Semiya Payasam (Vermicelli Kheer)

Semiya Payasam 2

Are you someone that tries to find a reason to have some dessert every time? I seem to have become one over the years. I feel that the guilt of indulging in sweets vanishes almost instantly when it is backed up with a good reason ;).

My mother developed this tradition of celebrating every happy event in the family, small or big, with a good homemade dessert. I think I’ve written about it in one of my earlier posts also. I do not know if I have imbibed and inherited every tradition my family wanted me to, but I have done this one completely, conveniently and unquestionably. I love to make a dessert for every occasion that brings even a wee bit of happiness in the family.

Semiya Payasam 1

This time, I have a big reason to celebrate and that deserves not just one, but a platter of desserts. My father has traveled from India to stay with me for a few months. To celebrate my time with him and to make it memorable for both of us, I’m planning on making a dessert once every few weeks. I’m trying to compile a list of some family recipes that we all enjoyed, some of my recipes that my dad loves, and some new ones that could become our favorites.

Here’s a simple yet a super delicious family favorite for you. It is a quickie and is so easy to make.  This recipe always comes to my rescue when I have to make a dessert in a hurry or at a short notice.


Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 25 mins

Serves 4-6


1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1 cup vermicelli (semiya/seviyan)

1½ cup sugar

4 cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

¼ tsp saffron

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

For Garnish (optional)

8-10 cashew halves

1 tbsp golden raisins


Soak saffron strands in a cup of milk and set aside.

Melt half of the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and fry cashews (if using) until they turn slightly golden brown. Add raisins (if using) and fry till they plump up. Take out the cashews and raisins and set aside, leaving the ghee in the pan.

Now, add the remaining ghee and roast the vermicelli under low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. When you start to see it turn slightly golden brown, add the remaining 3 cups of milk. Cook under medium heat till the vermicelli gets cooked nice and soft (about 8-10 mins).

To this, add sugar and stir well. Continue to cook under medium heat until it gets dissolved completely. Add the saffron milk, heavy cream and cardamom powder and mix well.

Garnish with roasted cashews and raisins. Serve warm or chilled.


1. Make sure to wait until the vermicelli gets cooked well before adding sugar. The vermicelli will stop getting cooked once it comes in contact with sugar.

2. Do not overcook either. The vermicelli would turn mushy and pasty if you cook it for too long.

3. Skip heavy cream if you don’t prefer using it. Adding heavy cream makes the kheer nice and creamy.

4. I always use powdered fresh cardamom instead of store bought powder. Break open 2-3 cardamom pods and powder the seeds in a mortar and pestle. Try to pound the seeds with ½ a teaspoon of sugar to get a finer powder

5. The slight orange tint in the kheer that you see in the pictures is due to the use of a tiny pinch of red-orange food color. I ran out of saffron and needed something to give the kheer a pleasant color

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