Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sabudana Upma/Kichidi

Dear Foodies,

I've talked a lot about upma's here - wheat rava/dalia, beaten rice/atukulu, bambino and even maggi upma style have found a cozy spot. So here is yet another yummy tiffin item to add to that list, Sabudana/Sago Upma.

Upma's are mostly sought out when you need something quick, healthy and nutritious on the plate. I usually make them when I don't have any veggies at home, atleast not the quantity that can serve as a stand alone dish. The odd carrot, capsicum, beans, peas or a few handfuls of greens dutifully find their way into the upma. It helps perk up the upma, making it more satisfying and closer to a whole meal. Sabudana upma though, stands out from the group in a few aspects. This upma doesn't exactly fit into the 'fast-food' tag. It needs a few hours of prep time and so cannot be whipped up in the last minute like the rest. Its also not derived from a grain like the rest, but is actually made from the starch extracted from a root vegetable called cassava, read more about it here. The tapioca flour is also used as a egg substitutes in a few recipes due to its starch content.

The pearls can be used in making delicious payasams and puddings or in savory dishes like vada/cutlet and this upma. My mom also makes yummy sundried goodies called javvarsi vadiyalu with these. A couple of weeks a year would be dedicated to making an assortment of papads and vadiyam to last through the year. It was soo much fun! Cooked with ground green chillies, cumin seeds & salt, we spooned them out onto huge sheets of plastic during the summer months to dry. We would then have a scrumptious supply of treats for the rest of the year. I also love the ones stored in the stores, they are round and colored with food colors. We made a few of these at home using bottle lids to act as moulds for the round shape.

Sago upma is just as easy to make but with one tricky step, the soaking of the sago pearls. Its the difference between a good upma and a chewy, gummy, unpalatable mess! I've made that too, more than once! And its impossible to salvage the dish once that happens. It turns into such a gooey, gummy mess that you might loose your teeth trying to chew on it. It sticks to everything, infact it might make a good industrial glue base I think!

I've tried a few methods for soaking and finally found the one that works the best for me (touchwood :P). Wash and drain the sago pearls thoroughly, like you would rice, in 2-3 changes of water. Just as in the case of rice, washing wipes out a little of the starchy overcoat, which helps in keeping the grains fluffier & separated when cooked. Spread them out in a wide dish and sprinkle a few handfuls of water on top, so that they are barely moist but NOT swimming in water. Let it sit overnight. The next morning use your hand to break any clumps and you should have a pretty bunch of pure white pearls waiting to be made into a delicious upma. Be sure to buy a fresh stock of these by checking the packaging date. They do store well in the pantry but batches that are more than 8-10 months old will ruin the upma no matter how well you soak it.

anti-clockwise from top left - sabudana pearls left for soaking, after soaking overnight, added to the sauted onions.
Sabudana/Sago Upma
(2 medium servings)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup - Sabudana, before soaking
  • 1/4 cup - Peanuts
  • 1/2 cup - Onions, diced
  • 2 -3 nos - Green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp - Cumin seeds/Jeera
  • 1 tsp - Channa dal
  • a pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil
  • 4-5 - Curry leaves, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • optional - 1 medium potato, diced and boiled in salted water
Method:
  1. Wash, drain and soak the sabudana as mentioned above. They will plump up a bit, run your hand through them and break any clumps.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they begin to pop add the chana dal, as it starts to change color add green chillies, curry leaves and a pinch of hing.
  3. Add the onions next and saute till they turn translucent. In the meantime, dry roast the peanuts, cool and coarsely grind them. A few pulses in the blender will do, the coarse bits add the needed crunch to the upma while the finer ones soak up the moisture and keep the upma dry. (If using cubed potatoes, add them now and saute for a couple of minutes)
  4. Add the sago pearls and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the peanut powder & salt, stir carefully and cook for a few more minutes. The pearls are initially white and opaque, but turn slightly translucent as they cook. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow it to rest for 5 mins. Serve with a dollop of yogurt on the side.
I love peanuts, and...I love this upma :D This is one of my favorite weekend brunches, if I remember to soak the sabudana the previous night that is :) Its fun to eat this upma, the sago is slightly chewy and the peanuts crunchy, giving this dish a perfect balance of textures. Its a very simple dish with just two main components apart from the tadka/seasoning. Once you have the pre-soaked sabudana it hardly takes more than 15-20 mins to put the dish together. I bought some organic, roasted peanuts (unsalted) from the bulk bins of my local store and that shortened the prep time even more. If roasting them, make extra and store them for later use.

