Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Dummies Guide to Sabudana Khichdi

Let's face it. Sabudana khichdi is the easiest thing to make.

Strangely, I totally *suck* at it, producing a gooey mess every single time, instead of a happy light breakfast. It's a complete mystery, because I am otherwise a competent and creative cook.

Thankfully, with the arrival of my new maid, the sabudana khichdi in our household has morphed into a work of art. Since Shravan is here, in all its supposed holiness, and people are buying sabudana by the kilo, I thought this a good time to produce this Sabudana Khichdi for Dummies.

Note that I am merely recording what my maid is doing, I'm not cooking. I'm convinced I'm jinxed when it comes to this sabudana thing :)

Step 1: Sabudana soaked overnight

Aha. Hang on there, because this is the first stumbling block. Most recipes will tell you this soak overnight stuff. The real trick though, is to Know Thy Sabudana. The right amount of soaking (1 hour in our household, but 30 minutes in some others) is required. After this, you drain all the water out, using a colander, and you leave the wet sabudana in the colander overnight. When you come back in the morning you'll find that the sago globules have morphed into fat moist little delights, waiting to be cooked.

Step 2: The Ingredients - Cumin, Lemon, Chillies, Peanuts coarsely ground, coriander for garnishing

There's a missing ingredient in this photo, which is a boiled potato (optional, strictly speaking, but hey, who doesn't like potatoes? And it adds a nice extra texture). By the way, the ground peanut thingy? The more you add the nicer the whole darn thing tastes.

Step 3 - Heat oil in kadhai, add cumin.

Easy, no? The thing is not to burn the seasonings, so keep the flame low, wait for the oil to heat up, then add the cumin.

Step 4: Slice chillies lengthwise

If you're in a household of brave men and women, you can chop the chillies into chunks, or chop them really fine for a spicier dish. I prefer not to be surprised into biting chillies, so we slice them this way to spot it easily.

Step 5: Watch green chillies sizzling in oil. Careful. The pods tend to pop when hot.

Step 6: Add the sago. No, it doesn't stick to the sides of the pan, but cut the flame to as low as you can.

Step 7: Squeeze lemon

My maid and I don't see eye to eye on this lemon business. To me, lemon is something you squeeze at the very end, like a garnish, after you take this thing off the flame. My maid doesn't have any such qualms, and adds lemon anywhere anyhow. Given that her food is outstanding, I should just sit back and let her do what she likes, right?

Step 8: Add salt to taste

How much, really, is "salt to taste"? Different salts have different saltiness, so this one, my friend, only works by trial and error. The golden rule is of course, Less is More. Go easy on the salt. Err on the side of caution. And so on.

Step 9: Bring on the ground peanuts. The more the merrier.
This is also the time my maid brings out the boiled potato, cuts it into tiny squares and pops it into the mix. I've also seen potatoes added at the beginning, just after the green chillies. That seems more sensible to me, but hey, what do *I* know.

Step 10: Give it a good stir. Watch it go from white to a happy brown.

Sabudana cooks quickly. In about 5 minutes, the sago turns translucent, which is when you know it's done. But it also sticks a bit to the sides of the pan, so you have to keep stirring.

Step 11: Chop coriander into bits for garnishing

Step 12: Serve hot

This is important. Cold sabudana is like biting into very dead fish. Hot, steaming, spicy, with the fantastic smells of coriander, lemon and chilli, that's how to eat this thing.

And the best way to eat it is plain. Maharashtrians ruin it, according to me, with a ridiculous sweet yoghurt dip to go with it. But hey. Whatever floats your boat.

And now to breakfast....


Haddock said...

I like them with the boiled potatoes.
I am going to try this at home (on Aug 15th) and if my mom-in-law approves it then its going to be an universal hit. (she is very finicky when it comes to cooking)

Anuradha Shankar said...

i have never been able to make decent-looking sabudana khichdi yet! but this one makes me want to give it another try!

Akshay Anaokar said...

mouth watering... slluurrppp!

Neeta said...

Interesting post, Deepa :-) Instead of oil, you can use ghee - it gives a better taste. Can also sprinkle grated coconut. Ignore all that cholesterol! :P

Gayatri said...

