Soaked sago/tapioca pearls are cooked in a mild, aromatic seasoning with potatoes and garnished with grated coconut and lemon juice to produce this delectable dish that is put simply, a work of genius! Simple, yet rich in flavors and textures, whoever came up with sabudana khichidi for the very first time was pure genius :).
I remember introducing pearl tapioca to my kids, when they were little, by naming this dish as “magic pearls” :)! I was unsure if they will take to its unique taste at first, so was a little apprehensive while serving it to them. But, sabudana khichidi was an instant hit with them! They both still love it, but one prefers it without peanuts and so, I make 2 versions of it – one the traditional way and the other, without peanuts. I have to say, that I was surprised that the version without peanuts is equally yummy, so, this is something folks with nut allergies can consider!
Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
- Pearl tapioco/sago (sabudana) (2 cups)
- Potatoes (4 medium sized ones)
- Peanuts (2/3 cup or per taste)
- Oil (1 tsp)
- Ghee (1 tsp)
- Cumin (jeera) seeds (3/4 tsp)
- Asafetida (hing) powder (1/2 tsp)
- Curry leaves (6-7)
- Green chillies (cut finely) (per taste)
- Red chilly powder (1/2 tsp or per taste)
- Grated coconut (1 tbsp)
- Lemon/lime juice (1 tbsp)
- Salt (to taste)
- Coriander leaves (finely cut – for garnishing)
- Wash the sabudana in running water, drain out the excess water. Now add water such that it is slightly above the level of sabudana (approximately 2-3 mm above). Soak overnight. This is what it should look like in the morning. Slightly fluff the sabudana with the back of a fork.
- Peel potatoes and chop finely.
- In oil and ghee on medium heat in a pan, add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add curry leaves, cut chillies, asafetida and saute for 30-40 seconds. Add cut potatoes and mix well.
- Sprinkle some salt on the potatoes and cook on medium heat, until the potatoes are well cooked and roasted to a slight golden brown color. Switch off the flame.
- Dry roast peanuts, until they are nicely browned. Skip this step if you want to make the nut-free version.
- Coarsely grind the peanuts and mix with the soaked sabudana. Again, skip if making the nut-free version.
- Add the soaked sabudana or sabudana mixed with ground peanuts into the potato seasoning.
- Sprinkle some water on the mixture and cook uncovered on medium heat, until you see the pearls becoming translucent in nature. It is crucial that you are patient at this stage. Too much water will make the end product lumpy and the individual grains will lose their shape. Too little water will leave the sabudana under cooked and chewy. With practice, you will get better at judging the amount of water.
- Sprinkle red chilly powder (optional) at this stage.
- Switch off the flame, when the sabudana is well cooked. Don’t overcook it, it might become lumpy since the overcooked pearls might fuse together.
- Add grated coconut, coriander leaves and lemon juice at this stage. Adjust salt and spice levels, if necessary.
- Sabudana khichidi is a popular lunch box for the kids. Here, I’ve teamed it with a simple kidney bean-veggie soup with a light Italian seasoning.
Sweet (sago, ghee, oil, potato, coconut), sour (lemon), salty (salt), bitter (curry leaves, coriander leaves), pungent (chillies, cumin), astringent (asafetida, leaves).
Tapioca with its sweet and sticky qualities tends to be kapha provoking. This effect is balanced with the warming, digestive, slightly pungent spices like chillies, curry leaves, cumin, asafetida etc. It is important that the tapioca is cooked well (soaking for 8 hours or so is crucial), otherwise, it can lead to dryness in the colon and even constipation. In general, it is better to eat sabudana earlier in the day, and not for dinner. Kaphas need to consume this dish in moderation, and with a good amount of cumin and chillies. Pittas can go easy on the chillies. Vatas need to doubly ensure that the sabudana is well cooked.
This is a sattvic dish with a good blend of sattvic spices and ingredients. As always, make sure that fresh ingredients are used, and the sour, salty and pungent ingredients are not overdone.