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Mithi Sev (Sweet Vermicelli Dessert)

Today is the start of Holi and many people celebrate with bonfires, prayers, popcorn and mithai (sweet desserts) before the main event of throwing coloured powders all over each other tomorrow. Our family traditionally makes Mithi Sev this day and when my Nanima was growing up in Kenya, she would make the vermicelli from scratch; making the paste and pressing out into thin noodles in the morning, laying them onto large sheets to dry out in the sunshine during the day, and then making mithi sev in the evening for the family to enjoy.


  • 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 piece tuj (cinnamon)
  • 2 lavin (cloves)
  • 4 nests vermicelli, crushed
  • 1 pint milk
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 5 tbsp sugar, or more if you have a sweet tooth
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 heaped tbsp pistachios, plus some for decoration
  • 1 heaped tbsp almonds, plus some for decoration
  • 1 tsp of desiccated coconut


1. Open up the cardamom pods and scoop out the black/brown seeds, discarding the shell. Grind the seeds with a little sugar into a fine powder. Finely cut the almonds and pistachios or crush them in a food processor

2. In a large pan, melt the ghee over a medium heat. Once melted, add tuj, lavin and the vermicelli, stirring often to stop it sticking at the bottom. At the same time, heat the milk and saffron (either in a pan until simmering or just whack it in the microwave for a few minutes

Milk and saffron

3. Once the vermicelli turns a golden brown colour, add in the hot milk. Be careful, as the milk can splash so have the pan cover to hand

Golden brown toasted vermicelli

4. Add in the sugar, almonds, pistachios, ground cardamom and nutmeg and stir thoroughly. Cook on a medium heat for a good 15 minutes, until the vermicelli is soft and has soaked up the milk like the picture below

5. Take out into a serving bowl and sprinkle the desiccated coconut and the remaining crushed almonds and pistachios over the top

Common variations include adding sultanas or cashew nuts so mix it up depending what you fancy or based on whatever’s in your cupboard. Some people make it with water instead of milk but our family loves it nice and creamy.