Seveyan (Sweet vermicelli Dessert) is a popular South Asian sweet served on the two Muslim days of celebration, known as Eid (Eid ul Fitr, at the end of Ramadhan, and Eid ul Adha, during the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as Hajj). This dish is so easy to prepare, so I am often left wondering why people do not make it more often. The beauty of making sweets from scratch is that you can control how much sugar goes into it. Since I use sweetened condensed milk, I put less sugar than many recipes call for.
The following recipe is one that I have worked out, based on a few recipes that I have found across the Internet, my personal taste, and ingredients that allow for shortcuts (toasted vermicelli, for example). It should be noted that the vermicelli in this recipe is not the same as the kind that is used in Italian recipes. Toasted vermicelli can be found at most South Asian stores and halal markets.
1 c Fine Vermicelli, broken into pieces no longer than 3″ long (there is a brand that is already broken up. Look for it!)
6 c Milk
1/4 to 1 c Sugar* (see note regarding sugar below)
1/2 c Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 c dates, pits removed, and coarsely chopped
1 TBSP Raisins (white or red)
1 c sliced almonds, toasted
4 or 5 strands of saffron (optional, but highly recommended)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cardamom powder (to taste)
Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed, large stock pot to a boil. Add sugar*, raisins, dates, saffron, cardamom powder, and almonds. Lower heat to medium, and stir till sugar is dissolved. Let simmer till the milk is reduced by 1/4 (you usually end up with a line on the side of the pot from the first boil to use as reference), stirring often to keep the milk from burning. Add the condensed milk and vermicelli, stir. Lower the heat to low to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (again to keep it from burning).
Optional: Once the seveyan has been poured into the serving bowl, you may garnish it with almonds, cashews, coconut slivers, etc. (I sometimes like to sprinkle on a bit more cardamom powder, since I am fond of the flavor!)
*A note about sugar: The amount necessary varies, depending on your other ingredients being used. If using sweetened condensed milk, AND Medjool Dates (these are the big, pretty dates, sold in America by the Bard Valley Date Growers, in red packages), 1/4 c sugar is sufficient. Medjools are pretty sweet on their own, so if you do not cut back the amount of sugar, the end results will be sickeningly sweet! If using unsweetened milk and Medjool dates, 1/2 c sugar should be enough. If using the small (and to my opinion, tasteless) dates that are generally sold in the baking aisle of the grocery store, with unsweetened condensed milk, again 1/2 c sugar should do the trick. Using the small dates with sweetened condensed milk would require about 1/2 c sugar. Always err on the side of caution with the sugar added to this dish. It gets sweet really quickly!