April 5, 2012

Sabudana – Seasoned Tapioca

April 5, 2012
A failure contributes to learning. It is an impetus for analysing a mistake, making a change and trying again. If you wish to master the trial and error method of acquiring knowledge, start with a bag of tapioca pearls and attempt to achieve a dry, light and fluffy side dish. This kind of problem solving is known as guess and check in elementary algebra.

Needless to say how many times I’ve ended up with slimy, sticky porridge before getting the recipe right. It was a triumph when my husband commented a few days ago, “It is delicious”. Until then, he loathed tapioca.

In India, tapioca is called sabu or sabudana. To add to the confusion, sago, which comes from another plant (Metroxylon) and cooks differently, goes by the same name. Tapioca and sago look alike. They are usually interchangable ingredients. I’ve seen countless recipes confusing them.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava (Manihot esculenta). It is used worldwide as a thickening agent. It is gluten-free and low protein.

We use sabudana on Ekadasi and other days of fasting from grains. However, by adding green peas, fried carrot sticks, cauliflower bites, herbs and nuts, it turns into a colourful side dish at any meal.
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The trick of preparing sabudana is to rinse tapioca well with cold water. It doesn’t have to soak. Rinsing will give it enough moisture to double or triple in size. Before cooking, it has to drain and dry. To mix it with roasted coconut and peanut powder before adding it to the pot, will aid the pearls to remain separate. Once in the pot, it doesn’t require cooking. It steams to perfection on the top of vegetables within a couple of minutes. If it comes in contact with too high heat, hot ghee or oil it will immediately turn into a sticky mass. Therefore, special attention is required when adding it to the pot.
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Thank you.

27 comments:

  1. A very interesting way of preparing tapioca! This dish looks really good.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Rosa, thanks --- you are so fast! The recipe is interesting. I took more descriptive pictures, but dropped the camera and lost them! From the above two images it's hard to see details, but they give an idea of the texture.

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  3. These pearls of delight look so much beautiful through your eyes, Lakshmi! You have given a new twist to humble Sabudana or Sagu Kichidi by adding coconut and veggies. and yes, it is not easy to master the art of cooking perfect sagu dish and I have tried for good 2 years until I was satisfied with the end result.

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  4. love the boiled or baked tapioca with a little salt :) but this one looks yumm too :)
    xoxo
    http://sreebindu.blogspot.in/

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  5. I've commented on FB already. I wish to comment again. It's a beautiful post and gorgeous pics. Your post reminds me to prepare some Indian sweet today for 'Panguni uthiram'. My mom-in-law asked me to do that which I totally forgot. I'm not a Hindu, but married to one so I'm still learning the Hindu way of living. Love your blog...cos it reflects your lifestyle than just recipes. Your sabudana looks good and it needs some practice to get it right. If not it can get tacky to handle. You've nailed it. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheryl

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  6. Wow! Never thought of tapioca as anything other than a dessert. I always had it as a pudding growing up, loving the consistency, but the blend you make is so very intriguing. You are an absolute inspiration for breaking out of your box, always providing such amazing recipes and history about a world of food I know nothing about! If only you had a restaurant! I think this might be something to try for Easter :)

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  7. This is the first time I see tapioca cooked this way! I don't know if I have the courage to do it, but it looks very appetizing!

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  8. Te ha quedado un plato muy bueno.
    Un saludito

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  9. Love this ! Your version is a nice twist to the traditional version :) Lovely pictures as always ,Lakshmi

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  10. Sabudana Khichadi is a fasting favorite. I remember as a child I would fast (Ashadhi Ekadashi) only for the khichadi! And thank you for explaining Sago and tapioca are different, I used to confuse the two, too.

    In Maharashtra, we do not use Hing or curry leaves during a fast.

    I usually soak Sabudana overnight, it ensures plump pearls and always yields perfect khichadi.

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  11. Lakshmi, Sabudana never looked and sounded this enticing to me!
    Your husband is not alone, I've never liked to eat it almost all my life. Even when it was made occasionally at home as a payasam, I would find my reasons to evade and escape..

    But somehow, quite surprisingly, these days, I miss and therefore like to cook whatever I have despised all through my childhood..

    your detailed instructions on precautions to cook these pearls motivates me to cook it sooner..

