Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sabudana Kichdi

Every time I get busy at work, cooking immediately takes a backseat. Don't even ask about blogging.

Sabudana kichdi is a tasty dish if you like the spongy, chewy texture of sabudana (variously called as sago or tapioca pearls or javvarisi). It requires a little bit of planning since you need to soak the sabudana beforehand but the actual making process is quite simple and quick - making it an ideal recipe for not-enough-time-to-cook times.
Sabudana Kichdi

Ingredients (makes enough for 2):
Sabudana - 1 cup
Potato - 1 medium-sized, chopped into small pieces
Green chillis - 2, split vertically
Roasted peanuts - 1/4 cup, de-skinned and lightly crushed
Jeera - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Lemon Juice - 2 tsp or per taste
Corriander leaves - 1 handful, chopped
Salt to taste

1. Soak the sabudana in water for 8 hours or overnight. The way I measure the amount of water needed is: Place the sabudana in a bowl, pour enough water to just cover. Then pour some more water so that the level of water is up to the first line-marking (from top) on the inside your index finger when it is placed on the top layer of sabudana. A friend taught me this and this method ensures that you do not use too much or too little water.
2. In case there is any water remaining with the soaked sabudana the next day, drain it and spread the sabudana on a plate to lightly dry. Too much water will result in a soggy mess.
3. Heat enough oil to coat in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Non stick is important if you want to avoid using copious quantities of oil and prevent sticking to the pan.
4. Toss in the jeera and the green chillis and lightly stir till the jeera crackles.
5. Add the chopped potato pieces and stir till they are evenly coated with oil/jeera.
6. Add the turmeric, stir again, then lower the heat and cover the pan.
7. When potatoes are almost done (about 4-5 minutes), add in the sabudana. Stir continuously with a light hand as you add the sabudana to prevent sticking.
8. From this point, DO NOT cover the pan at any time.
9. Add the crushed peanut pieces and salt. Continue stirring lightly from time to time.
10. When the sabudana pearls turn translucent (about 5-7 minutes), the kichdi is done.
11. Turn off heat, add the lemon juice and stir/toss the kichdi so the juice spreads evenly.
12. Top with coriander leaves and serve hot.

1. The most important thing to get right for this recipe is the sabudana. They should be soaked but not soggy when you add them.
2. If your sabudana kichdi turns out to be a big sticky ball when it is done, check the following:
a) are you using a non-stick pan or sufficient oil in case of a regular pan? With a regular pan, you would easily be looking at 2-3 tbsp of oil to avoid stickiness.
b) are you cooking on too high heat? The kichdi should be cooked on medium-low to medium heat.
c) Are you stirring with a heavy hand? Stir lightly because you are only trying to make sure that the sabudana gets coated with mild spices, not because you are trying to dissolve it into a gruel.
d) As mentioned before, DO NOT cover the pan once you have added sabudana - a covered pan is the best way to ensure a sticky ball.
e) At no time should you be adding any water. If the kichdi seems to be sticking to the bottom of the pan, lower heat and drizzle some more oil into it.

Once you get the sabudana right, the recipe is a breeze to make. I know because I did make a couple of sticky balls before I started getting it consistently right. The effort was not wasted - now I have one more tasty dish on my quick-meal options!

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