Back to contents

SEEMA Cooks: Semiya Payasam

Apr/01/2022 / by Richa Sharma
Image credits: Shutterstock

Payasam is a creamy and sweet South Indian vermicelli dish. This cardamom-scented vermicelli payasam takes just 20 minutes to prepare and is suitable for novices.

What Is Semiya Payasam

Semiya refers to vermicelli in Malayalam, whereas payasam, made with vermicelli or not, is a sweetened dessert, usually made with either milk or coconut milk.

Making semiya payasam is a quick process that takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes but the secret to a good payasam is slow simmering. It avoids scorched milk areas or thick gloppy payasam.

Add less milk for a thicker semiya payasam and more milk for a thin version. If the payasam gets too thick after chilling, add some milk to thin it down.

Serves: 4


  • 2 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
  • 12 to 15 pistachios
  • 2 tsp raisins
  • 1 cup semiya (also called seviyan, or vermicelli)
  • 3 ½ cups unsweetened milk
  • 4 tbsp sugar, or as needed
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder or 5–6 green cardamoms, smashed in a mortar and pestle


Frying Dry Fruits

  1. Melt the ghee in a heavy kadai.
  2. Add cashews and fry on low heat until they are golden brown.
  3. Remove the fried cashews with a slotted spoon.
  4. Add the raisins and fry them in the remaining oil over moderate heat. While cooking, stir often.
  5. Once the raisins are swollen, scoop them out with a slotted spoon.
  6. Set the fried raisins and cashews aside.

Roasting Semiya

  1. Put the broken semiya (seviyan or vermicelli) in the same kadai.
  2. Reduce to low heat and continue roasting the semiya, stirring often to ensure even browning.
  3. Roast until the semiya is golden brown.

The Payasam

  1. Add 3 ½ cups of milk once the semiya is golden brown. Add 4 cups of cold, warm, hot, or room temperature milk for a thin payasam. Once the payasam cools, it will thicken, so adjust the amount of milk proportionately.
  2. Combine thoroughly.
  3. Reduce to low or medium-low heat and simmer until the semiya softens. Stir often to prevent the milk or semiya from sticking or burning at the base of the kadai.
  4. Simmer for a few minutes, or until the vermicelli strands are softened.
  5. After that, add sugar. You may adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding less or more sugar.
  6. Sprinkle cardamom powder on top.
  7. Mix and continue to cook on low to medium-low heat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. The sugar should dissolve completely.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the fried cashews and raisins. You may even garnish the dish with some fried raisins and cashews.


  • Serve semiya payasam hot, warm, or cold. When the mixture reaches room temperature, refrigerate and serve cold as a sweet pudding later if desired.
  • Store leftovers in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Freezing may alter the flavor and texture.
  • If you wish to consume the payasam hot or warm, you may reheat it over low heat after refrigeration. If the consistency has become too thick, add additional milk or water.

For more of SEEMA Cooks, check out SEEMA Cooks: Phirni


Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Get notified about exclusive stories every week!

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Seema will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.