Feb 15, 2012

Oil-Free Lime Vermicelli (Sevai)

Sevai is the quintessential Tamil breakfast. I don't know where it originated from but its probably made at least once a week in Tamil homes. It's a light noodle snack that is usually served with coconut chutney and even Sambar (a spicy squash, vegetable and lentil soup).

What's so special about the one I made? Well, it's completely devoid of refined oil. Why? For one, the word 'refined' should be a clue. Apart from the fact that it is a processed food, it is completely unnecessary in our diet. We all need essential fatty acids since our bodies don't synthesize them but we are wrong to think that we need it or get it from refined oils. We can get the same from whole nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables. Think of it this way: One teaspoon of peanut oil comes from two cups of peanuts. I'm sure I won't be able to eat two cups of peanuts, but one teaspoon of oil (and more) will easily go into any food I cook. When we refine foods, specially oils, it involves removing fiber, other essential vitamins and also heating them. Once heated, oils should ideally not be heated again because they become carcinogenic. The best oils to use are cold pressed oils but again they are devoid of much of the nutrition they are supposed to have. Also many people have successfully reversed Diabetes and Heart Disease by eliminating all animal foods and refined foods like maida, oils, fried stuff, sugar from their diet. You won't know unless you try it.

So in my daily cooking I avoid heating oils. I temper the spices on a dry pan and I cook onions and tomatoes in water. If I made it for you, you wouldn't be able to tell there wasn't any oil in it. But if you made it for yourself, you might feel that there is something lacking. It's all in the head!

This breakfast recipe is pretty much the same as any South Indian would make it, just that it is completely devoid of refined oil. I used store bought rice vermicelli but you can use brown rice or even ragi vermicelli to make it healthier.

Serves 3-4

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
1/2 teaspoon urad dal
1 teaspoon roasted chana dal
2 green chillis chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 small pack of rice vermicelli (about 180gms), cooked as per instructions
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
Juice of 1 big lime
Chopped Coriander to garnish

In a hot wok, add in the mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and stir it around till the mustard seeds splutter and the urad and chana dals being to brown. Add in the chillis and ginger and a teaspoon or two of water to prevent them from burning. Add the turmeric and asafoetida and stir. If you require more water add a teaspoon at a time. Once the turmeric is incorporated, add the cooked vermicelli and mix it well till it is an even yellow. If it dries out, add a little water. Add the salt and peanuts. Take it off the stove and then add the lemon juice and mix it well.  Garnish with coriander and serve hot.


  1. This looks delish! & I totally agree with your views on oil. Give me nuts and seeds over processed oil any day.

  2. You know, I never really thought about the quantity of food it takes to make whatever amount of oil. But I love how you did this - I love "dry" cooking and this looks especially yummy! ^^

  3. Thank you AikoVenus! Let me know if you try it out! :)

  4. I love the idea of eliminating the processed oils! cant tell from the look of the sevai that there isnt any oil in it!


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