Vermicelli Upma is a delicious Indian dish made with Indian vermicelli. Indian vermicelli is generally much thinner than its Italian counterpart & therefore can not be adequately substituted, although Indian vermicelli can easily be found in any Indian grocery store. Nowadays you can also buy Indian vermicelli that’s already toasted too, which is a nice timesaver.
This tasty noodle dish is flavored with fragrant aromatic spices & vegetables. Vermicelli Upma can be eaten for breakfast, served with afternoon tea or even eaten as a light meal. This variety of upma is commonly eaten throughout South India & in Maharashtra as well. It is very easy to prepare and delicious to eat. It is the quintessential comfort food and always a favorite in my house.
VERMICELLI UPMA (Savory Indian Vermicelli)
1½ cups Indian vermicelli, broken into small pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
3-4 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 cup green peas (frozen is fine)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal, (skinned & split black gram dal)
¼ cup toasted unsalted peanuts (or you can add cashew pieces)
6-8 fresh curry leaves
salt, to taste
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly grated coconut for garnish (optional)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large deep dry skillet on medium heat, add the vermicelli. Keep stirring continuously so as not to burn & until the vermicelli turns golden brown in color and a nutty fragrance is emitted. Remove the noodles from the skillet & keep aside until needed. If the vermicelli is already toasted, you may obviously omit this step.
In a small saucepan, add 3-3.5 cups of water & bring to a gentle boil.
Now to the same large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the oil. Now carefully, add the mustard seeds. When the splatter subsides, add the urad dal long with the green chilies & curry leaves. After 30 seconds or so, add the onions & stir-fry until the onions turn slightly brown. Now add the ginger, stir and add the green peas. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add in the noodles & season with salt. Stir to combine all of the ingredients & slowly add 3 cups of boiling water, stirring continuously while adding the water. Stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes. The upma is done when all the noodles have absorbed all the water & softened. Lastly add the lemon juice, stir and garnish with coconut & cilantro leaves. Serve hot with Indian snacks such as sev & various chivda mixes.
Instead of fresh green chilies, add dried red chilies instead. You could also add a tomato or other vegetables such as green beans, corn, carrots or small cauliflower florets.