Sunday, January 21, 2018

Two ways to use Vermicelli


—Photos courtesy

Mark Fraser

We as Trinidadians are always looking forward to a holiday-it’s in our culture. No matter the purpose, time or place we love to share and celebrate with our brothers and sisters of different backgrounds.

One element we can definitely admit we look forward to is the foods associated with the celebration. Just like Divali when we impatiently await the abundance of mouth-watering dishes and sweets in sight, we can never seem to pass on an opportunity to indulge in a nice cup, bowl or mug of sawine-because it’s just that good. 

Sawine is a dish made by Muslims to mark the end of the month of Ramadan and a successful fasting period rewarded with spiritual accomplishments. 

However, growing up in such a colourful nation, everyone-both Muslim and non Muslims-look forward to this partaking. And even though there is the ‘proper’ way to make this delightful dish, many have adopted their own spin on it as the years go by.

It isn’t difficult to make once you have all the right ingredients and a recipe to guide you through the process. Have these things at your finger tips and you’re ready to make your own serving of this creamy treat. First you start off with the main ingredient, vermicelli which must be parched before combining it with the others. It should be broken and constantly turned in a pot under a low to medium heat (to avoid burning) until evenly brown. Butter can be used in this process if desired. 

After leaving the now toasted vermicelli to cool for some time we are ready to continue. Place the vermicelli back into the pot (one big enough for a large serving) and add approximately 4-5 cups of water, cinnamon (ground or whole), cloves, cardammon and grated ginger. This mixture should boil on a low heat until everything comes together well and the vermicelli is soft. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes.

Now that we’re on the home stretch, the element of sweetness is added to bring the entire taste together. Condensed milk and evaporated milk should be added at this point (feel free to add sugar if you like). And for some additional flair why not throw in some cherries, almonds or raisins? Ensure that everything is mixed together well and simmered nicely for a couple minutes. When it seems to fit your liking both visually and in taste-you’re done! 

Now, you can round up your friends and family and enjoy the sweet sensation that is sawine. You can have it at any temperature to your liking-hot, cold or warm together with a feeling of pride knowing that you made it yourself. Who knows maybe you can surprise your Muslims friends and invite them over to join you. And even better, now you won’t have to wait for the spiritual holiday that is Eid to look forward to this delicious dessert. 

If you are tired of the traditional sawine recipe want a twist, here’s an idea you can try from


Vermicelli Cake



200g (1 pack) vermicelli noodles

14 maraschino cherries, roughly chopped

desired amount of currants (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



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 (everyone’s 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.