Indian Stir Fried Noodles

Hey everyone, I’m still alive! That’s what I’ve been reminding all my friends and family who have almost stopped calling or checking on me. Well, mostly because I have been “off the grid” because of all this moving and packing madness going on in our household. Its only when you have to pack them in boxes that you realize how big of a hoarder you are. I’m writing about this just to tell you that this is what’s keeping me from coming here on Indian Simmer and doing what I love to do. So please hang in there with me!


Alright, lets talk about some happy things! I might have told you how fun and special my recent trip to India was. I got to do a lot of things, some of them new and some after a long time. Rode around the city in an auto rickshaw after years. What an experience it was to walk on the same streets you grew up in, this time with a camera in hand and a different perspective maybe.


This was the first time I got to spend a few days with A‘s family (my in-laws) without the husband! I was anxious and nervous, very nervous. I had friends telling me that its a whole different ball game with his family when the husband is not around. Hence the anxiety and nervousness to see how that experience was going to be. Well, it really was a different ball game! I got to know them in a way I was not able to do before and got closer to them like never before. Papa (his dad) is a simple man. You just cook him his favorite dal makhani and he’s all yours. He will talk to you about politics, world issues and stock market at the same time he can tell you about what’s the latest trend in India right now or which movie is not doing very well in the box office. You can have a conversation with him on any topic and he’ll be right there with you!


Mumma (his mom) is not very much a talker. You will have to either meet her in the kitchen or talk about her kids or maybe both! Stand by her side learning how to make A‘s favorite gulab jamun or pani puri. Through her glasses you can see a sparkle in her eyes when she shares those recipes and every little story attached to them. She would religiously try to learn my recipe for his favorite pasta or chocolate cake so that the next time when the son visits she can surprise him with some. We would climb the mango tree (well, I climbed the tree but she was the one who motivated me to!) to get some raw mangoes so that she can make her signature mango mint chutney that A still misses.  I was nervous how I would relate to them with A not around, but forgot that it is A who relates me to them.

You know how there are a few dishes that only your mom can make the right way? Every person has one, so does Mumma. These stir fried noodles is one of them. Its a very simple recipe using sevaiyan (thick vermicelli) with few ingredients involved but however hard I tried, I could never get it right for him. Sometime the noodles were too thin, the oil too little or sometimes it was just about the curry leaves. I wondered if it was simply about a different set of hands or cook. So one of my agenda’s from this trip was to perfect the art of cooking his mom’s stir fried noodles.

I shared the same with mumma and I could see the excitement on her face just hearing that. She made several trips to the chaurahe waali dukan (corner shop) until she found the right noodles, managed to pluck some curry leaves from the neighbor’s plant while they were having their afternoon siesta and made sure I listened! Yes, I listened and took notes. After coming back home this was first thing that I cooked. Did it again and again until I exhausted the whole stock of vermicelli that had she sent with me and until I came close enough to her taste. I guess I can never make it taste like mumma’s but close enough is good enough for me! Here I am sharing the recipe with you.


2 cups thick vermicelli (wheat vermicelli that you can find in any Indian market if not in your local store)
1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tbsp curry leaves (roughly chopped if the leaves are too big for you)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp lemon juice


In a saucepan boil some salted water. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
Heat oil in a separate wide pan or my mom-in-law uses an Indian wok. Add mustard seeds.
Once they start to pop, add curry leaves. Step aside after adding the leaves as they can pop and splatter oil on you.
Add chopped onion and cook until its translucent.
Add coriander and curry powder. Mix and add the vermicelli (if you got long vermicelli, break them smaller – 2 to 3 inch in length).
Fry the noodles for a couple of minutes for them to nicely coat in oil.
Start adding water slowly. A little less water can leave the noodles undercooked and a little extra can make them soggy. So the trick is to add a little water, keep stirring for noodles to cook and at the same time extra water to evaporate. Keep doing the same until the noodles are just a touch undercooked.
Turn off the heat, add a splash of lemon juice, mix and cover the noodles for a few minutes. Steam trapped in the pan will cook the noodles through.
Serve hot.


  1. Hi this looks really yummy. Thank you for sharing. I have question -how do you pack it for kids lunch.. If they are going to eat after few hours wont they become soggy/cold/ sticky? Thank you!

    • Hira,
      I try to let it cool a little before it goes in my daughter’s lunchbox that way the steam doesn’t cook the noodles further and it doesn’t get soggy. Trick is to add little water at a time and stop right away as you feel its al dante. That way the noodles do not end up getting soggy. Hope this helps 🙂

  2. Donno how i found your blog, but i’m glad i did and i must say that all your pictures are amazing and your style of writing is so unique and i find it really wonderful. You make a great story teller.
    Keep Posting. 🙂

  3. Hello,
    We love your recipes, especially when its on Noodles.
    These are so delicious.
    I have always looked at your blog for the various pictures and the way you write.Just Love it!
    You have shared some nice information about Indian Stir Fried Noodles in this post.
    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    VentairIndia Team

  4. Yummy! I made it twice, and the second time was much better. I had someone tell me to put the noodles into the wok uncooked and add water, which I did. These take very little water! I also burned the curry leaves once, and had them spatter at me when I put them into the oil. Tricky, but so much fun to learn something new. Thanks for sharing (and I love the story behind your meal)!

  5. I made the noodles first without any meat, just to make sure I can make the noodles. I followed your directions “In a saucepan boil some salted water. Add salt to taste. Set aside.” I boiled 2 1/2 cups water with 1tspn salt and then added more salt after. It turned out way to salty! Lol But that is cooking, you learn from your mistakes!
    Also, I put the mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves (from my dad’s garden) in really hot oil which made it burn too quickly.
    Everything else worked out fine, especially pouring the water in little at a time to let it cook and steam, I got the perfect texture.
    I am going to try it again and maybe add sliced chicken or sliced beef. Thanks again!

