Annika Eats

Semiya Payasam

This rich pudding is fragrant and perfect for any occasion but fits perfectly for Eid. A few pantry staples is all you need and you’ve got yourself a dessert in no time and minimal effort.

Semiya is basically Vermicelli and Payasam means pudding. It is an indulgent Indian dessert served during occasions, which is through out the year as if you know anything about Indian culture we have a lot of festivals and celebrations. In sating this, there are many types of “Payasam” and there are various ways to make this semiya payasam. The recipe I am sharing here is my grandmothers recipe (from my dads side), she taught my mum and yesterday my mum taught me.

Growing up I always waited for Diwali, Dusshera, Pongal, etc to have this sweet treat. My mum, bless her, she isn’t one to cook or bake anything elaborate, yes she loves to eat everything elaborate or otherwise – she would make this in a large handi (stock pot) as we would have to send it for family, friends and neighbours. There are a few pantry ingredients needed to make this however she says we do have room to substitute a couple of ingredients here and there which I will go through in a bit. 

The recipe doesn’t taken time to come together, hence it is important to keep all the ingredients ready. When it comes to cooking, I prefer using a flat heavy bottom stock pot or large sauce pot to make this, even though mum still loves the handi. I am not used to it and with all that milk etc I don’t want to take a chance of it over spilling. Lets look at a few ingredient substitutes:

Milk: You cannot use skimmed, low fat or a non dairy milk as it needs to be boiled before cooking further. Hence I would recommend full fat. Mums Short Cut: You can use low fat if you decide to use milk powder, condensed milk or cream into the pudding. You can use 1 liter low fat milk with 3 tbsp milk powder or 2 tbsp 1/4 cup cream.

Vermicelli: There are different types of vermicelli however you can see which one we have used here. The thickness will affect the cooking time and the overall viscosity of the pudding. We like roasting it until some pieces are dark brown while others are lighter and some aren’t colored at all. This roasting process adds a lovely contrast of color in the pudding once cooked.

Cardamom powder: You cannot substitute this, if you have the whole pod you can add it into the pudding during cooking and remove it once done or grind into a powder before adding into the payasam.

Sugar: We used regular white sugar here but you can use jaggery or coconut sugar to make this recipe. Mum says the sweetness is subjective so the ratios mentioned below are a guideline and how we like it (which is not very sweet) you can adjust it based on your palate. Also, if you are adding condensed milk be mindful of the amount of sugar as it can get very sweet and rich in the process. 

Ghee: Is nothing but clarified butter that has a strong nutty flavor. You can use butter but that flavor will never be the same. So I would recommend getting your hands on ghee, either store bought or home made. 

Dried Nuts & Fruits: I personally love cashew nuts and pistachios hence why we only add them into the payasam. Mum likes adding golden raisins, almonds, pine nuts and even rose petals. 

Once the payasam is made, it can be served warm or cold. Keep in mind once cooked, it will thicken and you might need to serve it with milk on the side for anyone who likes their pudding more saucy. It can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. I wouldn’t recommend reheating it more than once as the sugar in the milk can make it split. While serving you can garnish with more nuts and dried fruit. I have even frozen this in a lock and lock for unto 1 month. When ready to eat, leave to thaw at room temperature and add warm milk into it before eating. 

This is a little piece of my childhood and family legacy. I would also like to wish you all Eid Mubarak. Happy Cooking Ninjas!

Semiya Payasam

This rich pudding is fragrant and perfect for any occasion but fits perfectly for Eid. A few pantry staples is all you need and you’ve got yourself a traditional Indian dessert in no time and minimal effort.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Celebration, Dessert, Sweet tooth, tea time
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 people


  • Stock pot with lid
  • Wooden spoon


  • 200 gm Semiya Vermicelli
  • 1 liter Milk full fat
  • 75 gm Sugar
  • 45 gm ghee
  • 5 gm Cardamom powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75 gm Cashew nuts
  • 25 gm Pistachios


  • In a heavy bottom stock pot add 1 table spoon of ghee and roast the nuts until golden brown on medium heat. Remove the nuts and set aside.
  • In the same pot add 2 tbsp of ghee and the vermicelli. Roast until unevenly browned. It doesn’t need to be perfect but it needs a little color. Remove the vermicelli from the pot and set aside.
  • In the same pot add the milk and gently bring to a boil. Once boiling add the roasted semiya into the milk and reduce the heat. Add the cardamom powder, salt and stir.
  • Once the semiya is almost cooked, which should take about 10 mins on medium heat, add the sugar and reduce heat to low. Stir until dissolved.
  • Add most of the nuts and stir. Remove from the heat and cover. Serve as you like, hot, warm or cold.
  • Garnish with remaining roasted nuts when serving.


  • The salt is optional but I think it enhances the flavor here.
  • Adjust the sweetness as per your palate.
  • Add more nuts and a variety of them if you please.
  • Do not add the sugar while the milk is boiling or on medium heat, it MUST be added on low heat as the milk will spot otherwise.

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