Vermicelli (Semiya) Upma/ Shavige Uppittu

vermicelli upma semiya upma
This will probably be my last post for the Light Lunches Event here @RedChillies an on-going event for the month of June. This event focuses on light lunches that are easy on the calories, yet rich in taste and delicious.

 Once such dish that fits the bill and one which I make often is this Vermicelli Upma (called as Shaivge upma in Kannada). Semiya is Indian vermicelli and is available in the Indian grocery stores. 

At our home it has transformed from a breakfast/tiffin/evening snack dish to a main course lunch/dinner dish owing to lack of time. The good thing is that this is a one dish meal and that means less work with cleaning and dish washing. This is also a crowd pleaser and can be put together in no time (if you have the semiya/shevai on hand). This is also a good one to make when you are looking for quick ideas when unexpected guests arrive.

 Growing up, as kids we preferred this upma over the regular Sooji upma. My mom would then sneak in as many veggies as possible to make this colorful and healthy. You can add the vegetables mentioned here or more to make it nutritious. This is a kid’s favorite dish as it looks more like noodles. You can reduce the amount of green chillies and sprinkle little bit of sugar before offering it to them.


  • There are two varieties of Vermicelli available (at least in the Bambino variety) the plain broken vermicelli and the roasted vermicelli.
  • Using the roasted vermicelli makes the upma process easier as it prevents the extra step of roasting. This is also non-sticky and avoids forming clumps.
  • But taste wise I like the plain vermicelli better and I like roasting the vermicelli myself. But the color of the vermicelli in this case will not be white.

shavige uppittu

How to prevent the vermicelli from sticking?

  • Roast the vermicelli in little oil slowly so that it is evenly browned. Keep aside. Also use the correct amount of water while cooking. This prevents the vermicelli from sticking.
  • If pre-cooking the vermicelli, then first boil the vermicelli in water as per package suggestion. After draining the hot water, add running cold water. After the cold water is drained add about a tsp of oil and toss it gently so that the oil sticks all around. This prevents from vermicelli sticking to each other.


Vermicelli Upma Recipe


  • 2 cups  vermicelli/ semiya/ shavige ( I use this Bambino variety)
  • ½ cup onion (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup peas (shelled)
  • ¼ cup carrot (chopped finely)
  • ¼ cup potato (peeled and chopped finely)
  • 2-3 green chillies ( finely chopped )
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad daal
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Cilantro (for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup broken cashew (optional)
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • Salt


  • Please read the notes above before proceeding.
  • Heat 1 tsp of oil in pan over medium heat and add the vermicelli. Keep stirring the mixture until the vermicelli turns pale brown. Transfer to plate and keep aside.
  • In the same pan now heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add mustard seeds, urad dal and mix until the urad daal turns light brown in color.
  • Add the chopped onion and green chillies.  After the onion has cooked a little add the chopped carrots, potatoes and peas and keep stirring. (Since the vegetables are chopped finely, they will cook fast.)
  • Add salt and little bit more oil if necessary and stir continuously.
  • Add 3 cups of water to this and let it come to boil. At this point check for seasoning. It is better to have the correct taste at this time.
  • Add the roasted vermicelli to this, stir, turn the heat to medium and cover with a lid.
  • After 5 minutes stir again and now partially cover the pan until the water has all absorbed. Turn off the heat.
  • Lastly garnish with lemon juice, chopped cilantro and cashew pieces. Keep the lid covered for another 5-10 minutes. Stir again and serve hot.


semiya uppuma

Garden Pasta Salad

garden pasta salad

Don’t we all look for light healthy food options?  I do and I look for low fat, healthy, vegetarian lunch ideas all the time and that is the idea behind the Light lunch Event. Throughout the month of June I will be posting recipes of salads, sandwiches, rice, breads etc food that not only looks good, but tastes good too and which is easy on the stomach. 

Also head over to Jaya’s space as she is joining me in this Light Lunches event and check out her lunch ideas as well.

I make this Pasta Salad pretty often at home. With vegetables like celery, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper and onions all tossed in, this is a super healthy, great tasting and low calorie salad. It is lightly dressed with just vinegar and pepper powder. Of course, you can add any dressing of choice if you do not like vinegar. 

Frankly it has taken me years to the get the acquired taste of eating salads and developing a love for them. About 6-8 years ago I wouldn’t have imagined eating salad as snack let alone as lunch. It is a 180 turn but now I love them and would not mind surviving on them. 

Aren’t those grape tomatoes so cute? They form wonderful addition to salads and I could snack on them all the time. 

