Vermicelli Upma (Semiya Upma)

Upma is very popular South Indian breakfast dish. Upmas come handy as they can be prepared in a jiffy. There are so many varieties of upma and one such variety is the Vermicelli or Semiya Upma. Vermicelli upma or semiya upma is made with vermicelli or semiya cooked along with sauted onions, vegetables, green chilli and ginger. It can be easily prepared and takes very less time and tastes yummy.

Vermicelli Upma

Vermicelli Upma

Vermicelli or semiya is used as an ingredient in either spicy or sweet preparations. The spicy version is made into Vermicelli Upma or Curd Semiya or Semiya Biryani/Pulav and so on. The sweet version is prepared as the Semiya Kesari or the famous Semiya Payasam or Seviyon Kheer.

I normally resort to making vermicelli upma when I run out of idli dosa batter or when I have got very little time to prepare breakfast. You can make it healthier by adding veggies like carrot, beans, peas, potato, or cauliflower. As my family likes this upma plain, I rarely prepare it by adding vegetables.

As vermicelli is made out of whole wheat, this is a very healthier breakfast and also it consumes hardly one or two teaspoons of oil.


Vermicelli – 1 cup (200 gms)
Water – 1.5 cups (300 ml)
Onion – 1 medium sized finely sliced
Green chilli – 1 or 2 slit
Ginger – ½” finely chopped or grated (optional)
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Salt to taste
Ghee – 1 tsp

To temper
Oil – 1 or 2 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – ½ tsp
Chana dal – ½ tsp
Jeera or cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Hing or Asafoetida – a pinch (optional)


Preparation time – 10 mins
Cooking time – 10 mins
Total time – 20 mins
Serves 2 people

  1. Roast the semiya or vermicelli until light golden brown using one tsp of ghee and set it aside. If using roasted semiya, skip this step.
  2. Heat 1.5 tsps of oil in a pan or kadai. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  3. Add the hing, urad dal, chana dal and cumin seeds. Let the dals turn golden brown.
  4. Add the onions along with the curry leaves, ginger and green chillies. Saute till the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add 1.5 cups of water along with salt to taste. Let the water come to a rolling boil.
  6. Lower the flame and add the roasted semiya or vermicelli to the boiling water. Stir it well so that no lumps are formed.
  7. Cover and cook till all the water is completely absorbed and the vermicelli is fully cooked. Switch off the flame.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves or curry leaves.

Serve it plain or with coconut chutney or pickle or with sugar just the way kids would love to eat it.

Vermicelli Upma

Vermicelli Upma


  1. I used Bambino vermicelli, thicker variety, which needed to be roasted.
  2. For the above quantity, I have used around 300 ml of water. Depending on trial and error, one can easily learn the correct quantity of water to be used for the vermicelli variety used. As a guideline, if you are using thin variety of vermicelli, the ratio of vermicelli to water is 1 cup:1 cup. If using thick variety, the ratio is 1:1.5.
  3. You can add a handful of peanuts or cashewnuts along with the dals while tempering.
  4. For extra flavor, you can use ghee for tempering or drizzle it over the upma before serving. Even lemon can be squeezed over the upma for a tangy taste.