24 thoughts:

Manasi said...

Onions in Sabudana khichadi are new to me! We normally eat khichadi for fasting days .. but i love sabudana in all it's savory forms! khichadi, thalipeeth , wada...YUM!

Jaya said...

I loveeee sabudana khichdi. In my house, they add potatoes and green chillies and mustard so it takes on a yellow-ish colour and it is a divine tiffin item. And as always, the pics look greta :)

Indhu said...

I love sabudana payasam... have never tried upma with sabudana... will try your recipe :)

Pavani said...

I too forget to soak them the night before and regret on a weekend morning. Your upma looks yum.
My mom's tip is to add ground peanuts to the soaked saggubiyam before adding to the pan, this way the peanuts don't clump up when cooking.

Manisha said...

Sabudana khichadi is "fasting food" for us so there are no onions, mustard seeds and hing in our traditional version. But since I don't fast and make it whenever I feel like it, I should try your version soon.

All well with you? Busy?

priar's, said...

Hi,
wow upma looks gr8...i havent tried this ....will try it:)

Namratha said...

The minute I read Sago upma, I came rushing over to see your soaking technique, hehe, that's one thing I always have trouble with when it comes to Sago. Will surely keep your method in mind!

Madhuram said...

I've heard about this upma but have not tried it. The pearls looks absolutely delicious.

veggie belly said...

Oh man, I could live on sabudana kichdi! I want to steal your bowl, its so pretty :)

suparna said...

love the way you present your recipes. The pics are amazing as always.I had tasted sabudana upma at one of my friend's house long time back....haven't tried it at home as yet.TC

Priya said...


Manasi, do you have a recipe for thalipeeth ?? This upma was a tiffin item to us and never connected to upavas, so I've always had it with the onions, it was thru blogs that I learnt it was a fasting food.

Jaya, I usually am too lazy to add potatoes, and also prefer it that way. Thank you :)

Indhu, and I've never made payasam with it, need to try that soon.

Pavani, that's a nice tip. I wish there was a shortcut to the soaking :P

Manisha, I've gotten so used to eating it this way, that now I can't imagine a version without onions. Me doing okay, just lost!

Priar, do give it a try, and let me know if you like it :)

Priya said...


Namratha, even I keep looking for other's techniques. Initially I thought it was black magic that my upma becaming gooey every single time :D Try it this way and let me know if it works for you.

Madhuram, do try it out sometime, you can even make cutlets with the soaked sabudana.

Sala, in exchange for your muhammara bowl, deal ? :P

Suparna, thank you so much for your comments about the blog, they made my day :) do try this upma, when made right its the best :)

Soma said...

I never cook sago for the fear of turning it in to a mush. yours look SO perfect like the beads. real nice recipe. I used to have the khichdi whcih used peanuts & tasted great with sago.

That bowl is very very pretty:-)

Vaishali said...

The khichdi looks lovely, Priya. I love sabudana khichdi, but I don't make it often because Desi, for some inexplicable reason, hates anything with sabudana in it. I've gotta try it again soon, though, with yours for inspiration. Thanks for the recipe and delicious pictures.

Mahimaa's kitchen said...

thanks for visiting my blog priya...you have a wonderful space here.. actually i have been following your blog for sometime.. i think i also left a couple of comments long back...your recipes are amazing.

A_and_N said...

My mom used to make this for us when we came back from school. She added tiny crisp potatos slivers :) much like bacon in the US ;)

pelicano said...

I've long wanted to make this kind of khichri/khichadi, but have been a little afeared. :-) Your pic is way too tempting, and I have roasted peanuts handy... (a gift from Texas Roadhouse: who says they don't serve vegetarian food?! :-D )

Anu Menon said...

Ahhh... i tried this n it became rubber... im a novicce :( but i love sabudana

Laavanya said...

I love this but don't make it very often since i'm the only one who eats it. Looks perfect. Nowadays I use nupur's MW method...

bee said...

i have some ancient sabudana. will try this.

Prakash said...

Amazing recipe..
Added ginger and cilantro as well.
Turned out great!!

Thanks for a great site.

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Suganya said...

Is that a kurti that I see? ;)

Nikki said...

hey Priya,First time here in ur blog and I must say marvelous blog,,The photos are breathtaking,also I love teh steps pics which are very helpful.sabudana khichdi is my husband's fav.
love to be a followers of ur space,
Cheers and happy cooking,
Nikki,
http://titilating-tastebuds.blogspot.com/

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