Lemon Semiya Upma ~ Lemon Vermicelli Upma

February 26, 2012 · 24 comments

in Breakfast, Breakfast - South India, Cuisine : Indian, Cuisine : Kerala, Cuisine : Tam Brahm, Cuisine : TamilNadu


So many wonderful occasions have passed since I last posted here – Christmas, New Years, Pongal, Valentine’s day. I hope you all had a great time celebrating with friends and family! I did too, along with a couple of weeks of celebration of my birthday – a trip to San Francisco and Napa, a fun night out with friends cruising various restaurants and clubs in Seattle in a limo,  a girls night out, brunches and more! Now you know, what kept me away from here :) And then it was the re-starting trouble and I promised myself I will not let the second month of year pass too, without getting back to blogging.  So here I am!

Upma is a very traditional South Indian breakfast meal, made with vermicelli, semolina or flattened rice flakes (aval). For those who are not very familiar with upma, the closest preparation I can think of to this one is polenta, but a lot drier than that with no leftover water or liquid in it. The semolina variety is the most common one in upmas, though the others are also very often made.

I have been making this lemon vermicelli upma a lot these days. The regular vermicelli upma does not have lemon in it, this is a variant of it. Not only is this upma easy to make for a weekend breakfast / brunch, but it is also so very tasty and different from the regular vermicelli or semolina upma. The squeeze of lemon adds that extra special tanginess which elevates the flavors to whole different level altogether.


You can buy vermicelli in different forms. Either as long noodles, which you then break into 1/2 inch long pieces with your hands, which can sometimes be a little painful and fun at the same time. Or you can buy it already broken into small pieces. Even in this, you get the roasted version and the not roasted version. If you buy the plain one, make sure you dry roast them in a pan, till it is golden brown in color like in the picture above.


Lemon Semiya Upma  / Lemon Vermicelli Upma – The Recipe

  • Vermicelli / Semiya, broken into 1/2 inch pieces and roasted – 1 cup
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Red Onion, chopped – 1/2
  • Thai Green Chillis, chopped – 3-4
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Salt, to taste
  • Lemon juice – 1-2 tbsp
  • Grated Coconut – 1/4 cup


Heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the mustard seeds and let is splutter.  Now add the curry leaves, give it a quick stir and add the onions and chopped up green chillies.

Once the onions start becoming translucent, you don’t have to let them turn brown, add the water and salt. Bring the water to a boil. Note, that this will be the time to check the salt. If you taste the water, you will approximately know whether the salt is enough or not. You will not be able to add salt to the noodles later.

Now add the roasted vermicelli, reduce the heat and let it cook and absorb all the water.

Once it starts looking like cooked noodles, stir well, add the lemon juice and the grated coconut. Give it a quick stir again. Remove from heat.

Serve hot with coconut chutney or any other chutney of your choice along with some piping hot South Indian style filter coffee.

You just cannot ask for a better breakfast!

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kankana February 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I have been following your photo in FB and you sure did have some fun :) This lemon upma semiya looks perfect..not mushy at all like how i always land up making it !


2 Manju February 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

wow! that was quick, K!! Thanks! :) Yep. i sure did have a ton of fun..now back to the fun times here :)


3 Siri February 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Good to see you back in action Manju :-). Lots of fun things are happ at your end and I hope they continue to be like that ;-). the semiya upma is a regular in our household as well. I sometimes make semiya biryani as well..;-)



4 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thanks Siri :) Semiya Biriyani..now that is something interesting. Do you have that on your blog?


5 Arch February 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

There you are finally ! Was wondering where you disappeared for so long ! So you’ve had a really rocking beginning to this year :)
Hope to see your posts more often now…I tried your raw banana mor kolambu, was fantastic !


6 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

:) Thanks Arch. Will try to be more regular here..


7 aarthi February 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm

That looks amazing..its been long time, glad you are back


8 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thank you aarthi!


9 Shri February 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Good to see you back Manju and Upma looks perfect!


10 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thanks Shri :)


11 Sharmilee February 27, 2012 at 6:25 am

Flavourful and yummy semiya, with lemon flavour sure will taste good


12 Manju March 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Thanks Sharmilee!


13 Namitha February 27, 2012 at 7:10 am

Good to see you back to the grind :-) This sure looks so good. I love upma with tangine-ss from lemon. I saw the lovely pictures in FB,from your trip


14 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm

:) thanks girl! :)


15 Ambika February 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Hey Manju!! Thanks for dropping by! I’ve been a follower of your blog for a long time, but I guess I was passive!! Lemon semiya sounds and looks delicious, I love semiya in any form!! Good to see you back, looking forward to seeing a lot of yummy recipes!!


16 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

thanks Ambika! I soo soo love the Thandai post up on your blog now :)


17 Tadka Pasta February 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Good to see you back, and glad to know that it was fun times that were keeping you busy. I love this upma, but mine never comes out right. So, I will be trying this out..soon!


18 Katie February 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Glad you posted again! I just ran out of poha while making lemon poha this morning …so now I’ll need to get some vermicelli to make this!


19 Sona - Quick Picks February 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Hey Manju..better the “Super Chef”..wow!! its been soo long. Great to see your blog soo live and running throughout. yes, its been 3 years off from blogging, ( had 2 deliveries in between :) ), kids, home, work..too busy to write..now better, so back.
do keep in touch, bye

you will remember me better still as the “kitchen scientist” i suppose..:)


20 Manju March 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

:) So good to see you too!! :) And yes, you will always be the “kitchen scientist” to me :)


21 Deeps @ Naughty Curry March 5, 2012 at 1:15 am

wow, vermicelli never looked this good!


22 Richa@HobbyandMore March 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

we never make savory semiya..this looks so good! are u sure about 3-4 thai chillies.. maybe i eat less spicy.. i add like a half in the entire daal!:)


23 Manju March 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm

:) ohh yeah, absolutely sure :) It actually does not get THAT spicy.


24 Katie March 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm

How many servings does this make?


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