Thank you for the wonderful information you post on your blog. I enjoy the historical stuff. Hopefully, sometime I'll plan a trip to India with a few mandatory stay period in Mumbai and look up all the things you have posted.
Thank you for the lovely pictorial recipe. I'm definitely going to try this. Also the tip about soaking should help me in not making a gooey mess.

John B said...

damn ....looks so delicious.

Florencia said...

Nice recipe. But why don't you call your "maid" by her name?

Deepa said...

I'm not sure Florencia, but I think it's a style of writing, to not name people in a public blog. The article before this is about "Men, women and bonding", and I just noticed I haven't named my sister, my husband, daughter, mom, dad etc who all feature in it. I've named a friend to whom I wanted to give credit for showing me the article, but everyone else is unnamed. And even for that friend, I have used only a first name because I don't know if he really wants to be named in a public space.

- Deepa

Shobna said...

Cold sabudana tastes like dead fish :O Loved that

Matthea said...

This sounds delicious! Sadly I'm not in Mumbai anymore and I don't have access to Sabudana. What's a good alternative if there is any?

indian yarn said...

matthea : if you have a china town where you live - you should be able to get sabudana -which is also used to make tapioca pudding - i have found this in regular grocery stores in the regular grocery store in the US in the dessert/snacks isle in a box.

radha said...

I finally achieved a decent sabudhana kichidi, thanks to this post. I am a regular visitor here.
Can we have a Poha for Dummies too?

Deepa said...

Radha, your words are music to my ears. I feel like a proud mother watching her 7 year get the first prize in a spelling bee :)

Anonymous said...

you are a life-saver! everytime I tried sabudana khichdi it came out different ( I needed the soaking advice) and the very last time I did it it was one HUGE BLOB - so sticky I had no option but to throw it away :(

But now I have your Mantra, or your maid's - please thank her for the same. Going to enjoy GOOD sabudana khichdi today!


Anonymous said...

WOW...yummy...I have wet sampudana for only 4 hours. Now will try and see how it comes.

Deepa said...

I think if you soak for 4 hours you will get gooey stuff :)

The trick is to soak for 1 hour or 30 minutes, then DRAIN ALL THE WATER. Then leave the wet/moist sabudana overnight.

Dill from Cleveland said...

RE: Your Sabudana khichdi - I have tried several kichdi's on my trips to Mumbai and Poona - and to my lasting regret, they are lousy !!! They are too jelly-like and soaked with oil. Oil is not an antidote when the sabudana itself, is too wet/moist or sticky !!

To people in the US - do not use East Asian ( Indonesian/Phillipino or chinese tapioca .... it is either too fine(small) or too big - like pearls - also this is important - the tapioca is made of a different raw material than indian sabudana - sago root versus manioc root ). Most indian stores, in the US, carry lots of indian sabudana.

some tips I have found useful - (1) Wash and Wet the sabudana, and leave it soaking for atleast 3 hours, with JUST ENOUGH water above the surface, to leave a 'Broken' surface ... and do NOT use the sabudana, unless you can 'comb' the wet, enlarged grain, with your hands, and NOTHING sticks to your hands.... I have found this formula to be perfection itself, for the last 15 years - never had any problem - and I am a food gourmet - trust me.

(2) Use at least 40% of ground roasted peanuts, to increase the protein content of the dish. (3) a dollop of ghee ( the rest oil ... ) certainly does wonders. A tablespoon of 'cream of coconut' also helps. ... (4) a tablespoon of urad dal, roasted, in the 'tadka' gives a nutty flavor.

Bon Apetit'.

ShantanuDas said...

Thanks for the recipe. The pictures helped to memorise !!

ShantanuDas said...

Thanks for the recipe.

girl, interrupted said...

Genius recipe!!
I'm trying to fast every Monday in the US.. No easy feat! Sabudana khichdi seemed the easiest (and only) thing I could make. After weeks of eating gooey gunk, your post saved me!
Thanks deepa and maid:)

girl, interrupted said...

Genius recipe!!
I'm trying to fast every Monday in the US.. No easy feat! Sabudana khichdi seemed the easiest (and only) thing I could make. After weeks of eating gooey gunk, your post saved me!
Thanks deepa and maid:)