Monday, July 04, 2005

"Fast" Food My Way: Sago Khichdi

Almost every culture has some days when a "fast" is observed...a days when the intake of regular food and drink is restricted, a day of religious observence and prayer. When I was growing up, there were several days of the year which were thus observed. Luckily for us, the rules were rather relaxed: although a great many everyday foods like rice, onion, turmeric were forbidden, there was an equal number of foods that were "allowed" and they made for many delicious dishes indeed. We kids certainly ended up eating twice as much on "fast" days ;)
Sago (called sabudana in the local language), or the pearls of the sago palm, is one food that is eaten on these fast days. I'm not religious at all but I love eating preparations of sago and often make sago khichdi for breakfast any old day of the year. This is what the pearly white sago looks like:
Looks pretty innocent, but its very easy to mess up sago preparations! All recipes call for soaking the sago to rehydrate it and if this is not done right, you end up with a gummy disaster. In addition, the sago is tasteless almost and needs careful seasoning. Making sago khichdi is an art and I would love to share a couple of tips I have learnt.
*Soak 1 cup of sago by placing it in a bowl, then rinsing once with water, then adding enough water to just cover the sago in the bowl. Cover and leave overnight. This results in perfectly fluffed sago. I was visiting my friend C's lovely lovely place in Goa last December when her mom visited and shared this tip with me.
**Season the fluffed sago by adding 3/4 cup coarsely powdered roasted peanuts, salt to taste and 2 tbsp sugar. I know thats a lot of sugar but its a trick taught to me by a lovely lady known as "tai"...she made a mean sago khichi and shared this tip of bringing out the flavor by adding lots of sugar. Tai passed on last month but her culinary legacy will live on and on.
*** Saute a tsp of cumin seeds in a pan containing {1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee...or just 2 tbsp oil}. Add 3-4 slit green chillies and one diced potato. Cover and cook till potatoes are tender. Then add the seasoned sago and saute for 5-7 minutes, cover and cook for another couple of minutes and taste for seasoning. Finally, garnish with minced cilantro and sprintz on some lemon juice and you are done! This is fast food in more ways than one!


  1. Nupur
    I love sago and the only way I've eaten it is with milk and sugar and cinnamon on top. As you said, my preparation is gummy, almost like porridge. Now, I like it that way, but I think I would like to try fluffing it with water and cooking it with butter. Then I might just go ahead and add a dollop of cream and some cinnamon. Some things are hard to change.

  2. dear nupur,
    its true that our fasts are hardly 'fasts' and we fast end up eating double of what we would normally.[ekadashi ani duppat khashi]. remember we went once to 'govinda' on ekadashi day and ended up eating 56 'fast' dishes.
    a slight variation in yr recipe is that just before the seasoning , when you add crushed peanuts, etc you also add a spoonful of curds or buttermilk for a little sour flavour.

  3. Wow! Reading your recipe I'm transported back to my mom's kitchen .. when on fast days (esp. ekadashi) the house was filled with the aroma of vrat ka khana including the sabudana ki khichdi!

  4. My sabudana always glues up :( I wonder if the sago pearls are too small and therefore get soggy too soon. Yours look perfect, Nupur - proper pearls!

    1. there are different grades of sabudana, and you need to pick the ones that need a while to become gooey. Else soak for less time.

  5. Oh, this is another wonderful idea! I've only had sago in sweet beverages and desserts. This is like opening up a window for me!

    Off topic: I tagged you for the cookbook meme when I saw you haven't had it yet.

  6. Hi Ana
    In India we also make a kheer or pudding with sago...its just that I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I stick to savoury sago dishes!

    Hi Yoma
    Thats a nice trick to use yogurt instead of lemon juice as a souring agent. Will try that next time.

    Hi Crab
    Yeah I miss those fast days :)

    Hi Shammi
    You know, the quality of sago also varies quite a bit from batch to batch. You might have been plain unlucky to buy sticky sago! When you get your hands on good quality sago, this works fine.

    Hi Karen
    Thanks again for tagging me :)

  7. read this post and got reminded of the saboodana khitchdi in the JNU mess. one word for it. yeeeeccccchhhh.
    Used to see it and come back to my room hungry .
    yours' looks good enough to eat. Sorry to hear about your tai but hey, she'll always stay on cus of your food memories.
    take care

  8. Since sabudana is already fairly starchy, you can try this neat tip from my maushi: add diced cucumber instead of the potatoes. Add the cucumber along with the sabudana or a couple of minutes after the sabudana, so it doesn't cook much and remains fairly crunchy. I loved the crunch and the crisp flavor of the cucumber in the khichadi.

    I've tried adding dahi to the sabudana but it hasn't really worked for me.

