Semiya Upma: How to Make a Bowl of Nutritious, Vegetable Upma

Semiya Upma: How to Make a Bowl of Nutritious, Vegetable Upma Malgudi Days

By Bhamini S.


A South Indian dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, upma is hearty and well-balanced in terms of flavours. It is made of semiya/ vermicelli, which has the appearance of thin noodles and is composed of rice flour. Upma tastes wonderful with a cup of Malgudi Days coffee.



  • 200 grams vermicelli, see tips below
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilli
  • 1 string curry leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tomatoes, medium ripe, chopped
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 1-2 pods green cardamom
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (optional) sliced lengthwise
  • 10 cashew nuts
  • 1-2 cups water, see tips below
  • 1 carrot, diced or grated
  • 50gm fresh or frozen peas
  • ½ capsicum, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, medium size, diced
  • 50gm baby spinach leaves
  • 1 potato, small peeled, chopped or instead you can use broccoli chopped fine too.



  • 4 tsp oil, for cooking
  • 1 tsp ghee to fry cashews
  • 1 tsp urad dal- 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp chana dal- 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • 1 asafoetida/ hing- just a pinch
  • 2 dried red chilli, broken
  • ½ tsp turmeric, optional
semiya upma recipe



  1. Finely chop onion, tomato, green chilli and other vegetables.
  2. Roast the vermicelli. You can dry roast it on a slow flame until it turns golden brown. If you are using ready-made roasted vermicelli, you can skip this step. But I still roast them a little since they aren't roasted to the level that I prefer.
  3. Heat oil, add bay leaves, cinnamon bark, cloves and cardamom. When they sizzle, add mustard seeds. As mustard seeds begin to splutter, add hing, urad dhal, channa dhal, cumin seeds, broken dry red chillies and curry leaves, turmeric, etc.
  4. When the above dal turns golden brown, add chopped onions, split green chillies and sauté until onions turn transparent. Add chopped tomatoes and fry until they are soft and cooked.
  5. Add finely chopped vegetables, or alternatively, you can cook them in another pan until they are 80% cooked. Drain the water and add it to the main pan.
  6. Add the roasted vermicelli and stir-fry for a few minutes.
  7. Add boiled water and salt, and lower the flame to medium.
  8. Cover and cook until the vermicelli is soft and all the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  9. Garnish with coriander and fried cashews.
  10. You can add one spoon of ghee on top.


This will have an aroma like that of pulao because of the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. You can also eat upma without any chutney or pickles. If required, raita made of yoghurt would serve as a great accompaniment.



  • For vermicelli, try the MTR/ Bambino/ Anil brand. You can find both roasted and unroasted versions of the semiya (vermicelli) in shops. Please note, vermicelli upma tastes good even when not all of the ingredients are available.
  • Suggested water ratio:
    Vermicelli - thick (MTR Brand) - 1: 2 cups of water
    Vermicelli - medium (Bambino) - 1: 1 ½ cups of water
    Vermicelli - fine (Anil) - 1: 1 cup water
  • Seasonal vegetables can be used-- I mix and match what is available in the fridge.
  • Some of the items can be skipped if unavailable or if you have allergies.

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