Note that you can use any vegetable of choice that you prefer. Almost everywhere Garden pasta salads contain olives, but I am not too fond of olives; hence I do not use it in my salad. But if you like them, then please go for it. 

Also I do not like my salads cold even during hot summers; I prefer it to be at room temperature, but I like to gulp this salad down with fresh juice or smoothies.


  • ¼- ½  cup uncooked pasta (any shape will do) [I used whole wheat one]
  • ¼  cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup cooked broccoli
  • 1 stalk celery (cleaned & chopped)
  • ½  cup bell pepper (chopped)
  • ½  cup cucumber (peeled & chopped)
  • Handful of grape tomatoes (chopped) [use regular tomatoes]
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar or (use any dressing like  Italian-style salad dressing)
  • ¼ cup olives (optional)
  • ¼ cup almonds (sliced)
  • ½  cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • ½ cup Lettuce/spinach/any greens/ basil
  • pepper powder (per taste)
  • oil


  • Take a pot and boil water in it. Add the uncooked pasta, salt, little oil and cook until al dente. Rinse under cold water so that it does not stick and drain water completely.
  • Take a big bowl and mix chopped celery, olives, broccoli, cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, and onion together.
  • Add the cooked pasta to this and mix again. Pour vinegar, crushed pepper over mixture
  • Add Parmesan cheese, sliced almonds to this before serving.  

Finally, do not forget to leave your comment on the Event page (if you have not done so) for a chance to win that cool Taste of Home cookbook. The event ends on June 20th and there are only 4 days left.

Guacamole Sandwich Flats

Call them thin buns, sandwich thins, slim sandwich bread, sandwich flats they are the same, just names that companies come up with to market their brands. If you have not seen them, then think of the regular old chubby buns minus the extra trimmings and you have a thin sandwich bun. I like the name Sandwich Flats the best and refer to them that way. They are thin yet hearty just 100 calories each and perfect for a light lunch as sandwich or even a quick snack.

I like to have this as sandwich with layer of Guacamole. Guacamole is an avocado-based dip which is very popular here in the US. It is creamy, healthy and delicious. It has to be used immediately; otherwise it tends to oxidize pretty fast. 

How to keep the guacamole from getting brown? (Found some useful information on the net) 

  • Putting the avocado pits back into the dip and keeps it from getting brown for several days.
  • Squeeze good amount of Lemon juice and the acid part prevents it from getting brown easily.
  • Simply cover the dip bowl with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap completely covers the surface of the guacamole.

Ingredients for the Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic pods (peeled)
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 green chilli/jalapeno (optional)
  •  salt
  • 1 Tbsp oil


  • Cut the avocados and remove the seeds. (You can see an online link here with pictures) Take a spoon and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl. Mash it gently using a fork.
  • Using a chopper (I use this chopper here ) pulse garlic, green chilli, salt (except onions) together. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and oil. 
  • Add the mashed avocado and pulse again. Transfer it to a bowl. Add the chopped onion, cilantro, little more lemon juice.
  • Note: We do not like our guacamole chunky and do not like big bits of avocado.
  • Cover the bowl well so that it is air tight. 


At work, I usually keep a bag of this sandwich bread handy. Depending on my mood for lunch for that day, I get a tomato and guacamole. Of course, storing guacamole is a problem as it oxidizes pretty fast. I usually get a small amount of it in an air tight plastic box and transfer it to the fridge at work that way it does not brown as much. Assembling the sandwich is a breeze and I usually down this with some yogurt and or chips. 

Now if you do not prefer the Guacamole then you can add anything you like on the sandwich, Mustard-ketchup, hummus, pepper relish, cream cheese or even some coriander chutney etc and the list is endless.

Again this is a guideline and not much of a recipe; you can customize this depending on your taste. You can use regular bread (toasted), regular bun, pita bread, and wraps instead of the thin sandwich that I have used here. And use the toppings/veggies depending on taste.

Ingredients for the sandwich

  • 2 sandwich flats
  • 1 big tomato (cut in circles)
  • 3-4 big onion rings
  • 2-3 cucumber circles (optional)
  • 2-4 big spinach leaves (replace with lettuce)
  • 1 tsp crushed pepper
  •  Guacamole (see above)
  • 2 cheese slices (any cheese will do)

How to Assemble 

  • Open up the sandwich flats. On the inside of one half of the sandwich, slather the prepared guacamole evenly with a knife/spoon.
  • On the other sandwich half , first place a cheese slice at the bottom, top it with spinach leaves, tomato slice, onion ring and then top it off with the guacamole slathered top.
  • Repeat the same with another sandwich. Eat with some yogurt and chips.