Semiya aka Seviya

Published by Bee Gill on

Vermicelli noodles cooked in sweetened milk

When I was growing up Semiya were a once a month breakfast on a Sunday morning on days we were not having Parathe. I used to dread it when Mum made them – I think kids just shy away from anything that has even the slightest notion of slippery or slimy food.

When Mum was diagnosed with cancer in early 2019, she also acquired a really sweet tooth.  Apparently cancer gives you sugar cravings and Mum would ask for extra sugar in her tea, and fruit yoghurts and other sweet things. My niece would pick up an Indian sweet called Petha on her way back from work for her. Petha is cooked white pumpkin that is boiled and then soaked in really sweet syrup and allowed to set….it can literally melt your teeth!

She was only with us for 3 months after the diagnosis and as her appetite decreased the sugar cravings increased.  Semiya was something she would request a lot, and she taught me a little trick to stop the Vermicelli sticking together and becoming slippery when cooked.  Add a little hot water to the pan before you add the milk – not sure what the science behind it is – still trying to figure that one out – but it works!

My recipe is more of a dessert than a breakfast – using the double cream and vanilla gives it a little bit of decadence, something my parents were not used to unfortunately, and if you want it even more luxurious add a little saffron. I hope you will enjoy this as much as Mum did.

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1 tbsp ghee or butter

1 cup vermicelli – break up the whole strands into small pieces

A third cup of boiled water

2 cups of full fat milk

½ cup of double cream

½ tablespoon sugar – or to your taste

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or essence


  1. Fry the vermicelli in the ghee on a low to medium heat until they go golden brown in colour stirring regularly.  Do not let them cook too quickly.
  2. Add the water and cook for another few minutes until the noodles begin to soften in the pan
  3. Stir in the milk and the cream.  Keep stirring, don’t let the stick to the pan
  4. Add the sugar, cardamom powder and vanilla flavouring
  5. Bring to the boil and then let simmer on a low heat until the milk begins to reduce
  6. Keep stirring intermittently and allow the ingredients to soften and fuse together
  7. The Semiya are cooked when the noodles stick to the spook and don’t slide off when you lift it out of the pan
  8. Serve the Semiya warm topped with nuts or fruit if you like.  Delicious!