  6. Hi Joe,
    I have never tried adding any meat to the dish maybe because we are used to eating it this way that I never thought about it. But I am sure you can use it just like we sometimes add veggies. But you might want to cook the meat well before adding the noodles because they take just a couple minutes to cook. Let me know how they came out.

  7. Love the semiya upma.. I could not get them right too at first. These days I buy the pre roasted ones. They come out so well.. Lovely clicks.. wish I could have some pani puri.. looks so tempting

  8. What a great recipe and a delightful story. It reminded me of the times I stayed at my father-in-laws ranch and all the wonderful home grown food he cooked for us.
    I have the little bags of vermicelli and everything else I need for this. I can’t wait to try the recipe.

  9. What breathtaking photos! And a beautiful story to go with the recipe. I feel like I was in India with you. I studied abroad there many years ago and have always wanted to go back. In the meantime, I will make this dish. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Hi The Waspy Redhead!
    I would think that fideo might work if you can’t find the Indian vermicilli. Although I have never used it so will be able to guarantee that outcome would be the same but hey, cooking is all about trial and error isn’t it?! 🙂
    Let me know how they come out.

  11. This looks so delicious! Do you think I could use the kind of vermicelli used in mexican food like fideo? That is really easy to find in San Antonio, and looks very similar.

    Welcome back!

  12. This is what we call “semiya uppuma” and is a favourite breakfast in my home. I don’t add curry powder or coariander powder, but do a south Indian tadka and then add cashews/ peanuts and a sprinkling of coconut and green chillies.
    Can see your camera loved India. 🙂 Good luck with the move and settling in.

  13. beautiful story! some things will never taste just like Mumma/Mom/Auntie/Grandmother etc, but it’s the thought and nostalgia that counts. your version looks delicious.

    and gulab jamon? share, share!

  14. your photography is beautiful! i found your blog by noticing a tweet between you and my friend, marla.

    I love your recipes, your blog vibe, photography, right up my alley!

  15. Your description of your mother in law in your kitchen put me right there. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have to wipe the drool from my keyboard after looking at these wonderful photos.

  16. I’m learning so much from my mother in law at the moment so I can totally relate. I love to create the recipes which M loves from childhood and see the look of satisfaction on the family’s face!Beautiful post as always

  17. I love this post!! I just had a two week vacation bonding with my in-laws. And i am so glad you got to do that. And i loved that you shared it with all of us. Very nice post and this dish sounds fabulous. Glad you had a great time in India. Nice to have you back!

  18. Hi there.. I’m a new reader and glad I checked in at the right time.. you are back on the grid? LOVE the photos and I am looking forward to getting to know you.

  19. Simple dishes turn wonderful with just the touch of mom’s….that’s magic….i always keep saying to myself when my kid grows to taste the food i cook, then she will certify me as best cook…:-)that colorful auto is attention seeker……Vermicelli looks yum…

  20. What wonderful stories of your connecting with his family. They sound lovely and yes, there are some things only mom can make just right but your version looks amazing to me. I’ll be happy to eat it anytime you wanna make it ;p

  21. I love that this recipe comes from your family and that after so many attempts to get it right, you are sharing it with us! Your pictures are beautiful, and it sounds like your time with your in-laws was truly precious.

  22. 🙂 Sweet post and am glad that the you will not be anxious ever again. The best way to know them is actually to be alone with them! LOVE LOVE LOVE the photographs (did I say that before? ):) one day I will take some classes from you.

  23. This looks absolutely delicious! The problem is, as I don’t have someone to make it for me the first time, how am I to know if I have it right??? 🙂 I will definitely be trying it for my boys~
    Thank you my friend,

  24. Loved the write up & how successfully you related well with ur in laws 🙂 And yes, this is one dish that never comes out as perfect as mom does..Vermicelli upma is one of my most fav dish & ur version looks too tempting..Glad to see ur post after a long time..Missed `em & ur breathtaking photography;)
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  25. I can relate to your in-laws story. My Indian partner’s dad can go on for hours and be dazzled with a simple sambar. I don’t attempt to cook any of Vijay’s favorites from his mum, let her pamper him with her specialties and I with mine. 😉

    The curry leaves shot is stunning, I love it in a lot of non-Indian dishes as well. This original recipe is a keeper, though I’ll have to adapt with a different noodle.

    Thumbs up for squeezing in this beautiful post with all your crazy moving work going on Prerna!

  26. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post Prerna. I loved the recipe as well. I still have some two packets of MTR vermicelli in my pantry. Will try making as per your recipe. 🙂

  27. Just a beautiful post. I never stayed with my inlaws .. it was just after our wedding for a week and that’s it. Arvind has some such dishes which only mummy can make .. and no matter how much i tried .. it never came even close to good. So, I am waiting to learn from mummy all those dishes. This is one such dish which i can never make nice .. it will become soggy or sticky .. but hubby does an excellent job on that 🙂
    PS: Those props!! SIGH..

  28. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Loved the noodle dish.

    There is an old saying that goes ” Tis better for your house to burn down twice, than to move it once” When you are moving your boxes, it almost feels true. God luck with the move.


  29. What a sweet story. And what a lovely way to get to really know someone…to cook with them.
    The noodles look delicious.
    O, and you can get curry leaf trees here in California!

  30. For some reason, I got really teary reading this post. What a wonderful connection you made with your in-laws. Those sorts of bonds are the truly unforgettable parts of life. You are an absolutely gem, Prerna and this recipe is going on my “must-try” list.

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