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Vermicelli / Semiya Upma



Upma is a favorite Indian breakfast. It can be made with rava, oats, or vermicelli. We love this easy semiya upma that can be made in the instant pot or on the stovetop.

Broccoli Par

Call it Vermicelli Upma or Semiya pulao or biryani, the preparation is the same. You can add less or more vegetables to your choice.

In North India, this dish is called Namkeen Seviyan, which translates to Savory or Salted Vermicelli.

This Semiya upma is a great choice for a quick and healthy breakfast. It is nutritious with the addition of all the wonderful veggies, and it is great to add to kids lunch boxes too.


You can also make upma with other grains. Check out 

Rava UpmaBroken Wheat/Dalia Upma and Quinoa Upma recipe.



What is Semiya or Vermicelli?

Vermicelli is a traditional pasta similar to spaghetti, but thinner and broken down to small pieces. You can buy these at an indian grocery store.

There are various types of vermicelli you will see at the store, look for one with wheat. The rice vermicelli (sever) will not work in this recipe.

I like to buy roasted vermicelli. That makes it even easier to make this upma.

But if you don't have roasted vermicelli, it is easy to roast yourself. Just add 1-2 teaspoon of ghee or oil in a pan and roast the vermicelli until it turns golden brown.





  • Start with the tempering - Heat ghee or oil to the pan. Then add the chana dal, urad dal, cumin and mustard seeds. Then add the cashews.
  • Add the curry leaves and green chili pepper. Then the chopped onions and grated ginger.
  • Saute the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the grated carrots and green peas.
  • I used carrots and peas in this recipe, but you can vary with the veggies of your choice. Some options are - bell peppers, corn, edamame, green beans. You can also add lightly sauteed tofu or paneer to increase the protein in this recipe.
  • Then add the vermicelli, salt and water. Cook covered for about 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed, while stirring frequently.


The vermicelli to water ratio for stovetop is 1 cup vermicelli to 1.5 cups water.

Once the water is absorbed, let the upma rest for few minutes. Then open the lid and add the lime juice and gently stir. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.



How to make Vermicelli Upma in Instant Pot?

Follow the same steps to saute the veggies. Then add vermicelli, salt and water. The vermicelli to water ratio for instant pot is 1.5 cup vermicelli to 2 cups water.



The reason for using less water in the instant pot is that the water does not evaporate which means less water is needed to cook the same dish.

Pressure cook on high pressure for 1 minute. When the instant pot beeps, do 5 minute natural pressure release, which means release pressure 5 minutes after the instant pot beeps.

Remove the steel insert from the instant pot so that the vermicelli does not overcook and fluff the vermicelli with a fork.


Add lime juice and garnish with cilantro.


Serve this vermicelli upma with chutney or tea or just by itself

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