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Semiya Payasam – Vermicelli Kheer

Payasams or kheers  are   easy deserts  popular  all over India.  Doesn’t   everything  tastes better with  sweetened  milk ? Oh yes, that  is what kheer  is,  a starch or fruit cooked in  sweetened milk.  There are a  variety of  ingredients  that  can  go into these – rice, wheat, oats, carrots, sago … the list goes on.

Semiya Payasam - Vermicelli Kheer

Pal Payasam as rice kheer is known in South India, is one of the most popular ones for generations. Imagine living in  a  joint  family   where  you have  someone’s  birthday/anniversary or a  some  other  occasion to celebrate  every  few   days.Now if you are in charge of the family kitchen, wouldn’t you want  a  simple  desert  that   can  be  whipped  up  easily with   your  pantry staples?  That is the story of rice Kheer – just a few simple  everyday ingredients  coming  together for a celebration.

Once  vermicelli noodles  became   popular  Semiya Payasam  or  Vermicelli  Kheer became the  easy desert of  choice.  Vemicelli noodles were a nice change and quite a departure from the soft rice texture.  Availability of  condensed  milk  and  roasted  vermicelli made  the  whole  process all the  more  easier.   Now  you can have payasam ready in  20 minutes, in just  enough time  to  boil milk and  the   vermicelli to  get  cooked.

Not  everyone   was pleased  with  this   though.  My grandpa  put  vermicelli   and  worms  in the   same  category.  But  as  kids  we  loved  it.  My kids love it as well – and as toddlers they used  to call it  noodle  payasam.  The  noodle  has  been here  for  at  least  2  generations  and  looks  like  it  is  going  to  stay for  some  more  time.

The  traditional way of  making   this  payasam involves   thickening milk.  The  noodles  are  roasted  and   cooked in  milk  and  sweetened   to  taste.  It is usually flavored  with  cardamom and   sometimes  with a  few  strands  of  saffron.  A  few  roasted  cashew nuts  and raisins  adds  the  final touch.

The  modern  versions  include a  variety of  nuts  (pistachios  and  almonds ) and  sometimes   spices  like  nutmeg  come  to the party as  well. The most difficult part of this recipe is boiling milk and thickening it. You can  not  leave  milk boiling  on the   stove  and  try to finish that  last  chapter  of  novel  or focus on  anything  else.  You have to pay attention  to it  and  stir  every so often to  prevent  overflows  and   burnt  bottoms.  Fortunately we have condensed  milk.

Making Semiya Payasam - Vermicelli Kheer

Once  the  vermicelli is  cooked in milk stir in the condensed  milk.  Adjust sugar  and  you are done!   It  is  rarely that  you have  cook the payasam  any further.   The  recipe here  is  going  to  give the  condensed  milk version  with the traditional  version included in the  notes.

A  word  of  caution  though  – if  you resort to payasam  as  a  way of  ensuring  milk in the  kid’s  diet   then  don’t  use  condensed  milk and  do not  thicken  it  either.  Bring  the   vermicelli  to a  boil and  turn off  the heat  and  leave  the  container  covered  on the stove  for  15  to 20 minutes.  The  roasted  vermicelli  should  get cooked  by then.  If  not   bring  it  back to  boil and  simmer  for  5  more minutes  stirring  often.  Lightly sweeten   and  serve !

Semiya Payasam - Vermicelli Kheer

Semiya Payasam

By Syama
This is an easy milk based  desert   with  fried  vermicelli noodles    swimming  in a  pool of thick  sweetened  milk . 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine India
Servings 4


  • 1 cup Semiya/Vermicelli Roasted (Notes)
  • 2 C Milk Full Fat or Skim (Notes)
  • 1 C Water As Needed
  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk 4 oz
  • 1/4 - 1/2 C Sugar As Needed
  • 4- 5 Pods Green Cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee/ any Neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp Cashews
  • 2 Tbsp Raisins


Cook the vermicelli

  • Heat a  thick bottomed   deep pot (stock pot / dutch oven) large  enough to hold  at  least  8 C of  liquid.  
    When  the pan is hot  toss  the  semiya (vermicelli) in  and   dry roast  for 1  minute (see Notes if the  noodles  are not  pre-roasted).  Remove  and  reserve. 
  • Wipe  down the  pot  and  Pour  the  milk and and 1 C  water  into it. Bring  to a boil  over  high heat stirring a  few  times  in  between (about 5  minutes).  
    Once the  milk is  boiling  add  the  semiya   into the pot,  stir   and  bring  back to boil.  Reduce  heat  to low  and  let  it  simmer  for  15  minutes. 
    Stir  occasionally to  avoid  a skin  from  forming  on top. 
  • Add the  condensed  milk  and  stir.  Bring  to a  slow  simmer  and  taste. if  needed  add  more  sugar.  
    Crush the  cardamom seeds  and sprinkle on top. Turn off  heat. 
  • While  the   vermicelli is  cooking , heat  oil/ghee in  a  small pan.   When  it is  hot  add  the cashew nuts  and  fry  till  it becomes   golden  brown,   stirring  often.  Drain and reserve.  If  using  raisins  toss into the  same  oil  and   heat  till it  plumps up.  Drain and  reserve.
  • Mix in  half  the  fried  nuts  and  raisins to the  payasam.  Transfer  to   the   serving  bowls  and  garnish  with the   remaining  nuts and  raisins. 
  • These  can be  served   warm or  cold.  
    If  not  serving   soon  refrigerate as  soon as the  payasam  comes  to  room  temperature. 


  • If  the  semiya noodles  are not  roasted,   take a  thick bottomed  frying  pan  and  heat  1 tsp ghee.  Add  the   semiya  and   roast  over  medium   heat  stirring  often  until all the  needles  begin  to   turn  deep orange  color.  At  any time  if  the  pan  begins  to  smoke   reduce  heat. 
  • If  not  using  condensed  milk, increase  the  milk to  6  cups  and  cook  down to   desired  consistency. 
  • When  cooking   the  traditional  way (all milk) use a  larger  pot  -  enough  to  contain at  least  2 1/2  times  the   amount  of  milk - to reduce  the  risk of  spills.  
  • Use  only just   enough  ghee   to  fry. 

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

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How  thick   you want the   payasam   is entirely up to you. Kheers  thicken  as  they rest. Keep  that  in mind  when as  you cook . Kheer  that   looks  thick and  creamy  could  turn into s  soft  custard  as  it  cools.   We  prefer to  have our vermicelli kheer a  little  thick and  creamy,  except  when   I serve  it  over   a base – more  on that  another time!

When you refrigerate  kheer  it  tends  to  thicken  more  than usual.  To thin   add  a few tablespoons  of   warm  extra.


Semiya Payasam - Vermicelli Kheer

Looking  for  a  non diary   version  of  kheer ?  Try this  one 

Parippu Payasam  or  Parippu Pradhaman

Here is  another   traditional  rice  and  milk  payasam Palada - Rice Noodle Kheer


These  recipes  are  part of  traditional  kerala  sadya (feast)  meals.  Chick to see  more  sadya  recipes.

Recipe Rating


Monday 12th of October 2020

Easy and delicious Kheer!