Quick fix breakfast! Upma usually suggests a bland, dull, ‘oh no not again’ feeling. Make it really delicious, instead, with this version of Semiya Upma, with crisp curry leaves, fried cashew nuts, the aroma of ghee!
This is my go to breakfast item when I’m strapped for time or otherwise need to make something quick. Without compromising on taste, of course! Semiya Upma should be taken hot, and may be served with chutney. I take curd with everything so even if I make chutney, will still take curd with the Upma. Onion and tomato chutney goes really well with the hot Semiya Upma.
I generally use roasted vermicelli instead of raw white Semiya, as I think it looks more appetising.To up the taste and health quotients, add peas to the usual onion and tomato. If you are making the Semiya Upma with raw white vermicelli, you will need to dry roast it first, stirring frequently so that the semiya does not char or blacken. The fried curry leaves add a special flavour to the dish. And don’t forget the raisins!
The trick to making a perfect Semiya Upma is to control the water you add for cooking the semiya. Too much water and you get a soggy breakfast. Too little, and the semiya does not cook well. Once the peas are cooked, keep the stove on a low flame, and add semiya slowly. I usually add the semiya from a bowl in one hand, stirring the pan with the other so that the semiya settles in the water. As soon as the water just covers the semiya, I stop adding. The semiya cooks very fast but if the water is less, you could add trickles of hot water and stir it in. A little care will be worthwhile and give you a very tasty Semiya Upma!
Though generally a breakfast item, Semiya Upma can be made for a quick lunch or evening tiffin.
Note: I have included this recipe in my Series on Cooking for the New Mom: https://www.pepperonpizza.com/cooking-new-mom
However you need to substitute ghee instead of oil for sautéing, and remove onions, peas and green chillies from the ingredients list and the instructions – the rest of the process is just the same. You might increase the number of peppercorns to 4, and powder them well.
Savoury Semiya (Seviyan) Uppuma
- 1 1/2 cups vermicelli - Semiya or Seviyan
- 4 - 5 Cashewnuts
- 4-5 Raisins
- 1/8 tsp Mustard seeds - Rai
- 1 green chilli
- 1 onion
- curry leaves
- 1/4" piece ginger
- 1 tbsp Green peas
- 1 tomato
- 2 Peppercorns
- 2 tsps ghee
- coriander leaves - dhaniya leaves
- to taste salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Dice the onion, tomato, ginger, green chilli, and mince the coriander leaves and curry leaves (reserve 2 whole curry leaves and some minced coriander leaves for the garnish) and keep aside. Crush the peppercorns.
- If the semiya has not been roasted, roast now without oil, constantly stirring so that it does not catch at the bottom of the pan. Keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan, bring to low heat and fry the cashew (30 secs) and raisins (10 secs) separately. Remove from the oil, drain and keep aside.
- Fry the 2 reserved whole curry leaves for a few seconds, remove and keep aside for the garnish.
- In the oil remaining in the pan, add mustard seeds and once they burst, (10 secs) add the green chilli pieces (10 secs).
- Saute the onion pieces till they become translucent (about 30 to 60 secs). Add ginger, saute for 10 secs. Add the curry leaves.
- Add the peas and tomato and saute for 10 secs.
- Pour water into the pan, bring it to a boil and reduce the flame. Add salt and crushed pepper. Cook till the peas are soft and can be crushed with the back of a spoon or between your fingers.
- Add the semiya, stirring so that they spread and do not form into lumps. The water should just cover the semiya. At this stage if water appears in excess, remove some with a ladle. If the water appears to be less, stop adding semiya.
- Cook the semiya for about 5 minutes, stirring so that it doesn't catch at the bottom of the pan. The strands of vermicelli will become soft and will thicken to almost twice their original size.
- Add the ghee, stirring again. Add half the cashew and raisins.
- Transfer to a serving dish (the Semiya Upma will stick to the hot pan if it is not removed quickly).
- Garnish with the remaining cashew, raisins, reserved fried curry leaves and coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with a tomato chutney or an onion tomato chutney.