Alternative namesসেমাই
Place of originIndia
Region or stateKolkata, West Bengal
Associated cuisineIndian
Main ingredientsVermicelli, milk, cashew nuts, cardamom, Ghee
VariationsMilk Shemai, Dry Shemai

Shemai (Bengali: সেমাই) is a traditional Indian dessert originating in Kolkata, West Bengal.[1] Shemai is a popular item during both Hindu and Islamic festivals, however it's consumed throughout the year in the larger Bengal region.[2] Shemai is a dessert form of Vermicelli, soaked in sweet milk and often garnished with nuts.[3]


The staple ingredients of shemai are milk, ghee, sugar, roasted vermicelli, and various assortments of nuts and spices.[4][5] Shemai variations include a kheer version, dry fruits, and jodda shemai.[6]


Closeup of Shemai, a traditional dessert in Bengal.

Shemai originated in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.[1][7] Ice Today described shemai as a distant cousin of Sheer khurma, an Afghani dessert.[8] Some recipes used powdered milk and/or condense milk.[9][10]

There has been some questions over the hygiene of factories producing shemai.[11][12] In June 2016, substandard shemai, produced in unauthorized factories, flooded the market in Saidpur, Bangladesh.[13] Next year there was widespread adultered shemai in Chittagong.[14] Sales of packaged shemai fell during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. The prices also rose as many of the factories stopped production due to the pandemic.[15]


  1. ^ a b Leung, Mikey; Meggitt, Belinda (2009). Bangladesh. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 75. ISBN 9781841622934.
  2. ^ "Shemai all year round". Dhaka Tribune. 8 June 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Variations on Vermicelli". The Daily Star. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Snackilicious Eid". The Daily Star. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Best Of Bengali- Shemai (Sweet Vermicelli Pudding)". golden tiffin. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  6. ^ "সেমাইয়ের ৩ পদ". Bangla Tribune (in Bengali). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  7. ^ Majid, Hurmat. "Traditional sweetmeats from around the world". Pakistan Tribune. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  8. ^ Aziz, Irfan (3 June 2019). "Desserts of the World". ICE Today. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Colorful Dudh Shemai/ Vermicelli and Steamed Vermicelli/ Shemai Pudding". Khadiza's Kitchen. 1 October 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Vermicelli in Sweet Custard". Global Table Adventure. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  11. ^ "সেমাই খাবেন?". Kalerkantho (in Bengali). কালের কণ্ঠ. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  12. ^ Asad, Kazi Akib Bin (5 July 2016). "Variations on Vermicelli". The Daily Star. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Adulterated lassa flooded Syedpur". Daily Sun. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  14. ^ Shyamol, Nazimuddin. "Chittagong markets flooded by adulterated foods". The Asian Age. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Covid-19: Demand for vermicelli falls ahead of Eid". Dhaka Tribune. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.