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  12. Looks delicious as always Lakshmi! I also recently made sabudana khicdhi and posted it! The recipe is almost the same, I just don't use ginger.
    http://ambikaskitchen.com/?p=4810

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  13. My mom too eats sabudana during Ekadashi and i never enjoyed it until i came across sabudana khitchdi, which the husband taught me :) I have no clue it's different from sagu. Now I need to be extra careful when I buy these!

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  14. Thanks everyone for passing by! This recipe reminds me more of chidwa (Bombay mix) by texture and style.

    Manasi - thanks for sharing your Ekadasi story :-). With my husband, we love Ekadasi and always find the prasadam extra tasty. Another reason to be grateful for :-). We fast only from grains, pulses and some spices like mustard seeds and powdered ones that may contain grains (like hing or turmeric). Raw hing resin and turmeric root are fine. Once a year we observe full nirjala.

    Kankana - sago and tapioca can be both used succesfully. Their soaking time is different. Tapioca becomes easily mushy and slimy, therefore it requires special care. In a way, sago it easier. I like tapioca because it is almost instant.

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  15. Thanks for the explanation of sago versus sabu and the tips for cooking sabu...all new info to me! And I definitely think failures help us improve, or else I'd be pretty screwed 8p. Lastly, glad your camera is ok! I broke a lens recently by dropping the camera about 5 feet down onto concrete -- still remember cringing at the horrible noise of the impact.

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  16. Xiaolu, I remember you told me about the accident. It is a moment that makes your blood freeze. Such a shock. It has happened to me twice. First time the lens broke. This time I was lucky, although it looked bad for a moment. The camera fell right on the lens. The battery fell off and I had to insert the memory card again. I lost the pictures but have no regrets. I wish I were less clumsy though. Some days my fingers are like boiled spaghetti :-). Endearing, perhaps, but expensive!

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  17. Your sabudana looks perfect Lakshmi! I don't cook it very often as my husband doesn't like it. I too never really have eaten too much of it. I am sought of scared to cook it because like you said it's a little tricky to avoid it from becoming a sticky mess.
    Your post is making me walk down t the closest store and buy a pack of sabudana to try cooking it once again :)

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  18. Lakshmi this is superb....
    I make sabudana khichidi too... Kids love it sometime the pearls get little gummy but then again it taste amazingly good....
    Love it...
    I voted for you my dear, All the best... My fingers are crossed and I am sure you will win....

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  19. I love sabudhana -- and you are right about the specific attention to details that needs to be given in the preparation. I've never tried the coconut version, sounds delish!!

    Congrats on Saveur -- you have my vote, for sure :)

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  20. I might try this tomorrow. I need to cook it for just two. I haven't handled sabudana. This will be my first time. Does the sabudana swell after letting it stand for 10 minutes? 1/2 a cup of sabudana and 2 medium potatoes would be sufficient I hope.

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    1. Yes, Pratiba, sabudana will swell. I don't soak it but only rinse it several times and then drain it at least for an hour until it is dry. Soaking it will make it sticky. I like sabudana dry and a bit starchy. Also, sago and tapioca act differently. My recipe is for tapioca.

      I have used large amounts of peanuts and coconut in the recipe because I like them combined with potatoes but you can reduce the amount according to your taste.

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    2. And, yes, two potatoes will be sufficent. However, there should be enough potatoes to cover the bottom of a pan. If sabudana touches directly the hot ghee/oil, it will become sticky. The potatoes, nuts and coconut act as insulation.

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  21. I just forgot to give you a feedback. It turned out really good. It was a new taste altogether. Myself and hubby loved it. You might be a little surprised, I loved it with a bowl of Yoghurt :) Thanks Lakshmi. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pratiba! Nice to hear. With yogurt it's like savory granola :-)

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  22. Dear Lakshmi,
    You have wonderful website.
    One of friend said sabhdana is not vegetarian, because of the process it is prepared. It was one of favorites, please google & see there is tons of material which says it is not veg. I'm eliminating from my diet completely.
    Thanks,
    Poornima

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Poornima. I'm aware of the insect problem with sabudana. The same applies to many other ingredients: carob, cacao...

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