Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vermicelli Cake

It was only until I started tasting other people's cooking that made me realize that my mom really knows what she is doing in the kitchen.  She has a touch for the right amount of seasonings and an instinct for the right amount of flavor.  I have tasted many a vermicelli cake in my lifetime, some bland, some tasting like bare sugar and noodles, but none have ever been like my mom's.

I have received a few emails for a vermicelli cake recipe so I decided I would finally make it today.  Vermicelli cake, also pronounced vam-a-zelli in any given Guyanese home, is a dessert made from vermicelli noodles that has been simmered in milk flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices or extracts.  Once the noodles are cooked and the mixture resembles a pudding like texture, it is poured into a dish and left to firm up.  Once it is firm, it is cut into squares.  I must note here that Trinidadians make a very similar dish and it is called Sawine.  The only difference is the dessert is removed from the heat once the noodles are cooked.  This results in a sweet noodle soup like dish! My friend Anjy also described a dish called Paysum (which is the South Indian version) to be very similar to Sawine and in Pakistan it is known as Seviyan.  This is what it looks like:

My mom used to make this during Hindu holidays and any special occasion in our home, it was truly a treat and one that I will always love. I called my mom for this recipe and naturally, she gave me a recipe that indicated a dash of this and a pinch of that along with 2 pot spoons full of sugar. I said mom, "no one measures sugar that way".  So because you are all so wonderful, I decided I would try to make this easy for you and measure out two pot spoons of sugar.  It turns out that it is equal to a half cup.  I'm so nice to you aren't I?

Well here are the pictorial instructions for this really delicious dessert. If you can help yourself, try to eat it in moderation, it will taste better that way ;)

I used 200g of vermicelli noodles 

chop up 14 maraschino cherries, you can add more if you like

melt 1/2 stick butter and parch noodles till some of them become brown then add the milk

add one can evaporated milk plus 3 1/2 cups whole milk, sugar and vanilla 

add 1/2 tsp almond essence, nutmeg, cinnamon and stir everything together in the pot

when the mixture becomes thick (about 20 minutes) and heavily coats the back of the spoon, 
remove from heat and pour into a dish

this dish is 2 inches deep and my vermicelli came up 1 1/2 inches
 which is a good thickness for vermicelli cake

after it firms up, cut a piece...

serve and enjoy! 

 Vermicelli Cake

  • 200g (1 pack) vermicelli noodles
  • 14 maraschino cherries, roughly chopped
  • desired amount of currants (I used 1/4 cup)
  • 4 tbsp salted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water (not pictured above)
  1. Melt butter in a deep pot on low heat.  Add vermicelli noodles and parch it until some of the noodles become brown, this will happen fast so do not walk away from the stove. 
  2. Once some of the noodles are brown, add all the milks, extracts, and spices, add the water.
  3. Keeping the stove on low heat, let the noodles boil in the milk until they start to soften up, add cherries and currants. 
  4. About 15 minutes in, the mixture should start to clump together (everyones stove temperature is different so if it has not reached this stage as yet, just wait until it starts to look like a really thick pudding). 
  5. Mixture will look dried out, the liquid would have absorbed, if the mixture coats the back of a spoon thickly without dripping, then remove from heat and pour into a dish that will allow your vermicelli to be about 1 1/2 inches in thickness. 
  6. Let this sit out for about 2-3 hours to firm up, or you can put it into the refrigerator to firm up faster.  Cut and enjoy.


  1. Pretty cool dessert. I thought it was a savory dish at first.

  2. Very interesting. Have heard of this cake but never saw a recipe for it. Thanks for something different. N

  3. What size can of evaporated milk? N

  4. Hi Nanette,

    Thanks for visiting! I used a 12oz can of evaporated milk. I will indicate that in the recipe.

    Also Nisrine, I checked out your blog, it is so beautiful! Thank you also for visiting :)


  5. wow nice cake Alica. Yes we have sweet soupy dish called payasam/payasum, and the one with vermicili is called semiya payasam/vermicili payasam. This is a very nice varaition of the dish. take care.

  6. This looks great! I tried making it myself around Christmas time and failed miserably.

  7. I'm inspired. I will make this for my husband tonight. He cannot envision, as he calls it 'sweet pasta'. I'll show him sweet pasta!

  8. Awesome! I hope he likes it! lol "sweet pasta" is funny tho!

  9. Hi, I was looking online for Vermicelli cake recipes and stumbled upon your site. Your recipes look SO GOOD!! I am going to try a few of them (bake/saltfish, scalloped potatoes, custard block). Your website is inspiring! Thank you.

  10. I made this and it was delicious!! Thank u so much for the recipe. Keep them coming.

  11. I stumbled upon this post today while working on a newspaper story. Great recipe! I also shared this on my food blog:

  12. My parents used to say "vam-a-zell-i" and I had no idea that they were saying "vermicelli". Was that just me?

    1. Hi Gouda,

      No, you are correct, my parents used to say vamazelli as well haha! The correct name for this type of noodle is vermicelli though.

  13. Hi, made it tonight and it taste amazing! Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Lovely same as my mom's. Here in South India vermicelli is called sevia/seviyan the liguid sweet dish made is called payasam same as kheer which Is what it is called in North India and pudding in English. South also make a salt dish from sevia called upma.

  15. Lovely reminds me of my mom's. Here in South India vermicelli is called sevia/seviyan and the sweet dish made is called payasam, in north it is known as kheer. Also a salt dish is made from this in south called upma.