasted well.
  • Next add hing, onions, ginger, green chilli and curry leaves. Fry for about 2 to 3 minutes until the onions turn transparent or light golden.
  • This step is optional. If using carrot, beans and peas add them now and saute for another 3 mins. Cook covered on a low flame till they turn slightly tender.
  • Pour water and add salt. Stir and check by tasting the water. It has to be slightly salty. If needed add more salt. 
  • Bring it to a rapid boil. Transfer roasted semiya to the pan & stir immediately.
  • Cook covered on a medium flame till all the water is absorbed by the vermicelli. (If you feel the semiya is uncooked then pour little boiling water. You may need about ¼ cup more)
  • Once the water is absorbed, mix well and cook covered on a lowest heat for 2 minutes. Turn off and rest for another 5 minutes.
  • When the temperature cools down a bit sprinkle some lemon juice & coriander leaves.
  • Garnish semiya upma with grated coconut (optional), roasted peanuts or cashews. Serve with peanut podi or pickle.

Instant pot semiya upma

  • Follow all the steps on a saute mode. Add semiya and mixed vegetables if using. Pour 1¼ cups water and deglaze.
  • Secure the IP with the lid and position the steam release handle to sealing. Pressure cook for 1 minute. When the instant pot is done, wait for 2 mins and release the pressure manually.
  • Remove the steel insert and fluff up with a fork. I keep it covered further for another 5 to 10 mins. Serve semiya upma hot.


  • Pre-roasted semiya is easily available in Indian grocery stores. I feel the home roasted semiya (from raw) and store bought pre-roasted have a different flavor. 
  • Usually Bambino Semiya takes up to 1½ cups water for 1 cup semiya. MTR pre-roasted requires 1¾ cup water without vegetables. 2 cups if using fresh vegetables (not frozen). This is just an approximation and please adjust.
  • Always keep ¼ cup boiling water ready on the side, if you feel the upma is undercooked, pour that at the last stage.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.


NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Semiya Upma Recipe (Vermicelli Upma)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 295 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 708mg31%
Potassium 391mg11%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 3621IU72%
Vitamin C 44mg53%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Semiya upma recipe first published in May 2015. Updated and republished in July 2021.

Semiya Upma Recipe (Vermicelli Upma)

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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Curious what makes this the perfect “breakfast” dish? I made it as a side for tandoori chicken. It was amazing!

5 stars
Good guidance here, thank you!

5 stars
Excellent recipe. Really liked it.

I tried it… Came out well.. Thank you 🙂

5 stars
Food tastes better when we cook with your Recipes
Keep going
God Bless

5 stars
Excellent recipe.

I tried your recipe and it came out very good. If I use 2 cups of Bambino brand vermicelli, how much of water should I use? My husband likes upma with vegetables.

Your recipes are simple, easy and turn out delicious. Always check your recipes before trying something new. Cheers!

5 stars
I like your way of making breakfast items. Thus, I always follow you.
Thanks for your simplicity.

Hi. I would love if you link down your pot used. Looks pretty.

Hi it will be so helpful to show pictures of thick vs thin semiya. Could you please if you see my comment? ❤️


5 stars
Nice,good explanation

would be great if you could mention measurement in grams for a serving

5 stars
it remind me of my school days , my grandma used to cook this

5 stars
I used to eat this semiya upma in my office canteen and liked it very much. Since then I was searching for this recipe.
Finally I found this. Thanks a lot for this detailed step by step recipe. ?

5 stars
Recipe with tips is so useful. Perfect measurements for different type of vermicelli. My kids and mother in law absolutely love this dish. Must try for everyone. Combination of veggies makes it yummier and healthier! Thank you ?

Water you have mentioned for thick sevai is too much.. Mine came out sticky.


Tried the vegetable semiya upma today. Turned out just perfect. The details of water ratio provided for different types of vermicelli was informative.

Very very tasty semiya upma. Thank you Swasti very much. For two and quarter glass of semiya I used two and half glass water. It was proper. Will your other recipes too.

You put a good amount of effort and research in your recipes. I liked the little details like different water ratios fir different vermicellis, different cooking techniques and also a separate step by step photo. Most bloggers/authors don’t do that.

Amazing recipe for beginners

5 stars
Dear Swasthi, your recipes are all mind blowing!! Simple and easy to follow… a real treat for a cooking novice like me!! Thank you and God Bless