Elumichhai Sevai| Rice Vermicelli Made With Lemon

Elumicchai Sevai or rice vermicelli made with lemon is a popular breakfast option in Tamilian households. No surprises there, considering how quick and easy it is to prepare, and how delicious it tastes! Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Elumicchai Sevai, the way it is made in our family.

Elumicchai Sevai or rice vermicelli made using lemon

A bit about Sevai or rice vermicelli

If you are still wondering what sevai is, it is a type of vermicelli made using rice. In the olden days, raw rice would be soaked, then ground, and passed through a vermicelli press to make fresh sevai – not unlike freshly made Italian pasta or Chinese noodles. These fresh sevai are then cooked in a variety of ways – with lemon, tamarind, coconut, sugar, etc.

Sevai is similar to Idiyappam, yet there are a few differences between the two. Sevai originated in Tamilnadu, while the Idiyappam hails from Kerala. Both are ancient foods from South India, but while Sevai is made using rice, Idiyappam is made using rice flour. Idiyappam used to be made fresh too, in Kerala households, often served with coconut milk and sugar. And then, there’s Semiya, which is another type of vermicelli, but very different as it is made using wheat or refined wheat flour (maida). Semiya too used to be made fresh, in ancient India – with wheat I understand.

In today’s times, we get ready-to-use, dry versions of sevai, idiyappam and semiya. In fact, it is these dry versions that are hugely popular, while the fresh versions have almost become ‘lost recipes of India’. There are very few families that make these from scratch any more, including mine. So, when I talk about sevai being a quick dish, I’m referring to the ready-to-use rice vermicelli available today. There are many different brands available – MTR, Dragon, Anil, 777, Concord and Manna being some of them. These instant versions need to be soaked in hot water or cooked in boiling water – like pasta – to ‘refresh’ them.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that sevai, idiyappam and semiya are all Indian versions of Italian pasta or Chinese noodles.

How to make Elumicchai Sevai

Elumicchai Sevai refers to rice vermicelli cooked using lemon, like I was saying earlier. They taste tangy, with mild heat from green chillies, absolutely awesome. We make it using dry, ready-to-use sevai, and it is a big favourite with everyone at home.

Without further ado, let us check out how to make Elumicchai Sevai, my family’s way.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1-1/2 cups sevai aka rice vermicelli
  2. 1 tablespoon peanuts
  3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  7. 4-5 green chillies
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander


1. Cook the rice vermicelli as per package instructions. Drain out all the water. Allow to cool down completely.

2. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down fully.

3. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep ready.

4. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter.

5. Turn the flame down to medium, and add in the asafoetida, curry leaves, roasted peanuts and slit green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Still keeping the flame medium, add in the drained rice vermicelli. Also, add in salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till everything is well integrated together, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas.

7. Add in the lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Elumicchai Sevai is ready. Serve it hot.

Is this Elumicchai Sevai vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. If you skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, this can easily be made gluten-free too. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India include wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.

#LemonLove at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a group of very talented food bloggers that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of the group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The brilliant photographer and recipe developer Waagmi of Cooking Is Funn suggested the theme for the week – #LemonLove, or recipes made using lemon. Well, thrilling for me considering that I adore lemon and have several lemon-based recipes on my blog already. I chose to showcase our family favourite, Elumicchai Sevai, for the theme.

Some other interesting lemon recipes

You must check out these lovely lemon-based recipes from my blog, as well as those of my friends.

– Waagmi’s gorgeous Eggless Lemon Cake

Lemon Rasam, another of our family recipes

Bruschetta With Lemon Marmalade & Stir-Fried Veggies from my blog, a delicious fusion

Home-Made Lemon Coriander Soup

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar

Colour-Changing Butterfly Pea Lemonade

Lemon Thokku or Instant Lemon Chutney

Home-Made Lemon Squash

Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav

– Poonam’s Lemon Semolina Cake

– Archana’s Spaghetti With Green Olives & Lemon

– Mayuri’s Lemon & Lavender Scones

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used MTR rice vermicelli or sevai here. You can use any other brand you prefer. Dragon and Anil are two other brands of rice vermicelli I have tried and loved.

2. MTR rice vermicelli is thicker than that of several other brands, and has to be cooked in boiling water, in an open pan, for 6-7 minutes. Other brands require the vermicelli to just be soaked in hot water for 3-4 minutes, covered, and they are ready. Please read the instructions on the package carefully before use. Cook the vermicelli as per package instructions.

3. Allow the cooked rice vermicelli to cool down completely before using it in the dish.

4. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, depending upon personal taste preferences. I have slit them length-wise here, but you can even chop them finely if you so prefer. We prefer this Elumicchai Sevai to be quite mild, and not very spicy.

5. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice as per personal taste preferences.

6. I first dry roast the peanuts separately and then add them to the hot oil later. I find they stay much more crisp that way.

7. Some fresh grated coconut can also be added to the Elumicchai Sevai before serving.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!


22 thoughts on “Elumichhai Sevai| Rice Vermicelli Made With Lemon

  1. Lemon flavored rice vermicelli sounds so interesting Priya ! Loved reading about the difference between sevai, iddiyampam and semiya. Even in my family we make the traditional vermicelli every summer. Those sevai are cooked like pasta and served with aamras. Sadly such dishes are labelled β€˜ lost recipes of India’.


  2. An interesting way to prepare sevai with lemon. Am sure will love this as I love lemon rice. Now I just have to wait to get to Bangalore to use the ready made sevai. Don’t think I’ll the patience to make it at home.


  3. Rice vermicelli looks very colorful Priya, surely it tasted yummy. Easy to prepare and perfect for breakfast and dinner. Can feel the flavors of lemon and coriander leaves Priya .


  4. Lemon sevai looks so inviting and perfectly made. I would love all those different flavors of sevai we make and it is absolutely delicious. Using ready made sevai makes the process quicker and simpler.


  5. Sevai is one of our breakfast dishes at times, and I tell the kids it is Indian Noodles. Love your version with lemon, it would add so much to taste. Yummy


  6. I never had rice sevai though my mom and grandmom used to make wheat jave or vermicelli at home when I was kids. Homemade is the best but I don’t have the patience to make these at home… and lemon flavored vermicelli sounds so refreshing light and filling meal for breakfast or dinner.


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