Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sevai - rice noodles, South Indian style

Like I've said before, there's nothing like fresh-made sevai. And while the recipe to make the sevai dough is as simple as they come, the actual making process can be somewhat time- and energy-consuming. And yet it's worth the trouble, once in a rare while, to go the whole nine yards and make sevai from scratch.

Once it is made, the basic sevai can be made into several tasy dishes with various flavourings and additions - both sweet and savoury. As always, I prefer the savoury versions because my sweet tooth, never particularly pronounced, is getting shyer and more retiring by the day. Sevai can be made into lemon sevai, coconut sevai, masala sevai with vegetables, etc - but the classic combination is mor kuzhambu and poppadams, deep-fried. Dont ask me why mor kuzhambu and not any sambar - some things are just the way I've always known them!

By the way, sevai is traditionally made with parboiled rice (puzhungal arisi). I dont know if it would work with basmati rice or any other type of rice... one of these days I might give it a go, but if anybody out there has already tried making sevai with basmati or other rice varieties, please let me know how the sevai turned out!

If you dont have a sevai press, I believe you can use a
ribbon pakoda achu to the same effect - of course using the omapodi-making plate - the one with tiny holes. It would probably be even more time-consuming this way, though, as only a little dough can be used at a time to make the noodles.

Recipe for:


2 cups parboiled rice (puzhungal arisi)
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Water to soak the rice


1. Soak the rice in water for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Grind to a very smooth, thick batter (like idli batter) using only as much water as necessary. Stir in the salt and oil once the batter is ready.

3. Grease some
idli plates and pour the batter in each depression. Steam in a pressure cooker, without using the weight, for 10 minutes.

4. Turn the heat down to a simmer and carefully remove one idli plate from the stand. Close the cooker again. It is important that the noodle dough stays hot until just prior to being used. Cold dough is very, very difficult to work with.

5. Scrape the "idli" into the hollow cylinder of the sevai press.

6. Bring the top cylinder down over it and turn the handle (much easier to do if another person holds the legs of the press steady).

The pressure forces the noodles out of the tiny holes in the hollow cylinder. Use up the remaining dough in the same manner.

7. There it is - sevai ready for transformation into various flavoured avatars!

Note: The sevai needs to be "loosened" when cool - this can be done gently with two forks. If the sevai seems rather sticky, dampen your hands as necessary with water, and gently separate the noodles with your fingers.


Kay said...

Shammi, I love this dish too. We have it with potato kurma and also with ghee/sugar or coconut milk. Tastes divine. Readymade sevai cant beat the taste of the freshlymade one.

Our recipe also uses coconut(1/2 cup, freshly grated) and some ground elaichi seeds (seeds only) while grinding the rice.

Priya Bhaskaran said...

Shammi I have tried this earlier same way as yours. I did with idly rice. I grinded the batter and kept in the fridge. In the evening I tried with the idly moulds. It was a failure result for me. So do you immeditely make sevai after grinding the batter??

sailu said...

Shammi,I have never worked around with a sevai press ever..though i have eaten sevai with chicken korma at a friends place and it was excellent.I wish I could get my hand on a press like that.

Anonymous said...

Hello Shyamala,

I do read your food blog regularly but this is the first time i am commenting.
Sevai is one of all my time favourites too, though it is really really time consuming and laborious to make. Here in London, where i live, we get "string hoppers" which are rice noodles,, All you need to do is put them in boiling water for a few minutes and presto, your sevai is ready. Its obviously not as good as the real thing but i think it comes quite close.. I make it all the types you mention quite often, my favourite though is the mozrkozhambu and papad one.. How do you make the masala one ?


Anonymous said...

Hi Priya,

Yes, the batter needs to be steamed immediately after grinding - doesnt have to ferment like for real idlis. I must say I havent tried doing this with idly rice. Maybe I will one of these days, just to see how it turns out! :)

Anonymous said...

hi priya, as shammi says use only parboiled rice. Idli rice doest fetch a good result.My mom adds a little fresh coconut while grinding the batter.

Anonymous said...

Yes,realy sevai is a delicous food.
This is one of my favourites.
Now to make fresh sevai, automatic sevai maker is available.
please do visit "".

Raaga said...


I love this dish very much. I came across your blog through google search for the sevai making process. Great blog, lovely recipes. I've linked your page to my blog.


fourthjanuary68 said...

Hi shami,
I was looking for sevai recipe, as I suddenly remembered my mothers' sevai, that she used to make long back, she passed away in 1993, then i resorted to the net, in search of mother or sevai, I found you, what a wonderful explanation, it was stupendous with those pictures inbetween, stupendous keep the good work.

Arundathi said...

Made it today for the first time with a traditional sevai press and I must say the taste is remarkably different - much better this way - won't be using the ribbon pakoda method anymore. But what's with that press?! Its HUGE! Wish they made table top versions!!

asha said...

my fav dish is rice sevai only. my mother too prepares sevai very delicious and good for health but i lost her in the year 2997. i was worried very much without knowing the receipe and i was also confused whether it was par boiled rice or rice. now my doubt was cleared. i feel like as if my mother has come and told me.

Vasanti. S said...

This recipe has really helped me. My brother wanted me to make him sevai as our mother used to make and I had no clue since Mom passed away a couple of years back. I am feeling really relieved now as this is how Mom used to make her sevais. By the way, do you know the recipe for coconut milk that is used as an accompaniment for sevai?

Shammi said...

Hi Vasanthi, I'm so sorry about your mother's passing. I'm glad this recipe turned out useful. But I'm afraid I dont have a recipe for the coconut milk to which you refer. We usually have it with morkuzhambu, you see :)

Vasanti said...

Thanks a lot for the reply. We have it with Pulichery, applams and coconut milk. Anyway we are making sevai today will let you know how it came later today.

Vasanti. S said...

Hi Shammi, we made sevai yesterday and the family was really happy. Thanks a lot once again. I also managed to make the Coconut Milk, which was very easy really. Just dissolve some grated jaggery in coconut milk extracted from fresh grated coconut. Put on a slow fire and keep stirring continuously till the jaggery dissolves. Remove from fire before it starts to boil as otherwise it will curdle (or separate). Garnishing with powdered cardamom is optional. Preferably remove the prepared coconut milk to another vessel to prevent the heat from the vessel, in which it was prepared, from curdling the milk.