Semiya/Payasam/Sivaiyyan: Roasted Vermicelli In Sweet Seasoned Milk

A very common dessert in both the north and south of India, this is one sweet dish that is served at the most important holidays and functions as it is on any ordinary day.

The inspiration for the creation of this dish today came from a friend who lives in the large southern metropolis of India, Chennai.  We are engaged in an exercise of “sharing and learning” where one of us prepares a dish and provides a recipe for it, and the other replicates it even as she may alter it in terms of either ingredient or technique.  And yet, it is the same recipe.  My main variation of this dish is in the technique, while most of the ingredients are the same, although I have added one significant one:  sabudana, aka, Tapioca Seeds.  Also, I make mine on the thicker side.

So, my friend’s recipe for this dish is presented below, and my written recipe for it is available on the last two pictures in the set of pictures that follows.  Between these two, you might find inspiration to customize it for yourself, perhaps?  If so, good luck; if not, enjoy this grand visual offering prepared by yours truly earlier today.


My friend KJ’s recipe follows.  My version upon which this dish is made may be found in the one picture that follows (I hastily scribbled my recipe on the back of an envelope while I was making it!):

1 cup Vermicelli
3/4 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
A pinch Saffron
1 cup Milk
3-4 Cashew nuts
7-8 Raisins
2-3 Cardamom
  • Saute the vermicelli in ghee till it turns brown.
  • Boil the water in another vessel
  • Put the vermicelli in the boiling water and cover it for a bit, while stirring the mixture occasionally.
  • After the vermicelli becomes soft, add the sugar while making sure to stir the mixture continuously.
  • Fold in the milk and whisk the mixture till you find the vermicelli has taken the flavour in its fold.
  • Powder the cardamom and add it to the mixture. (this is optional, I didn’t do it because not many of us like cardamom here at home)
  • Flavor the desert with fried cashew nuts and almonds. (You can also try raisins)
  • Simmer the vermicelli for about two minutes. Your delicious payasam is ready to be served- serve cold or piping hot- works either way!

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