    My aunt who spent a fair amount of her life in Gujarat (near Bhavnagar) told me that she learnt to make sabudanyachi khichadi with onions!! Some 'fast' food that, eh?! NOT! :-D

  9. Hi Manisha,

    You need to add dahi little little in your bowl with Sabudana while eating. Need not to add to the whole to the receipe.

  10. Hi Nupur,

    Thanks for the detailed instructions. I've been trying out different variations of Sabudana Kichri for lunch (when no one gets hurts by my experimenting other than me) and I am yet to replicate the taste I remember from India.

    My goal is to get clear, translucent, separate balls of sabudana with the crunch of cucumber and peanuts in every bite. Sigh!!! It's weird what you crave when you're far from home isn't it?

  11. So, what does it feel like in the pasta, or like a grain, or just unique? Fascinating--I've never heard of it!

  12. Hi Lisa, I would say it tastes more like pasta. but not al dente pasta, overcooked pasta :) It is quite a unique taste, and you basically can only eat it in someone's home...I don't think they make these dishes in Indian restaurants.

  13. Hi Nupur,
    This looks like a very old post, but couldnt help leaving a comment..
    I also add Jeera/Cumin seeds and curry leaves along with the green chilies in the oil. And also add lemon juice to the sago along with the peanut powder. I think lemon juice prevents it from becoming sticky. For the same reason we also add lemon juice while frying okra. I dont cover the khichdi while cooking. Covering the khicdi makes it sticky. Hope you enjoy this version of the khichdi as much. Next time i make the khichdi i will surely add sugar to my version.


  14. Hi Nupur,

    I just tried this out - following your directions to a point, and it came out really really well. Thank you for the recipe!!

  15. > I don't think they make these
    > dishes in Indian restaurants.

    Swati restaurant in Ahmedabad does a very good Sabudana khichdi served with dahi on the side

    (i heard there is a Swati restaurant in Mumbai too, but never been)

  16. Thanks nupur for this recipe I always wanted to know the right way to soak sago so that it was not too gummy neither too dry,
    being a south Indian & growing up in Maharashtra ,I was always found of both the cuisines, eagerly looking forward towards ur RCI Maharashtrian cuisine.

  17. Hi Nupur,

    Tried sago khichdi. Must say its a perfect recipe. Thanks alot.This is one of my favs, from now i could make it more often.

  18. I would like to share my limited knowledge in cooking Sabudana khichdi - soaking sago in hot water makes it even better.

  19. Hemant, thanks for sharing the tip! I am definitely going to try it!

  20. Nupur,

    I tried making the Sabudana Khichdi exactly as you described... and it came out very very well. I was amazed at both the texture and the flavor with no masala at all.

    Thank you very much for sharing it.

  21. Nupur : Thanks so much for sharing - I was really yearning for my panaji-aji's (greatgrandmonther's) sabudanyachi khichadi and your recipe hit the spot ! The only thing I changed was the cooking time in the end, I let it cook for 30 mins on low heat , just like she used to

  22. This is Rudy Kintanar from Zamboanga City, Philippines. Your sago dishes look very delicious.
    We have a different way of preparing sago here. We just toast it in a big pan. Then we add sugar and grated coconut. Then we eat the sweetened coconut meat flavored toasted sago.

  23. Interesting ways of preparing sago. Thank you for sharing this in your blog.

  24. trick to soak shabudana is , you soak them overnight. and while adding water, the water level should be just above the sago (1/4 cm above sago).

  25. Hi Nupur,

    my very first sabudana kichdi was at a small hole in the wall place near Sidhi Vinayak. yours is even better than that:) thanks for the sugar tip. it's amazingly delicious.

  26. Hi Nupur,
    one short cut I use for sabudana khichadi and batata poha is Cascadian Farms frozen grated hash brown potatoes. I keep a few bags in my freezer at all times. I find this brand has no additive taste, unlike even the fresh diced potatoes from the produce section.

  27. Hi Nupur,

    i just happened to come across your blog and have been reading for the past 2 hours and believe me salivating at the simple yet delicious recipes...i cannot wait to try this. We dont cook sago at home but i have eaten this in my friends place and clearly remember how i enjoyed it. I even recall making sabudana vadas eons ago....cannot wait to try this. Hope i get the seasoning and soaking right. You need to season after its been soaked and absorbed all the mosture?

    And finally thank you soo much for such heart warming recipies...i look forward to enjoying more of the blog :)

  28. This is my go-to sabudana khichdi recipe. One of my favorite comfort foods so I look up your recipe every time I make this to make sure I do everything right. Thanks for posting!

  29. Guys - in Mumbai, this is always served with something that tastes like sweet yogurt but I think its not just sweet yogurt but something else. Does anybody know exactly what it is - I really miss that part with my sabudana khichdi


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