Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Semia Payasam ( Indian Vermicelli Pudding With Milk)

Semia Payasam
Semia Payasam is another wonderful pudding just like Pal Payasam (Rice and Milk pudding) that is often featured at feasts in South India; in fact no feast is complete without at least one kind of payasam. It is one of our family favorites and I love making it often. I like to offer payasams in general as a dessert as they tend to be the healthier with a low fat and low sugar content compared to other desserts. They are also easy to make with the least amount of prep work.

Semia are fine noodles made from wheat just like vermicelli; they are called 'seviyan' in Hindi.

Usually the payasam settles in the pan while cooking and is burnt very easily. I figured out the secret to making great payasams without all the constant stirring! One time I added the sugar to the milk by mistake but went ahead with the payasam rather than toss out the sugary milk. Well, that accident proved very useful! Now any time we want payasam, I just add the sugar to the milk at the beginning and forget all the stirring and fuss. No more burnt payasam :)! I have tried this method many times and the results are incredible without exception; I cook semia, sago (tapioca), and rice payasam the same way. Now the payasams turn out superb.

Happy May 1st! Celebrate with Semia Payasam! Amma always made some type of payasam or a sweet dish on the first days of each month when we were children and Semia payasam was one favorite! New Month's Day is always celebrated just like New Year's Day even if not as elaborately; it is another opportunity to start anew.


1/2 cup Semia noodles
6 cups any Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
a few strands Saffron
5 to 7 Cardamom Pods

1 Tbsp Ghee or Vegan butter substitute
3 Tbsp Raw Cashew pieces
2 Tbsp Seedless Raisins


Roast the semia noodles in a dry skillet stirring constantly until golden. Alternately, roast the noodles in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile bring the milk and sugar to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour until the milk is reduced a little and looks creamy. You can simmer the milk even longer if desired for a creamier result. The longer you simmer the milk, the creamier it gets and the milk sugars caramelize and give the payasam a great flavor and color.

Add the toasted noodles to the simmering milk and stir well to prevent lumps from forming. Turn the heat to low and simmer until noodles are soft stirring occasionally.

Crush the cardamom pods and collect the little black/brown seeds; discard the skins. Crush the cardamom seeds and saffron strands together with a teaspoon of sugar using a mortar and pestle to a fine powder; the sugar helps to grind the spices. Sprinkle the spices over the payasam and stir well to combine. Cover.

Heat the ghee/vegan butter substitute and cook the cashew pieces until pinkish; add raisins and stir until raisins puff up a little. Remove from heat.

If you are serving the payasam right away, stir in the cashews and raisins and serve hot, warm, or cool. The nuts and raisins provide a nice contrast to the creamy soft payasam and offer intense pockets of flavor and richness.

When planning to serve the payasam later, I usually reserve the cashews/raisins and sprinkle them on top of each serving because I prefer the cashews to stay crisp.

Note: Although it is traditional to add cashews and raisins to the payasam, you can omit them; I sometimes leave them out because not everyone is very fond of them.


Anonymous said...

Great recipe!! I have some guest coming over. I will be trying this recipe for them. Thanks.

Geetha said...

Hi Anon,

I hope the recipe works out well for you. Please let me know how you and your guests like it. Thank you for leaving a comment.

Jaipura said...

I just love your recipes Geetha, and this is the first time I have actually visited your site, even though I have seem some of your recipes. I am here today to look for Kheer made with Sevian. I am a newcomer to Indian food, but a big fan, and at home in Cairo, Egypt, I cook many Indian meals. I love original authentic recipes, and the way you make it all seem so easy!
Thank you Geetha!

Jaipura said...

This is my first visit to your site Geetha. I love original recipes, and had heard about this site from many friends. I visited today as I was looking for this Kheer recipe. I love vermicelli pudding and shall be trying this today.
I am a newcomer to Indian foods, and a big fan, and I love to cook simple but authentic Indian food at home in Cairo Egypt.
Thank you Geetha!

Geetha said...

Welcome Jaipura, Thank you for visiting and your kind comments. I hope that the recipes prove useful to you and that you have fun with them. I hope the Semia Payasam or Kheer turned out good for you. Happy cooking! - Geetha

cppriya said...


This was an extremely easy recipe! I followed it step by step and it turned out perfect! Was a great hit for Karthi, which we celebrated here in New York :) Thanks, and keep the awesome recipes coming.


Geetha said...

Hello Priya, I am so glad that the recipe worked for you. And, thank you for the compliments, you just made my day! :) Happy Karthikai!