Growing up, Sabudana (tapioca pearls) always reminded me of thermocol balls, nothing remotely edible to me. I never understood the appeal in eating it, in any form. And as fate would have it, I got married into a family whose daily-bread was tapioca. My father-in-law has been in the sabudana trade for decades, and the family is an expert in all things sabudana. Papa’s work desk has more sabudana samples than papers, and he can distinguish between qualities with the blink of an eye. With all this knowledge, they are also experts on how to best cook Sabudana.
The first time I did enjoy a plate of sabudana khichdi was almost a decade ago. Dushyant cooked the standard version with potatoes and crushed peanuts, and it was far better than the clumpy, oily versions I had eaten before. Cut to today, we still hardly eat any sabudana at home. We usually bring back a few packets from India trips, and they sit in the pantry for months. In pursuit of better rotating the pantry these past months, the sabudana got some attention, and we cooked this version a few times before finally writing down all the measures. No peanuts in my variation, because of intolerance and we prefer this mixed seeds version far more to the peanut one.
Ingredients – For 2
200gm sabudana (sago pearls)
Water, as required for soaking
~1.5 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
~ 1inch ginger, finely chopped
8-10 curry leaves
~400 gm mixed vegetables, chopped (I used potatoes, beans, carrots and corn)
20gm pumpkin seeds
20gm sunflower seeds
10gm white sesame seeds
Salt, per your taste
½ tsp sugar
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped – to garnish
1. Soak sabudana in water for 20 mins. Ensure there is enough water for it to soak and fluff up (water level around an index finger above the sabudana). After 20 minutes, drain all the water using a colander. Ensure all the water is completely drained but don’t squeeze the sabudana.
2. Place the drained sabudana in a wide bowl and leave it overnight. This gives a better bite and texture while retaining its form, and not turning it sticky after cooking.
Preparing the khichdi:
1. Roast sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds lightly until fragrant and pound them coarsely in a mortar pestle. Alternatively, coarsely grind in a food processor or mixer grinder jar.
2. Gently mix this into the overnight prepped sabudana with ~ 1/2 tbsp oil, a little salt and sugar.
3. In a deep pan, add ~ 1 tbsp of oil. Once warm enough (not hot), add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add curry leaves, ginger, and chillies. Cook at low heat for about a minute, until fragrant.
4. Add chopped vegetables, a little salt, and let it cook on low flame with a lid on. Cook vegetables until they are tender with a bite. This should take about 8-10 minutes.
5. Once the vegetables are cooked, add sabudana. Gently mix for about a minute and adjust salt if required. Cook for about 2 minutes on low flame with lid on.
6. Turn off heat, don’t open the lid, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
7. Garnish with coriander and serve.
– Typically, sabudana khichdi is made with peanuts but I have replaced it with a combination of seeds as I don’t eat peanuts. Feel free to use peanuts, following the same method – roast and coarsely ground.
– The quality of sabudana ultimately determines the end result of your khichdi. Some might result in a mushy, sticky khichdi. We have been using Varalakshmi Sabudana (not sponsored) for years and it works like magic.