Semiya Payasam| Vermicelli Kheer

The festival season is in full swing in India now, with one occasion after the other lined up. Now is the time to gorge on some brilliant food, sweets included. How about making some Semiya Payasam or vermicelli kheer this season?

What is Semiya Payasam?

Kheer in Hindi, Payasam in Tamil, refers to a dessert made using milk. Milk is sweetened, then reduced and thickened till it becomes creamy and delicious. There can be various additions to kheer, such as rice, vermicelli, beaten rice, dried fruits and nuts. ‘Semiya Payasam‘ is the Tamil term for kheer made using vermicelli.

It is a really simple thing to make. If you have all the ingredients handy, this dessert can be put together within minutes. This has become my go-to thing whenever I need to make a sweet dish in a jiffy. In fact, this Semiya Payasam was what I made for Avani Avittam or Rakshabandhan last week.

What goes into my Semiya Payasam?

I usually use vermicelli from the Bambino brand to make this payasam. It is said to be made using wheat rava, thus healthier than most other brands. I’m not sure about this, but Bambino vermicelli does work brilliantly in this dish – they add a lovely texture to the payasam, without losing their shape.

I use full-fat milk from Nandini, and regular refined sugar. I have had several unsuccessful attempts at making this payasam with jaggery, and have decided to stick to refined sugar only.

I don’t load the payasam with ghee, dry fruits or nuts, but use just enough to keep it fragrant and delicious. The amount of vermicelli I use is also limited, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming and the payasam has a liquid-y consistency, the way we like it at home.

I also like flavouring this Semiya Payasam with a hint of rose essence, which can be avoided if you don’t prefer it. That said, it does add a lovely dimension to the sweet treat for sure.

The ingredients used make this Semiya Payasam a completely vegetarian preparation, but NOT vegan (plant-based) or gluten-free.

Semiya Payasam recipe

Here is how I go about making it.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/2 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon of ghee
  2. 2 tablespoons roasted vermicelli
  3. 1 litre full-fat milk
  4. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 4-5 drops of rose essence (optional)
  6. 5-6 cashewnuts
  7. 5-6 almonds
  8. 10 raisins


1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan.

2. Add in the roasted vermicelli. Saute for a minute on high flame.

3. Now, add the milk to the pan. Mix well. Cook on high flame till the milk comes to a boil.

Top left: Step 1, Top right and bottom left: Step 2, Bottom right: Step 3

4. At this stage, lower the flame to medium. Add in the sugar. Mix well.

5. Cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes or till the milk starts thickening. Stir intermittently. Scrape down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan, back into the milk.

6. In the meantime, chop the cashewnuts and almonds roughly. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small pan, and add in the chopped cashewnuts and almonds, along with the raisins. Turn flame down to medium. Allow the raisins to plump up and the nuts to start browning. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

7. Add the fried cashewnuts, almonds and raisins into the milk cooking in the other pan. Allow everything to cook together on medium flame till the mixture reaches a thick but still runny consistency. It will thicken up further upon cooling. Switch off gas at this stage.

8. Mix in the rose essence, if using. Your Semiya Payasam is ready. You can serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Centre left: Scraping down the cream forming on the sides of the pan, Centre right: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Use full-fat milk, for best results. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use, as per personal taste preferences.

3. Like I said earlier, I have used Bambino roasted vermicelli here. You can use any type of vermicelli you prefer.

4. Some people cook the vermicelli in a little water before adding milk to the pan, but I do not do that. The vermicelli gets cooked in the milk itself.

5. I use only 2 tablespoons of vermicelli for 1 litre of milk. The vermicelli swells up quite a bit upon cooking and thickens up the payasam. These measurements work perfectly for us – they yield a rich and creamy payasam that is neither too watery nor too thick. The amount of vermicelli is just right and not overwhelming.

6. You may use more ghee in making the Semiya Payasam, if you so prefer. The above quantities work perfectly for us. Similarly, you may use more dried fruits and nuts if you so prefer.

7. Using the rose essence is purely optional. You can definitely skip it if you are not comfortable using it, or use cardamom powder instead.

8. Make sure the raisins and nuts do not burn while frying them.

11. Remember to cook the payasam in a heavy-bottomed pan only, on medium flame.

12. Stop cooking the payasam when it has thickened considerably, but is still quite runny. It will thicken up some more with time.

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


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