Recipe: Semiya/Vermicelli Payasam (Dessert)

IMG_6073This sweet is the favourite of everyone at home, especially the children and is my go-to recipe when I need to whip up a sweet for any festival. GG & BB love it so much that I have to hide some for S, otherwise, he won’t get any when he comes home from work! This is a very easy recipe but takes a little bit of time stirring if you want to get the rich taste.

IMG_6072Semiya/Vermicelli Payasam


  • 1 cup vermicelli
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-litre milk (full cream is the best for taste)
  • 10-12 pieces cashew nuts (chopped into half)
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee


  • In a deep bottom pan, heat the ghee and when it warms, fry the raisins till they plump up and keep aside in a kitchen towel.
  • In the same pan, fry the cashew nuts until they turn brown and crisp and remove into the same kitchen towel.
  • With the remaining ghee, fry the vermicelli till it becomes brown and starts to develop an aroma.
  • At this point, pour 1/3 to half a litre of milk and let it come to a rolling boil. Reduce the flame and let the milk and vermicelli boil until the vermicelli is completely cooked. This will take between 15-20 minutes. If at any point, the milk reduces, add some more milk to cover the vermicelli.
  • When the vermicelli is completely cooked, add the remaining milk and let it come to a nice rolling boil.
  • Now add the sugar and let it boil for a while until the sweet has thickened.
  • Add the sugar, cardamom, saffron and the nuts and let it boil for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the flame and let it cool before serving.
  • This sweet is very tasty both hot or cold, but we prefer to drink it cold. A few hours in the fridge really improves the taste dramatically.


  • If you want to increase the proportions, just remember to put the sugar and vermicelli in a ratio of 1:1.
  • I prefer to use a pestle and mortar to grind my cardamom on an ‘as I need it‘ basis. I feel that grinding a whole bunch of cinnamon at the same time makes the smell of the spice go away after a while. You will need the pods from 5-6 cardamoms to make up ¼ tsp of the powder.

In My Hands Today…

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil – Deborah Rodriguez

316558Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.

Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.

With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.

2016 Week 35 Update

The haze is back in Singapore! I really thought that we will be missing it this year, but it hit us this weekend, peaking on Friday and Saturday and then petering off on Sunday. Hopefully, this does not come back, though meteorological reports say otherwise. We’ll be having the PSI rising when the winds blow the hazy winds towards us.

September starts this week and it’s my favourite month of the year. BB, GG and I have our birthdays this month and it’s also the month with the birthday of my favourite God – Lord Ganesh which, this year, happens next week. It’s also the month which starts the countdown to the festival of Diwali, so all-in-in I really like this month. Hope this month turns out to be as special as I wish it to be!

Update on BB’s poonal preparations – the printer has still not sent me the mock-up of the card, he was to send it to me last week itself, but nothing yet. I waited till Friday to see if he would send it to me by email, and then gave up and called him. He said he was sick and so could not do it and said he would send it to me the same day or latest by Saturday. I now have to chase him later today. I also wrote to two photographers, whose contacts I got from friends and they’ve not yet responded too. Need to chase them too and finalise the photographer soon. Last I need to finalise where else in India we will be going after the poonal and book tickets for that place along with our Singapore-India plane tickets. Lots of work this week for me.

My Reading Challenge update – I’ve read 145 of my updated challenge of 150 (if you remember, my original challenge was 125 books in 2016). I’ve now updated my challenge to 155 books and every time I am 5 books shy of the target (until December), I will increase the challenge by another 5 books. I am hoping (really) to reach 200 books this year, lets see if I manage it!

Have a great week folks and happy September!



Secondary 1 Week 35 Update

Nothing much to update this week except for BB once again getting ticked off in school. On Thursday, I got a call from him saying his Geography teacher wanted to speak to me. When I spoke to the teacher, it turns out that Mr BB had not handed over a graded assignment, in spite of the teacher giving him an extra day to do so. His teacher is a nice person who does not want to spoil his overall grades, so even though she was justified in giving him a zero, she will be giving him pro-rated marks based on his classwork, which is around average. I was so mad at him, within the last two weeks, this is the second incident where he has shown zero interest in school!

Next week is the last week of term 3 and then from Friday it’s a 10-day break for the children before they start term 4 or ‘Exam Term’ as I’d like to call it. Both will have to go back to school a couple of days during the term break for supplementary work or CCA or both.

September is a-calling folks!


In My Hands Today…

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) – Renee Ahdieh

18798983In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.