Vermicelli Upma, more widely known as Semiya Upma is a popular South Indian breakfast/snack dish. Vermicelli used in India, is made out of maida (all purpose flour) that is ground from very hard wheat. It is simply maida, water, and a little salt. Vermicelli is used in a variety of savory and sweet dishes and one of the more popular recipes is a delicious sweet dish known as Kheer, in North India and ‘Payasam’  in South India. Kheer is also made with rice.payasam-1

Semiya Upma made the traditional way is quite a simple affair that mostly has seasoning ingredients, onion and vermicelli, as you can see from the picture below.


Flour based vermicelli is not highly nutritious by itself since it is made mostly from all purpose flour. It is therefore important to use it mostly as a medium to bind nutritious vegetables together, bringing in the additional texture and flavor. It does have a great fluffy texture and a nutty flavor that blends very well with the vegetables. As with Vegetable Khichdi you can add a variety of vegetables.

The cooking process is quite simple here- this is a very easy dish to prepare. The seasoning ingredients are limited to dry red chili, cumin and mustard seeds (unlike regular upma where curry leaves and urd/chana dal are also used for seasoning). It’s a good idea to add onions first, as soon as you sauté seasoning ingredients. Once the onions turn slightly golden brown, you can add the rest of the vegetables, salt and garam masala, followed by the vermicelli. Add water only after stirring the vegetables and vermicelli for about 2 to 3 minutes at least. This ensures the vermicelli is well roasted.

I typically transfer the contents to a rice cooker for steaming, after I cook in a pan. This helps loosen up the vermicelli and vegetables, giving a fluffy texture. Another way is to add about a teaspoon of olive oil and fluff the contents with a fork after the water evaporates.

Why is this Healthy?

Semiya has some basic protein and carbohydrates. Consumed in small quantities as in this recipe, it is quite wholesome as it is sautéed in coconut oil and steamed along with a number of vegetables that provide a good amount of nutrients and fiber.

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Semiya (Vermicelli) Upma

This is a delicious breakfast/snack dish that’s high in fiber and super easy to make.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 People
Calories 238kcal


  • 1 Cup Vermicelli (Semiya)
  • 1/8 Cup Cabbage Fine Cut
  • 1/8 Cup Green Bell Peppers Fine Cut
  • 1/8 Cup Carrots Fine Cut
  • 1/8 Cup Tomato Fine Cut
  • 1/8 Cup Potato Fine Cut
  • 1/8 Cup Onion Fine Cut
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 Chili Dry Red Chili Small Size
  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil Extra Virgin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt Or To Taste


  • Chop cabbage, green bell pepper, carrots, tomato, potato and onions.
  • Heat oil in pan on low flame and sauté seasoning ingredients (mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chili) and onions. Add chopped vegetables, salt and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add garam masala and mix well
  • Add vermicelli (semiya), mix well and stir for a couple of minutes
  • Add filtered water and cook until all the water is absorbed. Fluff the upma with a fork- you can add a bit of olive oil at this stage to loosen up the vermicelli. Serve with sugar-free tomato ketchup.


Goes well with Tomato Chutney, Tomato Coconut Chutney and and organic sugar-free Tomato Ketchup.
*Use organic ingredients wherever possible


Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 302mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 5.8mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3.1mg

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