Recipe: Chilled Semiya Payasam / Vermicelli Kheer

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
When it comes to an Onam Sadya (the traditional Keralite banquet served during the festival of Onam and consisting of roughly 24 - 28 dishes served on a banana leaf), even though you have had your tummy's fill from yoghurts (the usual serving includes varieties based around beetroot, pineapple and ginger separately) and vegetable permutations galore (from avial and olan to thoran and kootu curries), there is still - I repeat, STILL - always room for dessert.

And as you reach for your last handful of rice and gravy, your eyes invariably wander across the room searching for the bowl from which the classic payasam desserts are being served. And who more ubiquitous than the ever-yummy semiya payasam to bring a smile of contentment upon your face?

Semiya payasam ( Vermicelli payasam / vermicelli kheer ) is as classic as it gets in Kerala with very few variations as we move from the Malabar region to the South of the state, unlike most other dishes. And yet, even after all these years, this payasam itself offers a few unique selling points that make it so popular today.

It is so simple to prepare! I mean seriously, you have 7 ingredients and can honestly play around with each and every one of them to get the taste of your own preference. Everyone feels like a top chef once they have made this dish as it is invariably successful!

It looks gorgeous. Lovely white fluid interspersed with scintillating semiya strands and topped with glistening golden cashews. 

A bowl of divinity

Cut the sugar! How about adding some SugarFree Natura for a change? Using the 1 teaspoon Sugar Free Natura = 1 teaspoon sugar ratio, you get the same yummy taste while staying guilt-free! Yay!

Most importantly, Semiya Payasam is one of those versatile desserts that taste yummy whether it is served hot or cold. Yes, the payasam served in Onam sadyas is the hot version but on a personal level, I always prefer it after it has been chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours.
As it cools, the consistency becomes more deliciously thick and creamy with the semiya having absorbed more of that milk and having a nice bite to it.

A nice chilled semiya payasam is a lot thicker and Oh My God, so much more tastier, if you ask me.

You can alter the consistency even after you finish preparing the dish! As I mentioned, once it cools, it tends to become thicker. You can hit the undo button by adding hot or cold milk and get the desired consistency once more before serving. Not many desserts allow you that option now, do they?

How to Prepare Chilled Semiya Payasam.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Milk - 5 cups 
  • Vermicelli/Semiya - 3/4 cup
  • Sugar-free Natura - 1/2 cup
  • Cashew nuts - 8 - 10
  • Cardamom - 4-5
  • Raisins -10 -15
  • Ghee - 2 tbsp

  • Add 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pan and roast the vermicelli until you start to see a golden brown colour. Remove and keep aside.
  • Now heat the rest of the ghee in the same pan and fry cashew nuts and raisins. 
  • Powder the cardamom.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, boil milk and now add the roasted vermicelli and cook on medium heat, stirring it continuously for 7 to 10 minutes or till you achieve your desired consistency.
  • Add Sugarfree Natura and stir it well before finally adding the cardamom powder, cashew nuts and raisins on top.
  • Allow this mixture to cool and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Click the picture to see the full size version which you can
also save onto your mobile devices for easy offline reference.
Happy Cooking!

And that is all there is to it! An easy-peasy insanely yummilicious dessert that will have everyone queuing up for seconds.

Have fun, everyone!

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Meetha :(

    I am trying to cut on to it and then you post things like these :(

    1. How much more weight can you lose? You've done the hard work and become gorgeous... now its my turn to appear as the devil and tempt you - kheer. cakes. chocolatessssss

  2. Meetha :(

    I am trying to cut on to it and then you post things like these :(

  3. Sugar free in a payasam? Why would you want to do that? :P

    I have made this a zillion times and absolutely love it. Have you tried adding some condensed milk to the regular milk to make it more creamy? Try it, you will thank me soon :)

    1. Haha... it's part of the contest rules :)
      And yes, I think condensed milk would actually make it even more creamier.. damn. salivating at the thought! why u do this?? why?????

  4. I don't know if I would like semiya payasam cold... I love it fresh and creamy and yummy!!! :D
    And no sugar substitutes unless it becomes mandatory! The very little dessert that I do eat - I want it rich and sugary and yummy!! :D

    Sigh! Now, I'm craving for a bowl of this goodness! :D Was this your way of taking revenge on me - you know for the truffles and the food post?! :P :P

    1. Do give the cold version a shot.. The Vermicelli gets thicker as it absorbs the milk and becomes absolutely delicious :)
      Sugar substitutes here is for the sake of the particular contest... At home yes, it's good old sugar for us.

      And yes, if there are food posts that made me salivate, rest assured I will have my vengeance by posting at inappropriate times and making bloggers read them at that time :D

  5. I love this smeiya payasam..My mom makes it, of course, because I'm terrible in the kitchen..You have just made me hungry Doc..! Thank God my mom is with me now so I can ask her to make some for me :)

    1. Hehe... common! I have faith in you! You can make it too :D

  6. OoohI love these desserts cold too! Although the aroma of the dry fruits and the cardamom comes out sharper when they're hot. Still, they taste so much better when cold.
    By the way, I have never used ghee fried dry fruits in a dessert so far. I've only dry roasted them.
    Soumya is right... condensed milk will make it so much more delicious. Must try it someday.
    -Chicky @ miss_teerious

    1. Yes, must consider condensed milk as you both mentioned...

  7. Traditional recipe with sugar free twist.. Tempting! :)

    1. Hehe... one less reason to say no to desserts :)

  8. Oh my!!! that looks yummyyyy ... You can cook too!!! and make food look this delicious... I love both hot and cold versions, with lots of dried fruits :D

    1. Yes... Creative Cooking Awards is my next aim :D

  9. Oh, yum. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

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