Ragi Semiya Upma| Instant Finger Millet Vermicelli

Ragi Semiya Upma is a delicious and easy-to-make breakfast dish, which is perfect on its own or along with some chutney. It refers to finger millet vermicelli cooked the South Indian way, instantly, without any prior preparation. It works well as a light dinner, too!

Ragi Semiya Upma

The health benefits of millets are well known. If you are thinking of incorporating more millets into your diet, Ragi Semiya Upma is an easy and flavourful way of doing so. It is a filling, hearty and satisfying dish.

You get several brands of ready-to-use ragi vermicelli these days – pick up a couple of packs of these, and putting together this upma is a matter of minutes. Sadly, though, some of these millet vermicelli packs contain refined flour (maida).

Today, let me take you through the process of making Ragi Semiya Upma.

Other recipes using ragi

Looking for other ragi-based recipes? There are a few on my blog, which might interest you. Take a look at my recipes for Ragi Roti, Ragi Onion Dosa, Thai-Style Ragi Vermicelli Salad, and Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

Ingredients used in Ragi Semiya Upma

While more elaborate versions are possible, the Ragi Semiya Upma we make at home is very simple, including only a few ingredients.

We use store-bought dry ragi vermicelli to make the upma. The one from Anil brand (shown in the picture below) works well for us. Ragi vermicelli is quite delicate, and one needs to handle it carefully so as to get the right texture of upma – non-sticky, soft and fluffy (see the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section of this post for details on how to achieve this).

Anil Ragi Vermicelli, the brand I use

Finely chopped onions are added in, as is a simple tempering of mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves. We use a couple of green chillies for some mild heat. Fresh grated coconut, coriander and lemon juice take the flavour quotient up by several notches.

How to make Ragi Semiya Upma

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves about 4):

1. 1 pack of ragi vermicelli, about 180 grams

2. 2 medium-sized onions

3. 2-3 green chillies

4. 2 sprigs of curry leaves

5. 3/4 tablespoon oil

6. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

7. 2 pinches of asafoetida

8. Salt to taste

9. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

10. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

11. Juice of 1 small lemon or to taste


Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left: Step 4, Bottom centre and right: Step 5

1. Take the ragi vermicelli in a large vessel. Add in enough cold water to cover it completely. Let it soak for 3 minutes.

2. Once the vermicelli is done soaking, transfer it to a colander. Let all the water drain out.

3. Take water in a steamer and set it on high flame. Grease the steamer plate and keep it ready.

4. In the meantime, peel the onions and chop them finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep the curry leaves handy.

5. When the water in the steamer has come to a rolling boil, keep the greased plate inside. Spread the drained ragi vermicelli evenly over the plate. Close the steamer. Let the vermicelli steam on high flame for 5 minutes, then switch off gas.

Top left and centre: Steps 6 and 7, Top right and bottom left: Step 8, Bottom centre and right: Steps 9 and 10

6. After 5 minutes, remove the steamed vermicelli and allow it to cool. When it has cooled down enough for you to touch comfortably, gently fluff it up with your hands.

7. Now, we will start preparing the Ragi Semiya Upma. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them sputter. Add in the asafoetida and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

8. Add in the chopped onion at this stage. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute for 2-3 minutes or till the onions are cooked.

9. Add the fluffed-up ragi vermicelli to the pan now, along with the slit green chillies. Turn the flame down to low.

10. Add in salt to taste. Mix gently.

Top left and right: Steps 11 and 12, Bottom right: Step 13, Bottom left: Step 14

11. Saute on low flame for just about a minute, then switch off gas.

12. Mix in the fresh grated coconut and finely chopped coriander.

13. Mix in the lemon juice. Your Ragi Semiya Upma is ready.

14. Transfer the upma to serving plates. Serve immediately, on its own or with chutney. This Bangalore Hotel Style Coconut Chutney goes very well with the upma.

Dietary Guidelines

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan recipe, suited to people following a plant-based diet.

This upma is not gluten-free because the vermicelli includes refined wheat flour and also because asafoetida has been used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour.

Do check the ingredients listed on the vermicelli package to ensure that they meet your dietary requirements.

I’m no health expert, but know that, considering the numerous health benefits they possess, millets are being touted as a great replacement for wheat and rice. However, if you are planning to consume millets regularly, it would be advisable to consult with a doctor and/or dietician before doing so. This is especially so if you have health issues.

Tips & Tricks

1. There are several brands of ragi vermicelli available in stores these days. I typically use the one from a brand called Anil (not sponsored). I have outlined above the way Anil ragi vermicelli needs to be cooked. If you are using another brand, cook the vermicelli as per the instructions on the package.

2. Do not soak the vermicelli for longer than the specified time or steam it for more than 5 minutes (as specified in the instructions on the package). This might cause the vermicelli to become soggy.

3. Allow the cooked vermicelli to cool down well, before using it to make upma. Using hot vermicelli will make the upma soggy.

4. I have used only onions in this upma. You may add in other vegetables if you so prefer. Carrot and peas are great additions.

5. Do not overcook the ragi vermicelli. Once the onions are cooked, the vermicelli needs to be mixed in on low flame and sauteed for just about a minute. Overcooking causes the vermicelli to turn hard.

6. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice and green chillies as per personal taste preferences.

7. I have used my Prestige Multi-Purpose Kadhai to steam the ragi vermicelli (not sponsored). You can even do the same using idli plates in a pressure cooker, without putting the whistle on.

8. Be generous with the onions – don’t skimp on them. Finely chopped and well-sauteed onions are what gives this upma a lovely flavour.

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